Peppermint Summary:

Peppermint, has been used as medicine for at least 250 years. Mints in general however, have a history of use dating back 2000 years or more. It is hard to determine exactly which mints were used for what purposes since a differentiation of the species was not made until much later in human history. 

Menthol, and menthone are the chemicals mainly responsible for peppermints characteristic scent and flavour, and are found in its volatile oil. Concentrating this volatile or "essential" oil is by far the most common method of using this herb.

It's used in anything from medicine to flavourings in cigarettes, and candy, as well as sprays, soaps, candles, and as an addition to cosmetic products. It offers antibacterial, cooling, and antispasmodic actions as well as its delicious and characteristic aroma. 

Peppermint is a common ingredient in many topical salves, lip balms, and lotions, especially those involved with reducing pain and inflammation. It's cooling effect also makes it great to use on burns, with the added benefit of providing antimicrobial actions on the damaged skin.


Botanical Name

Mentha piperita

Family

Lamiaceae

Part Used

Leaf, essential oil

Herbal Actions:

  • Antiemetic
  • Antitussive
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiallergy
  • Antispasmodic [11]
  • Antitumor
  • Carminative
  • Cholagogue
  • Diaphoretic [11]
  • Sedative (mild)
  • Diaphoretic (mild)
Peppermint leaves.jpeg

Dosage

Liquid Extract (1:2)

1.5-4.5 mL/day

Essential Oil

A few drops on the temples and back of the nexk for headaches.

Recommended Source

Indications

[11, 12]

+ Internally

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

+ Topically

  • Headaches
  • Heat exhaustion

Traditional Uses:

Mentha piperita, along with other mints, has a long history of use. In the Mediterranean, it has been used traditionally to treat flatulence, and as a local analgesic for tooth and abdominal pains, inflammatory conditions, headaches, as well as for its antiseptic qualities [7]. 


    Botanical Description

    The Mentha genus, includes more than 20 species [7]. This genus can be found growing all over the world, especially Eurasia, Australia, and Africa. 


    Habitat Ecology, and 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 in order to maintain the highest quality and volume of volatile oils [11]. 


    Constituents:

    [11, 12]

    + 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].

    Constituents

    Chemical class Chemical Name % Dried Weight Solubility
    INSERT INSERT Unknown N/A
    INSERT INSERT Unknown N/A
    INSERT INSERT Unknown N/A
     

    Pharmacology and Medical Research:

     

    Antiallergenic Effects:

    Mentha piperita has been shown in vitro to possess antiallergenic effects [9].

     

    Antimicrobial Effects:

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

    These effects are important moving forward in medicine, as it becomes crucial that we find new and effective 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, suggested that the antinociceptive actions of this plant have no relation to anti-inflammatory effects, and are therefore have a different mechanism of action [7]. some other similar studies however found that an ethanolic extract was able to produce a measurable reduction in systemic inflammation [10].

     

    Antioxidant Effects:

    [3].

     

    Preservative Effects

    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 piperitas antimicrobial [2-6] and antioxidant actions [3], it should be considered as a preservative agent in these sorts of products.

     

    Toxicity

    Contraindicated in GERD as peppermint lowers the tone in the oesophageal sphincter and can exacerbate oesophageal reflux [12]. 

     

    Cautions:

    • 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 chrystalyzed 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

    The Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: July 2017


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    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).