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Peppermint

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What other names is Peppermint known by?

Black Peppermint, Brandy Mint, Extract of Mentha Piperita, Extract of Peppermint, Extract of Peppermint Leaves, Extract of Peppermint Leaves, Extrait de Feuilles de Menthe de Poivrée, Extrait de Mentha Piperita, Extrait de Menthe Poivrée, Feuille de Menthe Poivrée, Field Mint, Herba Menthae, Huile de Mentha Piperita, Huile de Menthe Poivrée, Huile Essentielle de Menthe Poivrée, Lamb Mint, Menta Piperita, Mentha lavanduliodora, Mentha Oil, Mentha Piperita, Mentha Piperita Extract, Mentha Piperita Oil, Mentha x piperita, Menthae Piperitae Aetheroleum, Menthae Piperitae Folium, Menthe, Menthe Poivrée, Menthol, Mint, Mint Balm, Oil of Peppermint, Paparaminta, Peppermint Essential Oil, Peppermint Extract, Peppermint Leaf, Peppermint Leaf Extract, Peppermint Oil, Western Peppermint.

What is Peppermint?

Peppermint is a plant in the mint family. The leaf and oil are used as medicine.

Peppermint is used for the common cold, cough, inflammation of the mouth and throat, sinus infections, and other respiratory infections. It is also used for digestive problems including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cramps of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and bile ducts, diarrhea, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, and gas.

Some people also use peppermint for menstrual problems, preventing spasms during endoscopy procedures, fevers, headaches, to reduce stomach bloating after surgery, and as a stimulant.

Peppermint oil is applied to the skin for headache, muscle pain, nerve pain, toothache, inflammation of the mouth, joint conditions, bad breath, menopausal symptoms, hot flashes during treatment for breast cancer, itchiness of the skin during pregnancy, hives, for repelling mosquitoes, for reducing plaque, and for reducing nipple discomfort during breastfeeding.

People use peppermint oil rectally to relax the colon during barium enemas.

Some people inhale peppermint oil for treating symptoms of cough and colds, as a painkiller, to improve mental function, and to reduce stress.

In foods and beverages, peppermint is a common flavoring agent.

In manufacturing, peppermint oil is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics, and as a flavoring agent in pharmaceuticals.

In 1990, the FDA banned the sale of peppermint oil as an over-the-counter drug for use as a digestive aid because its effectiveness had not been proven. Today, peppermint is sold as a dietary supplement. Unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements do not have to be proven effective to the satisfaction of the FDA in order to be marketed. Also, unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements are not allowed to claim that they prevent or treat illness.

Likely Effective for...

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Although some older studies suggest that peppermint oil does not affect IBS, most research shows that taking peppermint oil by mouth reduces stomach pain, bloating, gas, and bowel movements in people with IBS. Most trials have used specific peppermint oil products (Colpermin by Tillotts Pharma; Mintoil by Cadigroup).

Possibly Effective for...

  • Relaxing the colon during medical exams, including barium enemas. Using peppermint oil as an ingredient in enemas seems to relax the colon during barium enema examinations. Also, taking peppermint oil by mouth before the start of a barium enema seems to decrease spasms.
  • Breastfeeding discomfort. Research suggests that breastfeeding women who apply peppermint oil on their skin have less cracked skin and pain in the nipple area.
  • Heartburn (dyspepsia). Taking a specific product containing peppermint oil and caraway oil (Enteroplant by Dr Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals) by mouth seems to reduce feelings of fullness and stomach spasms. Another specific combination product containing peppermint (Iberogast by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) also seems to improve symptoms of heartburn, including severity of acid reflux, stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. The combination includes peppermint leaf plus clown's mustard plant, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, milk thistle, angelica, celandine, and lemon balm. Another similar combination product containing peppermint leaf, clown's mustard, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, and lemon balm (STW 5-II by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) also seems to help.
  • Spasms caused by endoscopy. Research shows that peppermint oil can reduce pain and spasms in people undergoing endoscopy, a procedure used to see within the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Tension headache. Applying peppermint oil to the skin seems to help relieve tension headaches.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Bloating of the stomach after surgery. One study shows that taking a specific peppermint product (Copermin by Tillotts Pharma) after surgery does not reduce stomach bloating or heartburn. Another study shows that taking this product does not relieve bloating or stomach pain following removal of the appendix.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Hot flashes. Early research suggests that a combination spray containing peppermint and other ingredients does not relieve hot flashes in most women receiving chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.
  • Mental function. Early research suggests that peppermint slightly improves memory and performance on mental tasks, but does not improve attention and speed of completing tasks.
  • Dental plaque. Early research shows that rinsing with a solution containing peppermint powder and other ingredients (HiOra by Himalaya Herbal Heathcare) reduces plaque compared to a water solution. However, it doesn't work better than a solution containing chlorhexidine.
  • Spasm in the esophagus. Early research shows that drinking water containing five drops of peppermint oil stops spasms in the esophagus.
  • Bad breath. Early research shows that a specific combination of tea tree oil, peppermint, and lemon oil can improve breath smell when used for 3 minutes.
  • Itchy skin during pregnancy. Early research suggests that applying oil containing 0.5% peppermint oil can reduce the severity of itchy skin in women with pregnancy-related itching.
  • Relieving pain caused by shingles. Early research suggests that applying peppermint oil to the skin might provide some relief for lingering pain caused by shingles.
  • Nausea and vomiting following surgery. Some early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil might relieve nausea after surgery. However, other research shows that inhaling peppermint oil does is not more effective than inhaling alcohol or saline. It's possible that any nausea relief seen with peppermint aromatherapy is due to improved breathing patterns rather than peppermint oil itself.
  • Stress. Early research shows that peppermint aromatherapy can reduce stress.
  • Bacteria overgrowth in the intestines.
  • Cough and symptoms of cold.
  • Infections.
  • Inflammation of mouth and respiratory tract lining.
  • Lung infections.
  • Morning sickness.
  • Muscle or nerve pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Painful menstrual periods.
  • Toothaches.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate peppermint for these uses.

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).


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