as: Black Peppermint, Herba Menthae,
Lamb Mint, Mentha Piperita.
Scientific name: Mentha
Botanical family: Lamiaceae/Labiatae.
Part used: Leaves and stems.
Peppermint is used for the common cold, cough, inflammation of
the mouth and throat, sinusitis, runny nose, fever, liver and
gallbladder complaints, irritable bowel syndrome, cramps of the
upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts, dyspepsia, fever,
flatulence, and for tension headache. It is also used for nausea,
vomiting, morning sickness, respiratory infections, painful
periods, diarrhea, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and as
Inhaled peppermint oil is used for symptomatic treatment of cough
Peppermint oil is used directly on the skin as an analgesic for
Peppermint is a common flavoring agent in foods and beverages.
Peppermint oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps and
cosmetics, and as a flavoring agent in pharmaceuticals.
There are no concerns regarding safety when used in amounts
commonly found in foods. Peppermint has Generally Recognized as
Safe (GRAS) status in the US.1
There are no concerns regarding safety when used in medicinal
amounts in children 8 years of age and older.
Traditionally catmint is used for children as it is less
stimulant than peppermint e.g. Dr Clare’s Childrens Tea Blend.
Pregnancy: No concerns regarding safety when
used orally in amounts commonly found in foods. Peppermint has
Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the US.1
Breastfeeding: as for pregnancy.
Essential oils, containing menthol, menthone and menthyl acetate.
Trace constituents include alpha-pinene, sabinene, terpinolene,
ocimene, gamma-terpinene, fenchene, alpha- and beta-thujone,
citronellol, and other compounds.2,3
Phenolic acids and lactones; rosmarinic acid, and others.
Miscellaneous; azulenes, choline, carotenes etc
No clinical studies have been done.
Mechanism of action.
Activity is primarily, but not exclusively, due to the actions of
the essential oils, from which a direct action on smooth muscle
organs cause a stronger anti-spasmodic effect than some of its
individual components. The antispasmodic effect has been
confirmed on the small intestines of guinea pigs.8
Peppermint tea brings about a considerable increases in the
production of bile. This activity has been confirmed in animal
experiments with dogs. 9
The antispasmodic effect of peppermint oil is used internally for
irritable bowel syndrome4 e.g. the medication
colpermin which is derived from peppermint oil. This appears to
result from direct relaxing effects on the gastrointestinal tract
smooth muscle, characteristic of calcium antagonist action. Be
careful with the oral use of any essential oils as they have very
powerful effects. The oils have very concentrated constituents.
Seek professional advice.
For pain in myalgias (muscle pain) and neuralgias (nerve pain),
menthol in topical peppermint oil is thought to have a direct
inhibitory effect on the sensitized pain receptors. Menthol might
also act on the central nervous system to alter pain
Preliminary research suggests that luteolin-7-O-rutinoside from
peppermint leaf can inhibit histamine release.2
Laboratory models of allergic rhinitis (runny nose) suggest that
peppermint leaf extract might relieve nasal symptoms.6
A mild sedative action has been confirmed in animal experiments
Topically; peppermint oil can cause skin irritation and contact
dermatitis.5 Always patch test on normal skin
Contact sensitivity in the mouth has been reported.7
Interactions with herbs and
Interactions with Drugs.
avoid internal use of peppermint oil with Cyclosporine (Neoral,
Sandimmune), which is an immune suppressant:
Recommended dose: 2-7mls per day 1:5 tincture 30% alcohol.
1. FDA. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,
Office of Premarket Approval, EAFUS: A food additive database.
Available at: vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/eafus.html.
2. Inoue T, Sugimoto Y, Masuda H, Kamei C. Antiallergic
effect of flavonoid glycosides obtained from Mentha piperita L.
Biol Pharm Bull 2002;25:256-9.
3. Nair B. Final report on the safety assessment of Mentha
Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf
Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf, and Mentha Piperita
(Peppermint) Leaf Water. Int J Toxicol 2001;20:61-73.
4. Storr M, Sibaev A, Weiser D, et al. Herbal extracts
modulate the amplitude and frequency of slow waves in circular
smooth muscle of mouse small intestine. Digestion 2004;70:257-63
5. Davies SJ, Harding LM, Baranowski AP. A novel treatment
of postherpetic neuralgia using peppermint oil.
Clin J Pain 2002;18:200-2.
6. Inoue T, Sugimoto Y, Masuda H, Kamei C. Effects of
peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) extracts on experimental allergic
rhinitis in rats. Biol Pharm Bull 2001;24:92-5.
7. Morton CA, Garioch J, Todd P, et al. Contact sensitivity
to menthol and peppermint in patients with intra-oral symptoms.
Contact Dermatitis 1995;32:281-4.
8. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Planta Med 40, 309-319 (1980).
9. Della Loggia R, Tibaro A, Lunder TL. Fitoterapia 61, 215-221
10. Miething H, Holz W. Pharm. Ztg. 133. 16-17. (1988)