The Latin name for Peppermint is Mentha × piperita. It is actually a cross breed between Water Mint and Spearmint. Peppermint has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It has a pleasant, minty taste and is a popular flavoring for food and drink. It is also used as a fragrance.

Historical Use of Peppermint

The ancient Egyptians, one of the most medically-advanced ancient cultures, cultivated and used peppermint leaves for indigestion. The ancient Romans and Greeks also took peppermint to soothe their stomachs.

The plant was used by Europeans in the 18th Century, especially in Western Europe, and gained popularity for stomach ailments and menstrual disorders. Many of Peppermint’s health and medicinal uses have been verified by scientific trials.

Peppermint Around the World

Peppermint is a perennial plant found in Europe, Asia and North America. Although there are over 25 species of peppermint produced by these areas, the majority of peppermint is produced in the United States of America.

Peppermint Active Ingredients

The main active ingredient in Peppermint is Menthol, which is an organic compound that produces a cooling sensation when applied to the mouth or skin. It also acts as a mild anesthetic (which means a compound creating a reversible loss of sensation).

Peppermint also contains vitamin A and vitamin C as well as various minerals.

Peppermint Health Benefits

Peppermint has a wide variety of health and medicinal uses. It is used to help treat the common cold, to calm inflammations and to soothe digestive problems.

Below we will explore some of the dietary uses and health benefits of Peppermint:

Peppermint for Coughs & Colds

Peppermint is a remedy for the common cold and for coughing symptoms that often accompany a cold. The oil from this plant has a soothing effect for coughing symptoms and can calm certain common cold ailments. It can also help build a stronger immune system and has both antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities.

Liquid Peppermint oil can be inhaled as a vapor. This manner of peppermint use can create an effective at soothing cough and cold symptoms.

Peppermint for Mouth and Sinus Problems

Peppermint has been frequently used as an agent that reduces inflammation of the mouth or throat. Sinus inflammations and infections can be remedied by inhalation of the plant essential oil. Menthol is the main active ingredient in peppermint and is the reason for its ability to help clear congestion and help make breathing easier.

The herb can be taken as a herbal tea to alleviate common respiratory symptoms such as; congestion, coughing and difficulty breathing caused by obstructed or inflamed passages.

Peppermint for Digestive Issues

Peppermint can help with a number of painful digestive problems including; gas, bloating, nausea, morning sickness and stomach cramps. Additionally, it can help ease the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

One study showed that 75% of participants who took a capsule of Peppermint oil daily saw a significant decrease in their IBS symptoms, in comparison with 38% who took a placebo capsule.

Peppermint for Menstrual Symptoms

Painful cramps and nausea caused by a woman’s natural cycle can be eased with the help of peppermint. Peppermint acts as a muscle relaxer and therefore reduces the pain caused by a woman’s cramps. The easiest way to take Peppermint for menstrual symptoms is with a nice, warm peppermint herbal tea.

Peppermint for Pain Relief

Headaches, nerve pain, toothaches, inflammation of the joints, general body aches and muscle pain are all thought to be relieved by the use of peppermint. The main ingredient in peppermint, menthol, creates a cooling sensation when applied to the skin. As a result it can temporarily reduce minor levels of pain associated with athletic injuries, overexertion and muscle pain.

Peppermint oil can be applied topically to the skin, but it should be diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, almond oil, or olive oil, before use. Applying undiluted peppermint oil directly to the skin can cause irritation, burning, or allergic reactions, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.

Peppermint for Headaches

Topical application of Peppermint oil can reduce certain types of minor headaches. Peppermint oil, diluted with another oil, can be applied directly to the forehead or upper sinus areas. In fact, a German study showed Peppermint to have the same power as 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen.

Peppermint Oil for Skin Problems

Peppermint oil, diluted with water, can be used as a wash capable of alleviating skin problems such as rashes and dry skin. Also, it can be used as a hair rinse to soothe both dry and oily scalp. Infections, itchiness, allergic rashes and bacterial infections have all been remedied with peppermint herbal supplements.

Peppermint to Boost Energy

The scent of peppermint is energizing, and inhaling its scent can result in heightened levels of energy. Drinking peppermint tea, as well as using peppermint oil in a diffuser or in a candle, are ways of using peppermint as a stimulant.

How to Use Peppermint

Peppermint can be taken in many ways: The oil can be applied topically to the skin; a tea can be made of the dried and crushed leaves; the oil and/or dried plant material can be ingested in capsule form; peppermint liquid tincture is available; the oil can also be vaporized for inhalation.

Peppermint oil is usually the most potent way to gain the active ingredients and benefits, however lower levels of peppermint, such as those ingested through tea, are still very effective.

Other Applications for Peppermint

There are additional applications for peppermint that are frequently used:

Foods and beverages are flavored with the peppermint extract oil in order to create a distinctive flavoring. Deserts and candies frequently use a peppermint flavoring.

Manufacturers often use the plant extract from the peppermint to produce a popular fragrance for soaps and cosmetics.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers use peppermint plant extract as a flavoring agent for several everyday over the counter medicines and other prescription medicines as it very effective at masking strong, unpleasant tastes.

Peppermint Oil Can Deter Rats

Rats have a strong sense of smell and do not like the potent smell of some aromatherapy oils, including Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Citronella oils. Soak some oil onto cotton wool balls and leave them in the places you think rats may be visiting and this will deter them.

See also our articles on Mint and Spearmint.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Peppermint Herb Notes / Side Effects

Peppermint is generally considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts as a food or herbal supplement. However, excessive intake or sensitivity to certain compounds in peppermint may lead to potential side effects in some individuals.

Some possible side effects of consuming peppermint include:

Peppermint Essential Oil: Essential oils, including peppermint oil, are very concentrated and if not used properly can cause allergic reactions. Consult a professional before using peppermint oil on children under 5 or pregnant or breastfeeding women, especially those with a history of miscarriage. Also, large quantities of peppermint oil could damage the kidneys.

Gastrointestinal Issues: Peppermint oil or extracts may cause heartburn, indigestion, or stomach upset in some individuals, especially when taken in high doses or by those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Allergic Reactions: While rare, some people may be allergic to peppermint or menthol, a compound found in peppermint oil. Allergic reactions may manifest as itching, swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing in severe cases.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Peppermint may relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus and exacerbating symptoms of GERD in some individuals.

Drug Interactions: Peppermint oil supplements may interact with certain medications, such as antacids, medications for acid reflux, or drugs metabolized by the liver. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before taking peppermint supplements, especially if you are on medication.

Skin Irritation: Applying concentrated peppermint oil directly to the skin may cause irritation, burning, or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Diluting peppermint oil with a carrier oil is recommended for topical use.

Respiratory Issues: Inhaling peppermint oil vapor or using products containing peppermint oil may trigger respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or throat irritation in some individuals, particularly those with asthma or respiratory conditions.

Pregnancy Concerns: While peppermint tea is generally considered safe during pregnancy when consumed in moderation, excessive intake of peppermint oil or supplements may potentially trigger uterine contractions and should be avoided, especially in high doses.

Overall, while peppermint offers various health benefits and is widely used as a culinary herb and natural remedy, individuals should be mindful of their tolerance and consumption levels to avoid potential side effects. If you experience persistent or severe symptoms after consuming peppermint, it is recommended to seek medical advice.



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