Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

peppermint-cover.jpg

Peppermint Summary

Peppermint is by far one of the most loved and popular herbs in the world.

The fresh minty scent of the primary constituent of peppermint — menthol — is used as a flavoring in candies, cigarettes, candles, and cosmetics.

The essential oil of mint contains its main active constituents, menthol, and menthone. These chemicals are antibacterial in nature and deliver a cooling sensation when applied to the skin or consumed internally. This makes it useful for burns, skin rashes, or other irritations of the skin or gastric mucosa.

The herbs high volatile component makes it useful as a carminative for bloating and indigestion.

 

+ Indications

  • An additive to bitter tasting medicines
  • Chronic digestive conditions
  • Colds/flus
  • Dyspepsia
  • Enteritis
  • Gastritis
  • GIT spasms
  • Heart palpitations
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Respiratory catarrh

+ Contraindications

  • Gastric reflux
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Take at least 2 hours apart from iron supplements
  • Caution advised if allergies to Aspirin

Herbal Actions:

  • Antiemetic
  • Antitussive
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiallergy
  • Antispasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Cholagogue
  • Diaphoretic
  • Sedative (mild)
 

What is Peppermint Used For?

Peppermint's medicinal uses mainly involve conditions of the gastrointestinal tract including indigestion, nausea, and vomiting, gastritis, gastrointestinal spasms, or inflammatory bowel disease.

Topically peppermint is used to provide a cooling sensation to burns, inflammation, or skin irritations. It has a mild analgesic effect, and muscle relaxant activity making it useful for muscle damage as well.

 

Traditional Uses of Peppermint

Mentha piperita (peppermint), along with other mints have a long history of use throughout Europe.

In the Mediterranean, mints were used traditionally to treat gas, bloating, and as a local analgesic for tooth and abdominal pains, inflammatory conditions, headaches, as well as for its antiseptic qualities [7].

 

Technical Information: Peppermint

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves

Family Name

  • Lamiaceae

Distribution

  • Europe & North America

Follow Us On Social Media

Constituents of Interest

  • Menthol
  • Menthone
  • Phenolic Acids

Common Names

  • Peppermint
  • Piperita

CYP450

Unknown

Duration of Use

  • Avoid long-term use in therapeutic doses.
 

Botanical Information

Peppermint is a member of the Lamiaceae family (mint family). This family contains between 6900 and 7200 species spread out through 236 different genera.

Other medicinal or culinary species in this family includes basil, lavander, lemon balm, leonotis, hyssop, catnip, prunella, chaste-tree, tinnea, skullcap, sage, and rosemary.

 

Habitat Ecology, & Distribution

Peppermint can be found growing across Europe and North America, mainly in moist areas such as near streams and bogs [11].

In North America, this perennial plant can become a bit of a nuisance if allowed to seed each autumn and has a tendency of spreading throughout the garden very rapidly.

 

Harvesting Collection, and Preparation

Mint is an easy to cultivate herb and can be grown in small containers indoors or outdoors. It has been a popular culinary herb worldwide and was cultivated by ancient societies such as the ancient Egyptians and ancient Romans [11].

Currently, the most important producers of this herb on a large scale in The United States of American, particularly in the Michigan region [11].

The herb should be picked and harvested right before flowering to maintain the highest quality and volume of volatile oils [11].

 

Pharmacology & Medical Research

Antimicrobial Effects:

In the past, studies have shown that Mentha piperita essential oil and ethanol extracts possess antiviral [2], antibacterial [3, 4], antifungal [3], and anti-biofilm formation [5, 6].

These effects are important moving forward in medicine, as it becomes crucial that we find new and active antimicrobial agents to combat the ever-increasing threat of drug resistance. One approach is to turn to phytochemicals and other natural medicines for help.

Antimutagenic Effects

Mentha piperita has been shown to reduce tobacco-induced oral carcinogenesis in the hamster cheek pouch [8].

Antinociceptive Effects

A study investigating the effects of an aqueous extract of Mentha piperita on mice found that it was able to provide nociceptive protection against injection of acetic acid.

Due to some of the other data gathered by this study — which found no decrease in edema in the paws of mice — it's suggested that the antinociceptive actions of this plant have no relation to anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore it's likely there's a different mechanism of action for this effect [7].

Some other similar studies found that an ethanolic extract was able to produce a measurable reduction in systemic inflammation [10].

Menthol as a Preservative

Though this action does not have direct implications on health, it can have indirect benefit, by allowing the essential oil of Mentha piperita as a preservative in herbal cosmetics, salves, lotions, and ointments, rather than harsh chemicals or alcohol. Due to Mentha Piperita antimicrobial [2-6] and antioxidant actions [3], it should be considered as a preservative agent in these sorts of products.

 

Phytochemistry

+ List Of Constituents In Peppermint

  • Phenolic acids
  • Tannins
  • Resins
  • Essential oils (content measured out of distilled essential oil as outlined by the British Pharmacopoeia)
    • alpha-Pinene (0.32%)
    • Sabinene (0.26%)
    • Beta-pinene (0.58%)
    • 1,8 Cineol (6.69%)
    • cis-Sabinene hydrate (0.5%)
    • Menthone (2.45%)
    • Menthofuran (11.18%)
    • Neomenthol (2.79%)
    • Menthol (53.28%)
    • Neomenthyl acetate (0.65%)
    • Menthyl Acetate (15.1%)
    • Isomenthyl acetate (0.61%)
    • beta-Bourbonene (0.37%)
    • (z)-Caryophyllene (2.06%)
    • E-beta-farnesene (0.3%)
    • Germacrene D (2.01%)
    • Bicyclogermacrene (0.22%)

Constituents of essential oil measured via gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry [1].

 

Clinical Applications Of Peppermint:

Most of peppermints use revolve around its essential oil. Whether as a flavoring agent, refrigerant, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant, peppermint is almost seldom used alone.

Liquid extracts are often used in formulations to provide a cooling sensation in the stomach and are used to relieve flatulence and bloating alongside bitter herbs.

The essential oil is a popular addition to topical creams and salves for its cooling sensation, and characteristic scent.

 

Cautions:

Contraindicated with gastroesophageal reflux disease as menthol is a well-known cause of this condition. It relaxes the pyloric sphincter, allowing the reflux of stomach acid. This is true even for menthol cigarettes.

Peppermint can reduce iron absorption due to tannins present, take away from meals and supplements containing iron [12].

Caution with patients with salicylate or aspirin sensitivity [12].

Be wary of some of the adulterants that are associated with both peppermint essential oils (such as camphor oil, cedarwood oil, turpentine, ethanol, and African copaiba oil), and with the crystallized menthol (such as Epsom salts) [11].

 

Synergy

For non-ulcer dyspepsia combine with caraway and wormwood .

Chronic digestive problems combine with fennel, caraway, and gentian.

YEP tea combines yarrow, elder, and peppermint.

Suggested to be useful for cold/flus when mixed with Elder (Sambucus nigra) [11].

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References:

  1. Saharkhiz, M. J., Motamedi, M., Zomorodian, K., Pakshir, K., Miri, R., & Hemyari, K. (2012). Chemical Composition, Antifungal and Antibiofilm Activities of the Essential Oil of Mentha piperita L. ISRN Pharmaceutics, 2012, 1-6. doi:10.5402/2012/718645

  2. E. C. Herrmann Jr. and L. S. Kucera, (1967). “Antiviral substances in plants of the mint family (labiatae). 3. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and other mint plants,” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, vol. 124, no. 3, pp. 874–878

  3. S. Kizil, N. Hasimi, V. Tolan, E. Kilinc, and U. Yuksel, (2010). Mineral content, essential oil components and biological activity of two mentha species (M. piperita L., M. spicata L.), Turkish Journal of Field Crops, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 148–153

  4. M. Saokovic, P. D. Mari, D. Brikic, and J. L. D. Leo, (2007). Chemical Composition and AntiBacterial Activity of Essential Oils of Ten Aromatic Plants Against Human Pathogenic Bacteria, Food Global Science Books

  5. V. Agarwal, P. Lal, and V. Pruthi, (2008). Prevention of Candida albicans biofilm by plant oils, Mycopathologia, vol. 165, no. 1, pp. 13–19

  6. M. Sandasi, C. M. Leonard, and A. M. Viljoen, (2010). The in vitro antibiofilm activity of selected culinary herbs and medicinal plants against Listeria monocytogenes, Letters in Applied Microbiology, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 30–35

  7. Taher, Y. A. (2012). Antinociceptive activity of Mentha piperita leaf aqueous extract in mice.Libyan Journal of Medicine, 7(0). doi:10.3402/ljm.v7i0.16205

  8. Samman MA, Bowen ID, Taiba K, Antonius J, Hannan MA. (1998). Mint prevents shamma-induced carcinogenesis in hamster cheek pouch. Carcinogenesis. 19: 1795801.

  9. Inoue T, Sugimoto Y, Masuda H, Kamei C. (2002). Antiallergic effect of flavonoid glycosides obtained from Mentha piperita L. Biol Pharm Bull. 25: 2569.

  10. Atta AH, Alkofahi A. (1998). Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 60: 11724.

  11. A Modern Herbal. (1931). Mints. Retrieved from http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html

  12. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a.: Churchill Livingstone. (Pg. 369-373).