Peppermint
Peppermint

Background

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a plant in the mint family. It's a natural hybrid of spearmint and wild mint. The leaf and oil are used as medicine.

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. It may also help to "cool" the skin and relieve itching.

People use peppermint for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is also used for indigestion, bed sores, tension headache, anxiety, insomnia, memory, and many other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Don't confuse peppermint with other mint plants, such as English Horsemint, Japanese Mint, Perilla, Salvia divinorum, Spearmint, and Wild Mint. These are different plants.
When taken by mouth: Peppermint oil is likely safe. Peppermint leaf is possibly safe when taken for up to 8 weeks. It's not clear if peppermint leaf is safe to use for longer than 8 weeks. Peppermint can cause some side effects including heartburn, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting.

When applied to the skin: Peppermint oil is likely safe.

When given as an enema (rectally): Peppermint oil is likely safe.

When inhaled: Peppermint oil is possibly safe when used as part of aromatherapy.

When applied into the nose: There isn't enough reliable information to know if peppermint oil is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Peppermint is commonly consumed in foods. There isn't enough reliable information to know if peppermint is safe to use in larger amounts while pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Children: Peppermint is commonly consumed in foods. Peppermint oil is possibly safe in children 8 years of age and older when taken by mouth in pills with a special (enteric) coating to prevent contact with the stomach.

Diarrhea: Taking peppermint oil could cause burning with diarrhea.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
  • A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Taking peppermint oil by mouth reduces stomach pain, bloating, gas, and bowel movements in people with IBS.
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Relaxing the colon during a barium enema examination. Using peppermint oil as an ingredient in enemas seems to relax the colon during barium enema exams. Also, taking peppermint oil by mouth before the start of a barium enema seems to decrease spasms.
  • Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment. Taking peppermint extract by mouth and inhaling peppermint oil seems to reduce nausea and vomiting after cancer drug treatment.
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia). Taking peppermint together with caraway by mouth seems to improve symptoms of indigestion. It's not clear if taking peppermint alone helps.
  • Side effects caused by a certain procedure (endoscopy) used to view the inside of the body. Using peppermint oil can reduce spasms and pain in people having this procedure. Peppermint oil sprayed into the intestine by the doctor seems to work best. It's not clear if taking peppermint oil by mouth helps.
  • Cracked nipples. Applying peppermint oil in gel, cream, or water to the skin reduces cracked skin and pain in the nipple area when breastfeeding.
  • Bed sores (pressure ulcers). Applying a gel containing peppermint oil can prevent bed sores.
  • Tension headache. Applying peppermint oil to the skin seems to help relieve tension headaches.
There is interest in using peppermint for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Peppermint oil has most often been used by adults in doses of 270-1350 mg by mouth daily for up to 4 weeks. Peppermint oil is also used in gels, creams, rinses, oils, and as part of aromatherapy. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Peppermint oil might decrease how quickly the body breaks down cyclosporine. Taking peppermint oil products along with cyclosporine might increase the effects and side effects of cyclosporine.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Peppermint might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Peppermint might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Peppermint might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Peppermint might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Iron: Taking peppermint at the same time as iron may reduce the absorption of iron by the body.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 31/07/2023 10:00:00 and last updated on 03/12/2020 03:01:59. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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