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Home / All About Herbs / About Peppermint Monograph


© 2018 Steven Foster

A peppermint monograph for the home

Latin Name: Mentha piperita

Common Names: peppermint, peppermint oil

This peppermint monograph provides basic information about peppermint and peppermint oil—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Peppermint Basics

  • The herb peppermint, a natural cross between two types of mint (water mint and spearmint), grows throughout Europe and North America. Both peppermint leaves and the essential oil from peppermint have been used for health purposes. (Essential oils are very concentrated oils containing substances that give a plant its characteristic odor or flavor.) Peppermint is a common flavoring agent in foods, and peppermint oil is used to create a pleasant fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
  • Mint has been used for health purposes for several thousand years. It is mentioned in records from ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. However, peppermint was not recognized as a distinct kind of mint until the 1700s.
  • Today, peppermint is used as a dietary supplement for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), other digestive problems, the common cold, headaches, and other conditions. Peppermint oil is also used topically (applied to the skin) for headache, muscle aches, itching, and other problems. Peppermint leaf is available in teas, capsules, and as a liquid extract. Peppermint oil is available as liquid solutions and in capsules, including enteric-coated capsules.

Peppermint in Health Research

  • A small amount of research has been conducted on peppermint oil, primarily focusing on IBS.
  • Very little research has been done on peppermint leaf.

Peppermint Research Summary

  • Peppermint oil has been studied most extensively for IBS. Results from several studies indicate that peppermint oil in enteric-coated capsules may improve IBS symptoms.
  • A few studies have indicated that peppermint oil, in combination with caraway oil, may help relieve indigestion, but this evidence is preliminary and the product that was tested is not available in the United States.
  • Peppermint oil has been used topically for tension headaches and a limited amount of evidence suggests that it might be helpful for this purpose.
  • There’s not enough evidence to allow any conclusions to be reached about whether peppermint oil is helpful for nausea, the common cold, or other conditions.
  • There’s not enough evidence to show whether peppermint leaf is helpful for any condition.

Peppermint Safety

  • Peppermint oil appears to be safe when taken orally (by mouth) in the doses commonly used. Excessive doses of peppermint oil can be toxic.
  • Possible side effects of peppermint oil include allergic reactions and heartburn. Capsules containing peppermint oil are often enteric-coated to reduce the likelihood of heartburn. If enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules are taken at the same time as antacids, the coating can break down too quickly.
  • Like other essential oils, peppermint oil is highly concentrated. When the undiluted essential oil is used for health purposes, only a few drops are used.
  • Side effects of applying peppermint oil to the skin can include skin rashes and irritation. Peppermint oil should not be applied to the face or chest of infants or young children because serious side effects may occur if they inhale the menthol in the oil.
  • No harmful effects of peppermint leaf tea have been reported. However, the long-term safety of consuming large amounts of peppermint leaf is unknown.

Peppermint References


PubMed Articles About Mentha x piperita

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from:

Kennedy, D., Okello, E., Chazot, P., Howes, MJ., Ohiomokhare, S., Jackson, P., Haskell-Ramsay, C., Khan, J., Forster, J., Wightman, E., (2018) Volatile Terpenes and Brain Function: Investigation of the Cognitive and Mood Effects of Mentha × Piperita L. Essential Oil with In Vitro Properties Relevant to Central Nervous System Function.

Extracts of several members of the monoterpene-rich Lamiaceae sub-family Nepetoideae, including those from the (sage), () and (rosemary) genera, evince cognitive and mood effects in humans that are potentially related to their effects on cholinergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. To date, despite promising in vitro properties, the cognitive and mood effects of the closely related (spearmint) and (peppermint) remain unexplored. This study therefore assessed the human cognitive/mood effects of the essential oil with the most promising, brain-relevant in vitro properties according to pre-trial in vitro screening. Organic spearmint and peppermint () essential oils were pre-screened for neurotransmitter receptor binding and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, balanced cross-over study, 24 participants (mean age 25.2 years) consumed single doses of encapsulated placebo and 50 µl and 100 µl of the most promising essential oil (peppermint with nicotinic/GABAA receptor binding and AChE inhibitory properties, that increased calcium influx in a CAD cell neuronal model). Psychological functioning was assessed with mood scales and a range of standardised, cognitively demanding tasks pre-dose and at 1, 3 and 6 h post-dose. The highest (100 µL) dose of essential oil improved performance on the cognitively demanding Rapid Visual Information Processing task (RVIP) at 1 h and 3 h post-dose and both doses attenuated fatigue and improved performance of the Serial 3 s subtraction task at 3 h post-dose. Peppermint () essential oil with high levels of menthol/menthone and characteristic in vitro cholinergic inhibitory, calcium regulatory and GABA/nicotinic receptor binding properties, beneficially modulated performance on demanding cognitive tasks and attenuated the increase in mental fatigue associated with extended cognitive task performance in healthy adults. Future investigations should consider investigating higher doses.

Tavakoli Ardakani, M., Ghassemi, S., Mehdizadeh, M., Mojab, F., Salamzadeh, J., Ghassemi, S., Hajifathali, A., (2017) Evaluating the effect of Matricaria recutita and Mentha piperita herbal mouthwash on management of oral mucositis in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial.

To investigate the effects of Matricaria recutita and Mentha piperita on oral mucositis (OM) in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).

Ross, SM., (2021) Aloe vera-Peppermint Gel (Veramin): An Effective Treatment for Mouth Dryness Among ICU Patients.

Babamohamadi, H., Ansari, Z., Nobahar, M., Mirmohammadkhani, M., (2020) The effects of peppermint gel on prevention of pressure injury in hospitalized patients with head trauma in neurosurgical ICU: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.

This study aimed to evaluate the effect of peppermint gel on the prevention of pressure injuries in patients with head trauma admitted to neurosurgical intensive care units.

Maghami, M., Afazel, MR., Azizi-Fini, I., Maghami, M., (2020) The effect of aromatherapy with peppermint essential oil on nausea and vomiting after cardiac surgery: A randomized clinical trial.

Background Postoperative nausea and vomiting are common in patients who underwent cardiac surgery. This study aimed to examine the effect of peppermint essential oil inhalation on the postoperative nausea and vomiting after cardiac surgery. Methods In this clinical trial study, 60 cardiac surgery patients were divided into control and intervention groups. The intervention group underwent nebulizer aromatherapy with peppermint essential oil before the endotracheal tube was removed after surgery. Patients' nausea and vomiting were then assessed through a checklist. The independent-samples t-test, chi-square, and Generalized estimating equation were used for data analysis. Results Totally 85.7% of the patients undergone coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The two groups did not significantly differ in terms of their baseline demographic and clinical variables (P > 0.05). Significant differences were found between the intervention and control groups in terms of the frequency of nausea (0.63 ± 0.81 vs. 1.46 ± 1.21), its duration (3.78 ± 5.09 vs. 7.97 ± 5.55 min), and severity (2.43 ± 2.84 vs. 4.61 ± 2.85), and in the frequency of vomiting episodes (0.17 ±.46 vs. 0.73 ±.60) in the first four hours after extubation (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Peppermint essential oil inhalation has beneficial effects on reducing nausea and vomiting after open-heart surgery. Using peppermint essential oil inhalation for managing postoperative nausea and vomiting is recommended.