Peppermint - NutraPedia

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Peppermint: Uses, Efficacy, Benefits, and Considerations

1. Conditions Studied for Peppermint

Peppermint has been studied for a variety of conditions, which include:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Indigestion and Gas
  • Tension Headaches and Migraines
  • Muscle and Nerve Pain
  • Common Cold and Cough
  • Dental and Oral Health

2. Efficacy in Treating Conditions

Research has shown varying results for peppermint's efficacy in treating conditions:

  • IBS: Peppermint oil capsules have been found to be effective in relieving IBS symptoms.
  • Indigestion: It may help ease indigestion, but more research is needed.
  • Headaches: Peppermint oil, when applied topically, can reduce the intensity of tension headaches.
  • Muscle Pain: Topical application of peppermint oil may help soothe muscle pain, though more studies are required.
  • Cold Symptoms: Menthol from peppermint may relieve cold symptoms, but it is not a cure for the underlying infection.
  • Dental Health: Peppermint oil has antimicrobial properties that can benefit oral health, but should not replace regular dental care.

3. Health Benefits of Peppermint

Some of the health benefits associated with peppermint include:

  • Relief from digestive issues
  • Analgesic effects for pain management
  • Antimicrobial properties that can improve oral health
  • Relaxation of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Menthol's soothing effect on the throat and chest

4. Potential Downsides of Peppermint

While peppermint is generally considered safe, there are some downsides:

  • Peppermint oil can cause heartburn, allergic reactions, and mouth sores in some individuals.
  • Excessive use of peppermint, especially oil, can be toxic.
  • It may interact with certain medications, such as those for acid reflux or high blood pressure.

5. Peppermint and Genetic Variations

There is limited research on the interaction between peppermint and specific genetic variations. However, some studies suggest:

  • Individuals with a specific genetic variation that affects their ability to metabolize certain drugs may need to use caution with peppermint oil.
  • More research is needed to conclusively determine the relationship between peppermint and genetic variations.

Pharmacological Effects and Metabolism of Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil, primarily composed of menthol, has notable effects on the gastrointestinal tract, serving as an antispasmodic agent that is dose-dependent. It achieves this by influencing calcium movement across cell membranes, which can be particularly beneficial in treating conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Additionally, it exhibits choleretic and antifoaming properties, supporting its use in medicinal applications.

Absorption and Elimination

When ingested, peppermint oil is absorbed quickly and predominantly eliminated via bile. The primary metabolite, menthol glucuronide, undergoes enterohepatic recycling. Menthol's metabolism also includes hydroxylation and the formation of various derivatives, which are then excreted almost equally in feces and urine.

Effectiveness in Inhibiting Calcium Channels

The inhibitory potency of menthol on calcium channels is about twice that of peppermint oil itself, providing a potential explanation for its therapeutic application in conditions like IBS. This antagonism could be a significant factor in the ability of these compounds to relax intestinal smooth muscle.

Monoterpene Accumulation in Peppermint Leaves

Research has found that the accumulation of monoterpenes in peppermint leaves, which serve as plant defenses, is primarily regulated by the rate of biosynthesis. This process peaks during leaf expansion, typically between 12 to 20 days after the emergence of the leaves.

Medical Use in Symptomatic Phases of IBS

A study involving children with IBS showed that after two weeks of treatment with pH-dependent, enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules, a significant reduction in IBS-related pain was reported, suggesting the effectiveness of peppermint oil during symptomatic phases of IBS.

Peppermint Oil as a Treatment

Peppermint oil has been studied for its potential in treating various conditions. It may aid in improving the taste of orally disintegrating tablets (ODTs) containing bitter drugs, ease colonic spasms during medical procedures, and act as a topical treatment for tension headaches. Moreover, it can be used to enhance the absorption of certain drugs through the skin and has implications for smoking cessation due to its effects on nicotine metabolism.


In summary, peppermint oil's diverse pharmacological actions, including its antispasmodic effects and interaction with calcium channels, contribute to its medicinal value, particularly in the treatment of gastrointestinal ailments such as IBS. Moreover, menthol's role in metabolism and potential applications in various therapeutic contexts highlight the importance of ongoing research into peppermint oil's properties and uses.


  1. Pharmacology and preclinical pharmacokinetics of peppermint oil
  2. The actions of peppermint oil and menthol on calcium channel dependent processes in intestinal, neuronal and cardiac preparations
  3. Regulation of monoterpene accumulation in leaves of peppermint
  4. Taste-masking effect of physical and organoleptic methods on peppermint-scented orally disintegrating tablet of famotidine based on suspension spray-coating method
  5. Enteric-coated, pH-dependent peppermint oil capsules for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in children
  6. Menthol-beta-D-glucuronide: a potential prodrug for treatment of the irritable bowel syndrome
  7. A phase I study evaluating tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and preliminary efficacy of L-menthol in upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
  8. Vehicle and enhancer effects on human skin penetration of aminophylline from cream formulations: evaluation in vivo
  9. Peppermint oil
  10. [Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type]
  11. Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters
  12. Inhibition of human liver microsomal (S)-nicotine oxidation by (-)-menthol and analogues
  13. Effect of mint drink on metabolism of nicotine as measured by nicotine to cotinine ratio in urine of Jordanian smoking volunteers
  14. Metabolism and disposition kinetics of nicotine
  15. Evaluation of peppermint oil and ascorbyl palmitate as inhibitors of cytochrome P4503A4 activity in vitro and in vivo
  16. Blood levels of 1,8-cineole and locomotor activity of mice after inhalation and oral administration of rosemary oil
  17. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang
  18. The influence of essential oils on human vigilance
  19. Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot study
  20. Examination of the effectiveness of peppermint aromatherapy on nausea in women post C-section
  21. An investigation into the use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice
  22. Peppermint oil: a treatment for postoperative nausea
  23. Aromatherapy with peppermint, isopropyl alcohol, or placebo is equally effective in relieving postoperative nausea
  24. Contingent negative variation: methods and potential interest in headache
  25. Influence of peppermint oil on absorptive and secretory processes in rat small intestine
  26. Olfaction and muscle activity: an EMG pilot study
  27. Review article: oesophageal spasm - diagnosis and management
  28. Diffuse esophageal spasm. A rare motility disorder not characterized by high-amplitude contractions
  29. Manometric diagnosis of diffuse esophageal spasm
  30. Peppermint oil improves the manometric findings in diffuse esophageal spasm
  31. Oral peppermint oil is a useful antispasmodic for double-contrast barium meal examination
  32. Peppermint oil solution is useful as an antispasmodic drug for esophagogastroduodenoscopy, especially for elderly patients
  33. The Montreal definition and classification of gastroesophageal reflux disease: a global evidence-based consensus
  34. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): a review of conventional and alternative treatments
  35. The mechanism of action of peppermint oil on gastrointestinal smooth muscle. An analysis using patch clamp electrophysiology and isolated tissue pharmacology in rabbit and guinea pig
  36. Early effects of peppermint oil on gastric emptying: a crossover study using a continuous real-time 13C breath test (BreathID system)
  37. Early effects of oral administration of lafutidine with peppermint oil, compared with lafutidine alone, on intragastric pH values
  38. Treating irritable bowel syndrome with peppermint oil
  39. Antiperistaltic effect and safety of L-menthol sprayed on the gastric mucosa for upper GI endoscopy: a phase III, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study
  40. An open-label, single-arm study assessing the efficacy and safety of L: -menthol sprayed onto the gastric mucosa during upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
  41. Multicenter phase II randomized study evaluating dose-response of antiperistaltic effect of L-menthol sprayed onto the gastric mucosa for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
  42. Phytotherapy for functional dyspepsia: a review of the clinical evidence for the herbal preparation STW 5
  43. STW 5, a phytopharmacon for patients with functional dyspepsia: results of a multicenter, placebo-controlled double-blind study
  44. Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a herbal preparation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial
  45. Efficacy of a fixed peppermint oil/caraway oil combination in non-ulcer dyspepsia
  46. Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia
  47. Effects of a fixed combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil on symptoms and quality of life in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia
  48. Effects of peppermint oil and caraway oil on gastroduodenal motility
  49. Effects of intraduodenal application of peppermint oil (WS(R) 1340) and caraway oil (WS(R) 1520) on gastroduodenal motility in healthy volunteers
  50. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants
  51. Relaxant effects on tracheal and ileal smooth muscles of the guinea pig
  52. Pharmacological activity of essential oils on Oddi's sphincter
  53. Proceedings: Further studies on the correlation between biological activity and solubility of some carminatives
  54. Premedication with peppermint oil capsules in colonoscopy: a double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial study
  55. Diagnosis and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
  56. Enteric-coated peppermint-oil capsules in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective, randomized trial
  57. [Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with peppermint oil. A double-blind study with a placebo]
  58. Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial
  59. Efficacy of Peppermint oil in diarrhea predominant IBS - a double blind randomized placebo - controlled study
  60. The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome
  61. Dissolution of gall stones with an ursodeoxycholic acid menthol preparation: a controlled prospective double blind trial
  62. Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism
  63. Effects of peppermint teas on plasma testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone levels and testicular tissue in rats
  64. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial
  65. Sore nipples. A new look at an old problem through the eyes of a dermatologist
  66. A comparison of topical agents to relieve nipple pain and enhance breastfeeding
  67. Effect of peppermint water on prevention of nipple cracks in lactating primiparous women: a randomized controlled trial
  68. A randomized trial of peppermint gel, lanolin ointment, and placebo gel to prevent nipple crack in primiparous breastfeeding women
  69. Continual smoking of mentholated cigarettes may mask the early warning symptoms of respiratory disease
  70. Epidemiology of menthol cigarette use
  71. Mentholated cigarette smoking inhibits nicotine metabolism
  72. Urine menthol as a biomarker of mentholated cigarette smoking
  73. Inhibition of non-haem iron absorption in man by polyphenolic-containing beverages
  74. Short term toxicity study in rats dosed with pulegone and menthol
  75. Mentha piperita (peppermint)

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