Peppermint is a plant in the mint family. The leaf and oil are used as medicine.
Peppermint is used for the common cold, cough, inflammation of the mouth and throat, sinus infections, and other respiratory infections. It is also used for digestive problems including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cramps of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and bile ducts, diarrhea, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, and gas.
Some people also use peppermint for menstrual problems, preventing spasms during endoscopy procedures, fevers, headaches, to reduce stomach bloating after surgery, and as a stimulant.
Peppermint oil is applied to the skin for headache, muscle pain, nerve pain, toothache, inflammation of the mouth, joint conditions, bad breath, menopausal symptoms, hot flashes during treatment for breast cancer, itchiness of the skin during pregnancy, hives, for repelling mosquitoes, for reducing plaque, and for reducing nipple discomfort during breastfeeding.
People use peppermint oil rectally to relax the colon during barium enemas.
Some people inhale peppermint oil for treating symptoms of cough and colds, as a painkiller, to improve mental function, and to reduce stress.
In foods and beverages, peppermint is a common flavoring agent.
In manufacturing, peppermint oil is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics, and as a flavoring agent in pharmaceuticals.
In 1990, the FDA banned the sale of peppermint oil as an over-the-counter drug for use as a digestive aid because its effectiveness had not been proven. Today, peppermint is sold as a dietary supplement. Unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements do not have to be proven effective to the satisfaction of the FDA in order to be marketed. Also, unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements are not allowed to claim that they prevent or treat illness.
How it works
Peppermint oil seems to reduce spasms in the digestive tract. When applied to the skin, it can cause surface warmth, which relieves pain beneath the skin.
Likely EffectiveIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Although some older studies suggest that peppermint oil does not affect IBS, most research shows that taking peppermint oil by mouth reduces stomach pain, bloating, gas, and bowel movements in people with IBS. Most trials have used specific peppermint oil products (Colpermin by Tillotts Pharma; Mintoil by Cadigroup).
Peppermint and peppermint oil are LIKELY SAFE when by mouth, applied to the skin, or used rectally
The peppermint leaf is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth short-term. The safety of using peppermint leaf longer than 8-weeks is unknown.Peppermint can cause some side effects including heartburn, and allergic reactions including flushing, headache, and mouth sores.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It isLIKELY SAFEto take peppermint in amounts normally found infoodduring pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, not enough is known about the safety of taking larger amounts used for medicine. It's best not to take these larger amounts if you arepregnantor breast-feeding.Are there any interactions with medications?
Children and infants: Peppermint is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. Peppermint oil, when taken by mouth in pills with a special (enteric) coating to prevent contact with the stomach, is POSSIBLY SAFE for children 8 years of age and older.
A stomach condition in which the stomach is not producing hydrochloric acid (achlorhydria): Don't use enteric-coated peppermint oil if you have this condition. The enteric coating might dissolve too early in the digestive process.
Diarrhea: Enteric-coated peppermint oil could cause anal burning, if you have diarrhea.
ModerateCyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
The body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) to get rid of it. Peppermint oil might decrease how quickly the body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). Taking peppermint oil products along with cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might increase the risk of side effects for cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune).