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Japanese mint is a plant. The oil is removed from the parts that grow above the ground and used to make medicine.
Japanese mint oil is used for various digestive complaints including poor appetite, gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, gallstones, liver problems, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It is also used for respiratory tract problems including common cold, cough, bronchitis, and sore mouth and throat.
Other uses include treatment of fever, pain, spasms, headaches, toothaches, cramps, earache, tumors, sores, cancer, heart problems, breathing difficulties, tendency toward infection, and sensitivity to weather changes.
Some people use Japanese mint as a stimulant, a germ-killer, or a pain-killer.
Japanese mint is applied directly to the skin for muscle pain, nerve pain, itchiness, and hives.
When inhaled, Japanese mint is used for swelling of the lining of the upper respiratory tract. Japanese mint oil contains up to 95% menthol.
In manufacturing, Japanese mint is also used as a fragrance in toothpaste, mouthwash, gargles, soaps, detergents, creams, lotions, and perfumes. Commercially it is used as a source of menthol.
How does it work?
Japanese mint oil is thought to prevent intestinal gas, stimulate bile flow, and fight infections.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Mouth inflammation.
- Joint and muscle pain.
- Common cold.
- Tendency to infection.
- Sore throat.
- Heart problems.
- Sensitivity to weather changes.
- Intestinal gas (flatulence).
- Muscular pain (myalgia).
- Nerve pain.
- Itching, when applied to the skin.
- Hives, when applied to the skin.
- Swelling (inflammation) of the airways such as bronchitis, when inhaled.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Japanese mint oil seems to be safe for most people when taken appropriately by mouth or applied to the skin. It can cause some side effects such as stomach upset when taken by mouth. It can cause allergic skin reactions when used directly on the skin. If applied directly on the face or inhaled, it can worsen asthma, cause vocal cord spasms, and cause serious breathing problems. It can also cause flushing, headache, and allergic reactions.
Not enough is known about the safety of inhaling Japanese mint oil.
Children: Japanese mint oil is UNSAFE for use in infants and children, especially when applied around the nose, since it can trigger serious breathing problems.
Asthma: The menthol in Japanese mint oil might make asthma worse.
Gallbladder conditions such as inflammation, gallstones, or a blocked bile duct: Don’t use Japanese mint oil if you have one of these conditions. It could make your condition worse.
Liver disease: Don’t use Japanese mint if you have a liver problem. It could make your condition worse.
The appropriate dose of Japanese mint depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for Japanese mint. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Trans. S. Klein. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council, 1998.
Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 1st ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.
Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.