Latin Name – Mentha x piperita
Peppermint, a cross between water mint and spearmint, grows throughout Europe and North America. The leaves are powerfully aromatic, with a strong mint fragrance. Peppermint is often used to flavor foods, beverages, and other products. Their leaves are used fresh or dried to make peppermint tea.
Traditionally, peppermint oil has been used as an herbal remedy for a variety of health conditions, including nausea, indigestion, and cold symptoms. Peppermint oil has also been used as an herbal remedy in the hope of improving symptoms such as headaches, muscle and nerve pain, and stomach and bowel problems.
Essential oil of peppermint can be taken in very small doses in capsule or liquid forms. The essential oil can also be diluted with another oil and applied to the skin.
Results from several research studies suggest that peppermint oil may improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. A few studies have found that peppermint oil, in combination with caraway oil, may help relieve indigestion, but this evidence is preliminary.
Although there are some promising results, there is no clear-cut evidence to support the use of peppermint oil for other health conditions.
Side Effects and Cautions Summary
- Possible side effects of peppermint oil include allergic reactions and heartburn.
- Capsules containing peppermint oil are often coated to reduce the likelihood of heartburn. If they are taken at the same time as medicines such as antacids, this coating can break down more quickly and increase the risk of heartburn and nausea.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- Peppermint. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on December 28, 2006.
- Peppermint oil (Mentha x piperita L.). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on December 28, 2006.
- Peppermint. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:297–303.
For More Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
NIH National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Peppermint Oil Listing: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-peppermint.html
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Peppermint Oil fact sheet, Created March 2007, Updated June 2008