Peppermint is a plant in the Lamiaceae family native to Europe and found throughout North America and Canada. It is a member of the genus Mentha and a hybrid of two mint types: water mint and spearmint. Its parts, mainly the oil extracted from its flowering parts (essential oil) and raw leaves, have been used for health purposes. Scientists believe peppermint’s polyphenolic and menthol content gives it its health properties. The herb is also a flavoring agent in the kitchen, providing food and beverages with their minty flavor. 

Although peppermint oil used topically is a common supplement, the herb can also come in other varieties. The herb can be consumed in solid form as pills or powder, taken as it is, or as tea. The top five peppermint supplement producers are NOW, Protocol for Life Balance, Herb Pharm, Nature’s Way, and Natural Factors. Peppermint supplements are primarily used for digestive system health support. Applied topically, they relieve joint pain, itchy skin, headaches, and sinus infections.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, peppermint, with the scientific name Mentha x piperita, appears safe when consumed orally or topically in therapeutic doses. When consumed in excess orally, it can result in side effects such as nausea, abdominal pain, dry mouth, and heartburn. When applied in excessive amounts on the skin, it can result in rashes, although the center has also stated that peppermint oil, in particular, rarely results in allergic reactions.

 

What Are The Benefits Of Peppermint?

Peppermint has been found to yield multiple health benefits. Below are some of those benefits.

1. Kills Bacteria

Scientific studies have found that peppermint can kill bacteria. An in vitro study by Kenjo Osawa et al. found that peppermint oil, in particular, exhibited antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Gram-negative bacteria typically found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded creatures and an oral pathogen. The researchers noted that of the 53 peppermint constituents, 15–menthol, neomenthol, menthone, menthofuran, piperiton, (+) -limonene, 3-octanol, mint lactone, cisjasmone, piperitol, (-)-myrtenol, eugenol, 2-ethylfuran  carvacrol, and ocimene, exhibited this activity against both non-pathogenic and enterohemorrhagic strains of the bacteria in 24 hours. According to the researchers, at concentrations above 400 վg/ml, peppermint oil suppressed the bacteria’s growth. The researchers observed a dose-dependent growth inhibition from 50 to 200 վg/ml. 

Researchers Nilima Thosar et al. also found in their in vitro study that peppermint oil exhibited significant bactericidal activity against the other oral pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Candida albicans. The minimum inhibitory concentrations of peppermint oil for each type of bacteria ranged from 0.25 to 512 վg/ml.

Another study by S Pattnaik et al. observed in vitro that peppermint oil was among the several essential oils effective against all 22 bacterial strains, including Gram-positive cocci and three filamentous and yeast-like fungi. The researchers identified the minimum inhibitory concentrations of peppermint oil, palmarosa, lemongrass, and eucalyptus at 0.16 to > 20 microliters ml-1 for 18 bacteria and 0.25 to 10 microliters ml-1 for twelve fungi. 

Researchers Kenjo Osawa et al. did not specify a mechanism by which peppermint exhibited the antibacterial activity but noted that of this particular essential oil’s 15 constituents that proved effective against the Escherichia coli, neomenthol was the most effective. In one hour, Neomenthol killed the bacteria at concentrations higher than 200 վg/ml.

Because many of the studies that affirmed the antibacterial activity of peppermint were done in vitro, it is difficult to give a recommended dosage to users who wish to benefit from peppermint’s antibacterial activity. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised.

2. Stops Itching

Peppermint has been found to reduce itching of the skin. A study by Marjan Akhavan Amjadi et al. found a statistically significant reduction (p=0.003) in itch severity in pregnant women diagnosed with pruritus gravidarum after using peppermint oil two times a day for two weeks. Another study by Lofty T. Elsaie yielded the same results in subjects diagnosed with chronic pruritus or itching that lasts for more than six weeks, but this time due to liver, kidney, or diabetic issues. The researchers said the itching improved across multiple parameters such as degree, distribution areas, and duration. The subjects had been instructed to ensure the affected area of the skin was hydrated before topical application of peppermint oil two times daily for two weeks. 

According to researchers Lofty T. Elsaie et al., based on scientific research, it may be the menthol in peppermint that allows for the alleviation of itching. A study by Tejesh Patel et al. noted that while the mechanism by which menthol does this is unknown, several researchers have hypothesized menthol activates A-delta fibers and K-opioid receptors, which play a role in itch reduction.

Based on the Marjan Akhavan Amjadi et al. and Lofty T. Elsaie studies, topical application of peppermint oil two times a day for two weeks sufficed for itch alleviation. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before the use of peppermint supplements.

3. Relieves Pain

Peppermint has been found to relieve pain. A study by F. Akbari et al. found that peppermint used in aromatherapy significantly alleviated the pain felt by cardiac patients who later underwent intravenous catheterization compared to the control group. The researchers said the reduction in pain was based on the patients’ responses to the numeric pain rating scale from one to ten. For the aromatherapy session before the intravenous catheterization, the patients were asked to inhale a cotton ball that had been wet with three drops of peppermint oil for five minutes. The cotton ball had been attached to each patient’s collar and was located 10 centimeters away from their nose. 

Researchers Ming Chiu Ou et al. noted in their study that patients with neck pain who used 2 g of a cream with a 3% concentration of peppermint and other essential oils daily on the affected area improved their visual analog scale, motion analysis system, and neck disability index scores for pain, and their pain tolerance as measured by the pressure pain threshold test after four weeks of treatment. According to the researchers, the patients’ motion analysis values after the intervention improved, particularly in 10 motion areas compared to before the intervention, indicating better neck movement.

Ming Chiu Ou et al. did not identify the component of peppermint oil behind the herb’s pain-reducing properties, but they noted the herb itself had been found to exhibit analgesic properties. According to Bahare Selehi et al., peppermint’s analgesic properties can be attributed to its carvone, limonene, and menthol content. In particular, menthol has been found to reduce pain by increasing cellular stimulation threshold and reducing synoptic transmits and stimulations. However, researchers noted more studies are needed on the mechanism behind peppermint’s effects when used in aromatherapy.

Based on these studies, inhalation of three drops of peppermint oil in a vehicle sufficed for one to benefit from the pain-reducing effects of the herb through aromatherapy. According to the Ming Chiu Ou et al. study, the daily topical application of 2 g of peppermint on the affected area for four weeks was also enough to reduce physical pain. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before consumption of peppermint supplements.

4. Prevents Or Reduces Vomiting

Peppermint has been found to aid in vomiting. A study by Nuriye Efe Erturk et al. found that cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy experienced a reduced frequency of nausea, vomiting, and retching following their use of the herb in aromatherapy after chemotherapy administration. The severity of their nausea was also reduced based on the visual analog scale results for nausea severity. According to Nuriye Efe Erturk et al., for the peppermint oil treatment, the oil was applied topically between the patients’ upper lip and nose three times a day for five days.

A study by Hadi Jafarimanesh et al. also yielded the same results when the peppermint was ingested by subjects instead of applied topically and inhaled. The researchers noted that the mean score of vomiting and the severity of nausea in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy 24 hours and 48 hours after treatment was lower in the subjects who previously consumed 40 drops of peppermint extract in 20 cc of tap water every eight hours.

The researchers did not identify the component of peppermint that was responsible for this specific property, but researchers Pei Lin Lua et al. hypothesized that it was menthyl acetate, which also gives peppermint its minty taste and aroma. Based on scientific research, Pei Lin Lua et al. said that odors could affect mood and behavior. Once inhaled, the essential oil molecules are recognized by the olfactory senses, sending signals to the brain. The other essential oil molecules in the bloodstream directly affect the neurons. According to Prashant Singh et al., nausea occurs when the chemoreceptor trigger zone produces stimuli that reach the brain.

Researchers Hadi Jafarimanesh et al. did not specify how peppermint can help reduce vomiting when ingested but noted that the oil contains menthol. The herb’s essential oil, in particular, is 70% free of menthol and menthol esters.

Based on these studies, oral intake of 40 drops of peppermint extract or topical application of peppermint oil three times daily sufficed for one to benefit from peppermint’s positive effects on vomiting. However, the subjects in the Hadi Jafarimanesh et al. and the Nuriye Efe Erturk et al. studies that benefited from this dosage were cancer patients. Therefore, consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before using peppermint oil to reduce vomiting.

5. Helps Improve Lung Function

Peppermint has been found to help improve lung function. Researchers Abbas Meamarbashi et al. noted a “substantial increase” in the respiratory rate and respiratory ventilation of healthy male university students who performed a treadmill exercise before and after ingestion of 0.05 ml of peppermint oil dissolved in 500 ml of water every day for ten days. The researchers also noted that energy expenditure parameters such as the metabolic equivalent of task and VO2/kg were also higher post-test than pre-test levels, indicating respiratory efficiency.

Another study by Mi Hye Kim et al., using animal models, concluded that peppermint essential oil might inhibit asthma caused by PM10 or particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns or less. The researchers came to this conclusion after observing in vitro that collagen deposits, the activation of goblet cells responsible for mucus secretion, and respiratory epithelium hyperplasia were inhibited following the subjects’ inhalation of the peppermint oil via a nebulizer. 

Gyorgyi Horvath et al. also listed peppermint oil as one of the essential oils that, when inhaled, may be effective against respiratory tract infections such as chronic bronchitis, which is associated with excessive production of mucus and pneumonia and involves inflammation of the lower respiratory tract, based on existing in vivo and in vitro studies.

According to Gyorgyi Horvath et al., research has found that menthol is a TRPV1 antagonist. TRPV has been found to play a critical role in lung diseases. In their study, Mi Hye Kim et al. found that peppermint oil suppressed the IL-6/JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway-mediated production of cytokines, which have been found to induce the pro-inflammatory effects that are characteristic of some respiratory diseases.

Based on the Abbas Meamarbashi et al. study, ingestion of 0.05 ml of peppermint oil every day for ten days sufficed for one to benefit from the lung function-enhancing properties of peppermint. However, since the subjects involved were healthy male university students, consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before using peppermint oil to determine the correct dosage for other individuals who do not fit the category.

6. Reduces Muscle Spasms

Research has proven that peppermint can reduce muscle spasms. A study by H. Gobel et al. found a reduction in the EMG surface activity of the temporal muscle of healthy male subjects following each topical application of 10 g of peppermint oil prepared in distinct ways; one in combination with eucalyptus oil and ethanol, and the other combined with ethanol. The peppermint oil mixed with eucalyptus oil and ethanol yielded a more significant effect than the eucalyptus oil and ethanol combination and ethanol alone.

Another animal model study by Albertina Antonielly Sydney de Sousa et al. noted that 100 and 300 μg/ml of peppermint oil suppressed carbachol-induced tracheal smooth muscle contractions in the subjects. The researchers said the relaxation was “significant” compared to the control group, at 23.0 ± 8.6% for a dose of 100 μg/ml and 111.0 ± 5.8% for the 300 μg/ml dose.

The Albertina Antonielly Sydney de Sousa et al. study identified that peppermint’s prostaglandin component is behind the oil’s antispasmodic property. It added that peppermint oil also indirectly stimulates the activation of the anti-inflammatory enzyme nitric oxide synthase by stimulating the non-adrenergic non-cholinergic fibers. H. Gobel et al. attributed the muscle relaxation property to brainstem reflex conditioning that is activated upon stimuli exposure. As the conditioning stimuli increase, the reduction also increases. 

Based on the H. Gobel study, topical application of 10 g of peppermint oil sufficed for one to benefit from the antispasmodic property of the herb. Since the peppermint oil used in the study involved specific preparations and healthy male subjects, consultation with a healthcare professional is still advised before peppermint supplementation to determine the proper peppermint dosage if used alone and if used by individuals who do not fall under this specific category.

7. Alleviates Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Studies have found that peppermint can alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. In their meta-analysis of pooled clinical data from 1979 to 2016 on the effects of peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome, researchers N Alammar et al. concluded that peppermint oil had been proven to be a “safe and effective therapy” for IBS symptoms and pain in adults. Of the 12 studies included in the comprehensive review, the researchers said seven reported improving subjects’  IBS global symptoms. Six also reported an improvement in abdominal pain associated with IBS. The treatment period for the studies ranged from two to 12 weeks.

A more recent study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2021 by Judy Nee et al. found that the use of enteric-coated peppermint oil, in particular, resulted in a “clinically meaningful” improvement of moderate to severe symptoms in patients diagnosed with IBS. The subjects had consumed 180 mg of peppermint oil three times daily for six weeks.

A study by Alexander Ford et al. noted that the IBS symptom-relieving property of peppermint oil might have to do with its effects on smooth muscle. Researchers Judith Hill et al. attributed the muscle relaxant effect of peppermint oil to its calcium antagonist property. They stated that the peppermint oil reduced calcium influx through membrane calcium channels, depriving the body of the calcium it needs for the contractions. The researchers, however, did not state the specific component of peppermint oil that was responsible for this.

Based on the 2021 study by Judy Nee et al., intake of 180 mg of enteric-coated peppermint oil three times a day for six weeks sufficed for one to benefit from the IBS symptom-alleviating property of the herb. However, consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before consuming peppermint supplements.

8. Helps Boost Blood Circulation

Research has proven that peppermint can help boost blood circulation. A study by Daniel H. Craighead et al. found that healthy, non-smoking subjects who were administered 1 ml of a 4% menthol gel on the forearm yielded an increase in cutaneous blood flow as shown by brachial auscultation results compared to pre-test values measured for five minutes before the topical application and compared to the placebo. Menthol is a component of peppermint. According to the researchers, the increase was dose-dependent. The ED50, or the dose that yields this effect in half of the subjects tested, was 1% menthol. 

Another study by Ji Young Oh et al., using animal models, found that topical application of a 3% peppermint essential oil solution in subjects stimulated the dermal papilla and alkaline phosphatase activity at week two of the four-week treatment, therefore enhancing blood circulation. The result, as observed in the models, was increased hair growth. 

Researchers Daniel H. Craighead et al. suggested that the blood-circulating property of menthol was due to the peppermint component’s ability to sensitize the nerves, thereby increasing vasodilation or the widening of blood vessels.

Based on the Daniel H. Craighead et al. study, a single topical application of 1 ml of a 4% menthol gel sufficed for one to benefit from this blood circulation-enhancing property. However, consultation with a healthcare professional before consuming peppermint supplements is advised to determine the proper dosage for individuals who do not fall under the same category as the subjects (healthy, active non-smokers) involved in the Daniel H. Craighead et al. study.

9. Aids Headache

Research has found that peppermint can help treat headaches. A study by H. Gobel et al. found that peppermint oil in different preparations; one with 10 g of the essential oil combined with ethanol and the other with eucalyptus oil and ethanol, applied on the forehead with a sponge of healthy subjects aged 20 and 30 who were exposed to external stimuli that induced head pain, decreased the temporal muscle’s EMG surface activity by 30.6% and 28.8%. According to the researchers, an increase in EMG surface-level activity is a symptom of tension headaches. Meanwhile, peppermint oil and ethanol combined showed a “very significant” reduction of 40.3% in pain sensitivity to heat stimuli.

Another study by H. Gobel et al. found that a 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution applied primarily across the forehead and temples of patients aged 18 and 65 significantly reduced their headaches 15 minutes after the solution was used. The researchers found no significant difference between the efficacy of that solution and 1,000 mg of acetaminophen taken in capsule form during the headache attack.

According to the researchers, the headache-relieving properties of peppermint can be attributed to its menthol component, which can activate the cold fibers in the skin. The cold stimuli, the researchers stated, may lead to a decrease in the C-fiber-transmitted pain information. The researchers also noted previous studies have found that menthol increased the flow of head skin capillaries, leading to pain alleviation.

Based on the studies, a 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution applied during a headache attack sufficed for one to benefit from the headache-alleviation property of peppermint. Consultation with a healthcare professional is still advised before consuming peppermint supplements.

10. Treats Stress

Studies have found that peppermint can alleviate stress. The research by Fatemeh Akbari et al. that found peppermint oil can relieve pain also found that the intravenous catheterization-induced anxiety levels of the same cardiac patients who underwent peppermint aromatherapy decreased before and after the treatment, with a mean score of 3.405-4.095 pre-treatment as opposed to the 2.014-2.636 after the intervention. 

Another study by Masahiro Toda et al. reported significantly less stress in healthy female university students (21 to 27 years old) who inhaled 150 μL of peppermint oil on a filter paper 10 cm away from their nose for ten minutes. The low-stress levels were also reported five and ten minutes following the exposure. The researchers found that the reduction in stress levels was subjective. A reduction in salivary cortisol levels was also observed post-treatment, a condition that, according to the researchers, was indicative of stress reduction. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands when the body perceives stress.

Researchers Fatemeh Akbari et al. noted the analgesic properties of peppermint oil in their study on the herb’s effects on stress. They stated that these properties could be attributed to the herb’s carvone, limonene, and menthol content. Menthol, in particular, they said, alleviated pain by stimulating cellular threshold and reducing synoptic stimulations. The researchers noted that there is a direct relationship between pain and anxiety.

Based on the Fatemeh Akbari et al. study, inhalation of three drops of peppermint oil in a cotton ball for five minutes sufficed for one to benefit from the stress-relieving properties of peppermint. The Masahiro Toda et al. study noted positive results with inhalation of 150 μL of peppermint oil for ten minutes. Since the studies involved specific subjects, the Fatemeh Akbari et al. study subjects were cardiac patients who experienced stress brought about by intravenous catheterization, while the Masahiro Toda et al. study subjects were healthy female university students. Therefore, consultation with a healthcare professional is advised to determine the proper peppermint dosage for individuals who wish to benefit from the stress-relieving properties of the herb.

 

What Are The Risks (Side Effects) Of Peppermint?

Peppermint is considered safe when consumed orally or topically in therapeutic doses. However, when consumed in excess orally, it can yield the following side effects:

  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • dry mouth 
  • heartburn

Researchers Somya S. Nath et al. reported a 40-year-old patient left comatose after ingestion of very high doses of peppermint. This case appears to be the only one reported of its kind.

When applied in excessive amounts on the skin, peppermint can lead to:

  • rashes 

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has said that peppermint oil, in particular, rarely results in allergic reactions.

 

How Does Peppermint Work Within The Human Body?

The studies that confirmed the positive effects of peppermint on the body emphasize the crucial role of menthol and prostaglandin in arriving at these health properties. Once inside the body, menthol, in particular, suppresses the IL-6/JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway-mediated production of cytokines, exhibiting pro-inflammatory activity that contributes to some respiratory diseases. The result is that peppermint can improve lung function.

Researchers have said the herb may also activate A-delta fibers and K-opioid receptors, which play a role in itch reduction, alleviating skin itchiness. The cold stimuli, the researchers stated, may help decrease the C-fiber-transmitted pain information and increase the flow of capillaries, which may lead to pain alleviation and, therefore, anxiety reduction. The peppermint may also reduce calcium influx through membrane calcium channels, depriving the body of the calcium it needs for muscle contractions and alleviating irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. The herb’s prostaglandin component also indirectly stimulates the activation of the anti-inflammatory enzyme nitric oxide synthase, resulting in the herb’s antispasmodic property. 

How Do You Determine The Correct Peppermint Dosage?

The correct peppermint dosage depends on the health benefit one wishes to gain from the herb. For instance, studies found that topical application of peppermint oil two times daily for two weeks sufficed to alleviate the itch. Inhalation of three drops of peppermint oil in a vehicle was also enough for one to benefit from the pain-reducing effects of the herb. Research has found that 2 g of peppermint daily on the affected area for four weeks sufficed for those who prefer the topical application to benefit from the herb’s properties. 

Research has found that those who wish to treat vomiting can ingest 40 drops of peppermint extract or apply peppermint oil three times daily between the upper lip and nose to see positive results. According to the Abbas Meamarbashi et al. study, ingestion of 0.05 ml of peppermint oil every day for 10 days was enough for one to benefit from the lung function-enhancing properties of the herb. Based on the H. Gobel study, topical application of 10 g of peppermint oil sufficed to help prevent muscle spasms, while intake of 180 mg of enteric-coated peppermint oil three times daily for six weeks is recommended for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

A topical application of 1 ml of a 4% menthol gel is recommended for one to benefit from peppermint’s blood circulation-enhancing property. Meanwhile, according to research, a single topical application of 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution sufficed to treat headaches. Inhalation of 150 μL of peppermint oil for ten minutes sufficed for stress reduction.

 

What Are The Most Common Questions For Peppermint Usage?

A check online shows the most common questions about peppermint revolve around its health benefits and side effects. Below are some of those inquiries:

  • What are the benefits of peppermint essential oil?
  • Is peppermint good for the stomach?
  • What are peppermint’s side effects?
  • What are the health benefits of peppermint leaves?
  • Can peppermint be harmful?
  • What does peppermint do to your brain?
  • Is peppermint good for mental health?
  • Is peppermint oil harmful to humans?
  • What are the benefits of peppermint oil for the skin?
  • How much peppermint oil is toxic?
  • What are the benefits of peppermint oil in a diffuser?
  • What are the side effects of peppermint oil?

Some questions also revolve around actual peppermint use. Below are some examples of these inquiries:

  • Can peppermint oil be applied directly?
  • Can peppermint oil be taken daily?
  • Can you ingest essential peppermint oil?
  • Can you use peppermint in food?
  • Can you inhale peppermint?

 

What Are The Facts About Peppermint?

There are many interesting facts about peppermint. The plant grows from 30 to 90 cm and has smooth stems. Since it is a hybrid plant, it does not produce seeds. Instead, it reproduces asexually through vegetative reproduction via its runners, which grow from the stems below the soil.

Peppermint is an invasive plant that can spread and overrun other plants in the garden given the right conditions like rich soil and proper drainage. Gardeners, therefore, recommend growing peppermint in containers and not directly in the ground. Peppermint is an essential commercial crop in the United States and grows in states such as Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Oregon.

What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Peppermint?

Peppermint has a high nutritional value. The following minerals are contained in 100 g of peppermint: 243 mg of calcium, 5.08 mg of iron, 569 mg of potassium, 80 mg of magnesium, 0.329 mg of copper, 1.176 mg of manganese, 1.11 mg of zinc, 73 mg of phosphorus, and 31 mg of sodium. Peppermint is also rich in vitamin A (4248 IU), vitamin C (31.8 mg), folate (114 μg/ml), vitamin B2 (0.266 mg), vitamin B1 (0.082 mg), vitamin B6 (0.129 mg), vitamin B3 (1.706 mg), and vitamin B5 (0.338 mg). Peppermint has also been found to contain menthol (36.02%), menthone (24.56%), menthyl acetate (8.95%), menthofuran (6.88%), 1,8 –cineole (5.13%), cis-carveol (3.49%), carvone (2.30%), and terpinolene (2.02%), among others.

How Is Peppermint Processed?

Peppermint does not need to undergo a complex process to be harvested. According to Wikifarmer, a gardening website, harvesting the herb typically occurs in the summer. The leaves are cut off and crushed in a glass jar with a cover to produce peppermint oil. The Los Angeles Times recommends covering the leaves with grapeseed or olive oil before the jar is closed. It should be stored after shaking. After three days, the resulting liquid should be strained, and the leaves should be disposed of. The same jar should be refilled with new peppermint leaves and fresh oil. If the resulting liquid is still not enough for use, the process should be repeated.

According to Brian Baker et al., many of the peppermint oil supplements sold on the market are produced via steam distillation. The process involves separating the oil from the leaves by distilling peppermint in water with a current of steam. Other methods of peppermint processing include crystallization and vacuum distillation, which involves distillation at low-pressure points.  

The cut leaves need to be washed with water to process peppermint into powder form, removing foreign agents. Afterward, the leaves should dry on a towel under the sun for six to eight hours or in the oven for two hours. Once they become crisp, they can be ground into powder form. 

What Are The Supplement Forms Of Peppermint?

Peppermint comes in many types of supplements. Those who wish to experience the herb’s benefits may consume it in the following forms:

1. Peppermint Oil 

Peppermint oil is derived commercially from peppermint leaves that typically undergo steam distillation. Some supplement manufacturers, such as Herb Pharm, mix the oil with other peppermint aerial parts extracts; others sell peppermint oil in pure form. Because of these different forms, peppermint oil can be consumed in different ways. Herb Pharm, for example, recommends mixing its proprietary blend of peppermint oil and aerial parts extract in at least 2 oz of water or juice before ingestion. On the other hand, NOW recommends diluting its raw peppermint oil in a carrier oil such as jojoba, grapeseed, or almond oil for aromatherapy use. Garden Lab recommends mixing its peppermint oil in shampoos, conditioners, and water in foot baths for topical use.

Why Is Peppermint Oil Extract Useful?

Peppermint oil extract is helpful because, when consumed orally, it allows for faster absorption and optimized use. According to Medicare Europe, this is because the body doesn’t need to break liquid extracts down for digestion. It requires only one to four minutes to be assimilated fully, and when it does, the body uses around 98% of the liquid extract. Peppermint oil supplements used topically and for aromatherapy are ideal for patients who have difficulty swallowing or are prone to gastrointestinal problems. 

However, there are disadvantages to using peppermint oil. Because it is liquid, users have a higher risk of overdosing than consuming tablets or capsules. Supplements in solid form have a fixed amount of peppermint, but the amount of peppermint oil supplement ingested, used topically, or inhaled by the patient ultimately depends on what they or a medical professional administers.

2. Peppermint Raw Powder 

Peppermint raw powder supplements are the herb’s pulverized leaves. The raw powder form can be consumed in several ways. Some users mix it with other formulations, such as toothpaste or facial scrubs for topical application. Cedar Alley recommends adding ¼ or ½ a teaspoon of its raw powder to tea, shakes, or smoothies for ingestion. Urbanfood recommends adding its raw peppermint powder to food such as yogurt, salads, and ice cream. 

3. Peppermint Pills

The powder or essential oil derived from peppermint can also be enclosed in capsules for oral consumption by users. Some studies that confirmed the herb’s health benefits involved peppermint in this form. For instance, the Judy Nee study that confirmed the positive effect of peppermint on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms involved subjects ingesting 180 mg of peppermint oil in enteric-coated capsules three times per day for six weeks.

Consumers can be more accurate in their dosage with pills than with liquid extracts since each of these solid forms sold by supplement manufacturers already comes with a specific dose. For example, one Best Naturals peppermint capsule contains a fixed 50 mg peppermint oil and 200 mg of peppermint leaf powder. Meanwhile, one Nature’s Way capsule contains 350 mg of peppermint leaf extract.

What Is The Etymology Of Peppermint?

According to Vocabulary.com, the word peppermint was first coined in the 17th century and was a marriage of the words “pepper,” which seeks to describe the herb’s peppery aroma and taste and “mint.” Gernot Katzer, a website dedicated to spices, stated that the term “pepper” itself was derived from “pippali,” the Sanskrit name for “long pepper.” The website noted that the etymology of “pippali” itself was unknown. The term “mint,” meanwhile, the website noted, was derived from the Latin word “mentha,” which in turn came from the Greek word “minthe.” Some sources report that “Minthe” in Greek mythology was a nymph who became a mint plant. This term was derived from a Proto-Indo-European root from which the Sanskrit words “mantha” and “mathana” originated.

What Place Does Peppermint Have In Society And Culture?

Peppermint plays an essential role in society and culture and is consumed in many ways. Peppermint is used as an ingredient in the kitchen, particularly in Western and Asian cultures, typically to flavor pastries and drinks, giving them their intense, almost spicy flavor. The herb is also a vital ingredient in the cosmetic industry and is used to provide mouthwashes, toothpaste, and even soaps with their minty fragrance. Peppermint supplements are also used to treat irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, muscle pain, and stress.

According to a report by Data Bridge, the global peppermint essential oil market, in particular, is expected to grow at a rate of 8.9% in its forecast period until 2027. The report cited the rising awareness of the need for personal care, the increase in consumers’ disposable income, and the increasing demand for aromatherapy treatments as reasons for this growth. A Persistence Market Research report noted that the organic peppermint oil segment was expected to post the highest growth rate, at 7.5%, with the increase in the demand for chemical-free products.

What Are Some Food Recipes That Contain Peppermint?

Peppermint is a widely used ingredient in dishes and beverages. Below are some recipes that feature the herb as the main ingredient or a condiment.

  • Peppermint hot cocoa: This mixture of peppermint and cocoa is typically consumed hot on cold days.
  • Chocolate peppermint cake: This dessert cake is sprinkled with peppermint powder to give it an almost spicy flavor.
  • Peppermint cookies: These cookies laced with peppermint extract have a sweet and spicy taste.
  • Shamrock shakes: The beverage is a blend of ice cream, peppermint extract, and milk.
  • Peppermint brownies: These moist chocolate brownies with a spicy twist are typically consumed for dessert.
  • Gingerbread peppermint pinwheels: These cookies are a fusion of gingerbread and peppermint 
  • Mint chicken curry: This is a staple in Indian cuisine. Although spearmint is the preferred mint ingredient, peppermint may also be used.

 

What Are The Peppermint Parts?

A peppermint plant has many parts. Below are these parts:

  • Leaves: The leaf is the most widely used part of the plant for its health properties or culinary purposes. It can also be used to add aroma to cosmetic products such as soaps and face masks. Peppermint leaves are dark green and measure around 4.5 x 5.3 cm.
  • Stem: The stems are erect and smooth. They have a reddish-green color. 
  • Flowers: These are purple and grow around a thick spike in the stem.
  • Roots: The roots can go from 2 to 24 inches deep and need to be contained to prevent the herb from overrunning other plants.

 

What Is The History Of Peppermint?

Peppermint was believed to have originated around 1500 B.C. An Egyptian medical text, Ebers Papyrus, described the herb as calming for stomach pains. Peppermint leaves around 3,000 years old were also discovered in Egyptian chambers, believed to have been a part of the wealth the dead wanted to take with them to the afterlife. The essential oil derived from peppermint leaves, after all, was at that time so valuable in Egypt that it was considered a form of currency, according to Ladibugs. 

It was unclear how the herb managed to get to Europe, but ancient Romans already used peppermint to add flavor to their dishes and wine, according to Scrumptious Bites, a food website. The Roman philosopher Pliny described mint and peppermint as stirring “the mind and appetite to a greedy desire of food.” The plant also served decorative purposes on dining tables. Noblemen were believed to use peppermint stems to create crowns. The herb was also mentioned in Icelandic Pharmacopeias in 1240 A.D. to treat specific health conditions. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a tooth polisher and an ingredient in cheese to keep mice away because of its pungent odor. The herb was also believed to be used by Indigenous tribes of North America for its therapeutic properties.

 

What Are The Other Plants That Are Called Peppermint From Time To Time?

Peppermint is sometimes confused with other plants because of their similarities. Below are some of those plants:

  • Watermint: This plant, with the scientific name Mentha aquatica, is sometimes confused with peppermint because it belongs to the same Mentha genus. It is also the species that is hybridized with spearmint to produce peppermint.
  • Spearmint: This plant, with the scientific name Mentha spicata, is sometimes confused with peppermint because it belongs to the same Mentha genus. It is the species that is hybridized with watermint to produce peppermint.
  • Mint: Peppermint is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “mint.” Although peppermint is a type of mint, equating it with “mint” is inaccurate because it is not the only mint plant. The term “mint” is a more encompassing term that refers to all the species in the Mentha genus.
  • Bergamot mint: This plant, with the scientific name Mentha citrata, is sometimes confused with peppermint because it belongs to the same genus Mentha. It is also a peppermint lookalike and can only be differentiated by cutting its leaves and crushing them. If the scent is lemony rather than pungent, it is Bergamot mint.

Are Peppermint Supplements Approved By The Authorities?

No. The Food and Drug Administration regulates health supplements like peppermint as dietary supplements, not as drugs. That means supplements do not need prior approval from the FDA to be sold. However, once they are on the market, the FDA starts exercising its safety monitoring function and reviews supplement labels and promotional materials as its resources allow and monitors safety complaints about the product. The supplement manufacturer is required to report complaints to the FDA within 15 days. 

Is Peppermint An Anticoagulant?

No. The herb, which contains menthol, has been found, in vitro, to inhibit CYP2C9, which is an enzyme critical to the mechanism that allows anticoagulants such as warfarin to work, according to Dr. John Horn and Philip Hansten, professors at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy. Several cases of peppermint possibly interacting with warfarin have also been documented. For instance, researchers Aliasghar Moeinipour et al. reported the case of a 68-year-old woman who experienced severe dyspnea, or a feeling of suffocation, after consuming high amounts of peppermint tea before she started her warfarin treatment following her cardiac surgery. Karen Coderre et al. also documented the case of a 46-year-old African-American man whose international normalized ratio, which assesses the effectiveness of warfarin, dropped to 1.6 from a therapeutic value of 2.6 even when receiving 50 mg of the drug weekly for his venous thromboembolism. The INR remained at 1.6 for three weeks, even with increases in his warfarin dosage. According to Karen Coderre et al., the patient reported he had consumed 8 to 10 cough drops of menthol, a component of peppermint, each day when his international normalized ratio went down.

The researchers, therefore, recommended exercising caution in consuming peppermint when on anticoagulants. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before consumption of peppermint supplements. 

Can You Take Peppermint At Night?

Yes, you can. Research has found that peppermint can improve sleep quality. A study by Somayeh Mahdavikian et al. found that the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores of patients subjected to peppermint aromatherapy or three drops of peppermint oil dropped in a napkin and attached to the patients’ collar improved after the 20-minute therapy. According to the researchers, the mean sleep quality scores were 14.8 ± 1.3 and 4.0 ± 2.1 before and after the aromatherapy session. In a Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the higher the total score from 0 to 21, the worse the sleep quality. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before consumption of peppermint supplements.

Can You Take Peppermint After A Meal?

Yes. According to L I Spirling et al., peppermint can be taken after a meal because it can help reduce indigestion and spasms of the colon. Peppermint can reduce the gastrocolic reflex, which signals to the body that the stomach, which contains food, needs to be emptied to give more room to food. A strong reflex leads to a person feeling abdominal pain and cramps and even experiencing diarrhea or constipation. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before consumption of peppermint supplements.

Can You Take Peppermint Every Day?

Yes, you can. Some studies that confirmed the positive effects of peppermint on human health involved subjects using the herb daily, whether topically or orally, or via aromatherapy. For instance, the Abbas Meamarbashi et al. study found an improvement in the lung function of its subjects who performed a treadmill exercise. It involved them ingesting 0.05 ml of peppermint oil dissolved in 500 ml of water every day for 10 days. The study by Nuriye Efe Erturk et al. that found peppermint can help treat vomiting involved subjects inhaling the herb after topical application on their upper lip and nose three times daily for five days. The study by Marjan Akhavan Amjadi et al. that found a statistically significant reduction in the severity of itch in pregnant women diagnosed with pruritus gravidarum involved the topical application of peppermint oil on the affected area two times a day for two weeks. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before consumption of peppermint supplements.

Can A Child Take Peppermint Oil?

It depends on the age. According to the John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, using peppermint oil on children under 30 months old is not advised since it can lead to seizures. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the use of oil, whether topically or via inhalation., can also affect infants’ breathing.

However, a study by R M Kline et al. found that the irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in children aged 8 to 17 improved when they ingested one to two peppermint oil enteric-coated capsules daily, depending on their weight. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advised before consumption of peppermint health supplements.

Can Your Pet Consume Peppermint?

No. According to the American Kennel Club, peppermint is one of several essential oils toxic to dogs, whether ingested orally or applied topically. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, in general, many of the chemicals in essential oils are metabolized in the liver. Some essential oils also lead to gastrointestinal problems in dogs and cats and can burn their skin.

Which Tree Produces Peppermint?

The Peppermint plant, with the scientific name Mentha x piperita, produces peppermint. The leaves can be ground into raw powder or extracted as an essential oil to produce supplements or food and cosmetic ingredients.

Peppermint

What Are The Top Scientific Research Topics For Peppermint?

Peppermint is of interest to researchers. Studies found online focus on ideas revolving around the plant as a therapeutic remedy and its composition and other uses. Below are the top scientific topics on peppermint:

  • The effects of peppermint on exercise performance
  • Peppermint and its functionality
  • Therapeutic uses of peppermint
  • Final report on the safety assessment of Mentha piperita
  • Quantity and chemical composition of essential oil of peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.) leaves under different drying methods
  • A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.)
  • The effect of aromatherapy with peppermint essential oil on the anxiety of cardiac patients in the emergency department: A placebo-controlled study
  • Peppermint and peppermint oil profile
  • Investigation of the effects of peppermint (Mentha piperita) on the biochemical and anthropometric profile of university students
  • The effects of peppermint and orange aromas on mood and task performance: A research study and process narration

Does Peppermint Help With Nausea?

Yes. A study by Carla Mohr et al. found that nausea and vomiting of two sets of hospitalized patients improved according to Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale results taken 60 minutes after one group inhaled four drops of peppermint essential oil in a cotton ball. The other group underwent the aromatherapy session and opted for an antiemetic intervention also. However, the researchers noted that patients in the aromatherapy-only group reported a significant improvement in nausea and vomiting post-treatment than in the aromatherapy plus antiemetic group. The researchers stated the aromatherapy group improved from 5.34 to 2.00, while the aromatherapy and antiemetic group improved from 5.98 to 4.25.

The researchers did not specify which component of peppermint was responsible for this nausea-alleviating effect, but a study by Pei Lin Lua et al. stated that it might be the herb’s menthyl acetate. Pei Lin Lua et al. noted that odors had been proven to affect mood and behavior due to olfactory molecules sending signals to the brain. According to Prashant Singh et al., nausea occurs when stimuli from the chemoreceptor trigger zone reach the brain, informing it to initiate the action.

Is Peppermint Good For Anxiety?

Yes. A study by Abeer Abdelahim found that the anxiety levels of university students who drank a peppermint tea infusion of 250 mg in hot water 30 minutes before bedtime daily were reduced based on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory results. From the baseline mean score of 42.3, the mean score went down to 39.82 after four weeks.

Another study by Mohsen Soleimani et al. found the anxiety levels of patients with acute coronary syndrome decreased significantly based on the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory compared to the control group, 37.72 ± 10.41 as compared to the 42.62 ± 5.99, after they inhaled 100% peppermint essential oil in a cotton ball that was placed 20 cm from their nose for one hour. The researchers also found a significant decrease in anxiety levels after the intervention compared to before the treatment.

 

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