Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Commonly used as a flavouring ingredient and beverage tea, peppermint aids in digestive activities due to its active ingredients of menthol and carvone. Considered one of the strongest antibiotic oils tested, peppermint inhibits the growth of bacteria as well as viruses. For this reason, candy made of peppermint contains very few micro-organisms.
Peppermint has long been used as a digestive aid and for the symptomatic treatment of Cough, colds, and fever. Peppermint oil is used for chest congestion and as a local anaesthetic. Recently, the oil has also been used to treat irritable bowel disease, also known as spastic colon.
Typical dosage: peppermint oil, 6-12 drops daily.
For Irritable bowel syndrome, take 0.2 to 0.4 ml 3 times a day. Capsules must be enteric-coated to avoid irritating the stomach.
For inhalation, use 3-4 drops peppermint oil in hot water.
Irritable bowel syndrome:
The German Commission E has approved the use of peppermint oil for the treatment of colicky pain in the digestive tract. However, the scientific evidence remains contradictory (1,2,3,4,5).
Colds and flus:
Peppermint oil is also approved for the relief of mucus congestion in the lungs and sinuses.
There may be evidence that peppermint may help treat Gallstones (6).
Candida yeast infections:
While no evidence exists to support its use for yeast infections, peppermint has been a recommended treatment. There is evidence that demonstrates its ability to inhibit viral and bacterial growth (7,8,9).
Other stated benefits of peppermint include the following: combats gas, increases bile flow, relieves indigestion,
prevents Ulcers, and reduces Inflammation.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS
Peppermint appears to be quite safe when used at normal dosages in healthy adults (10, 11). However, excessive amounts of peppermint oil can be toxic, causing nausea, loss of appetite, heart problems, loss of balance, and other nervous system problems. Excessive use can even cause kidney failure and death.
Some people may be allergic to peppermint. Menthol-containing drugs (including peppermint) can be fatal to infants if applied to the nose. In general, peppermint should be kept away from new-born babies, as it can cause jaundice.
INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Regular use of peppermint may affect the absorption of tetracycline derivatives, oral anticholinergis, phenothiazines, digoxin, isoniazid, phenytoin, and warfarin.
Peppermint may affect the urinary excretion of alkaline drugs, such as amphetamines or quinidine.
Peppermint may interact with analgesics, anaesthetics, chlorprothixene HCl, haloperidol, CNS drugs, and tranquillisers.
Anticholinergics may affect the action of peppermint.
1. Rees WDW, et al. Treating Irritable bowel syndrome with peppermint oil. BMJ ii: 835-836, 1979.
2. Dew MJ, et al. Peppermint oil for the Irritable bowel syndrome: A multicentre trial. Br J Clin Pract 34: 55-57, 1989.
3. Nash P, et al. Peppermint oil does not relieve the pain of Irritable bowel syndrome. Br J Clin Pract 40: 292-293, 1986.
4. Lawson MJ, et al. Failure of enteric-coated peppermint oil in the Irritable bowel syndrome: A randomized double-blind crossover study. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 3: 235-238, 1988.
5. Carling L, et al. Short-term treatment of the Irritable bowel syndrome: A placebo controlled trial of peppermint oil against hyoscyaminme. Opuscula Medica 34: 55-57, 1989.
6. Somerville KW, et al. Stones in the common bile duct: experience with medical dissolution therapy. Postgrad Med J 61: 313-316, 1985.
7. Hermann, E., Jr. & L. Kucera. Antiviral substances in plants of the mint family (labiatae). Peppermint & other mint plants. Proceedings Of The Society For Experimental Biology & Medicine, 124, 874-878, 1967.
8. Pizsolitto, A.C., et. al. Determination of antibacterial activity of essential oils officialized by the Brazilian pharmacopeia, 2nd edition. Rev Fac Farm Odontol. Araraquara, 9(1), 55-61, 1975.
9. Sanyal, A. & K.C. Varma. In vitro antibacterial and antifungal activity of mentha arvensis var. piperascens oil obtained from different sources. Indian J Of Micro, 9(1), 23-24, 1969.
10. Spindler P, et al. Subchronic toxicity study of peppermint oil in rats. Toxicol Lett 62: 215-220, 1992.
11. ESCOP monographs. Fascicule 3: Menthae Piperitae Aetheroleum (peppermint oil). Exeter, UK: European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy, 1997: 1-6.
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