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Peppermint is a medicinal and edible herb with the scientific name Mentha piperita. According to The Cook’s Thesaurus, extracts are flavoring agents made by dissolving a flavored compound in alcohol 1. Since peppermint extract is made directly from peppermint leaves, it has many of the same properties and applications as the raw herb 1. The primary chemical in peppermint extract responsible for its medicinal properties and flavors is menthol, an organic alcohol 1.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends peppermint for indigestion, saying, “peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats.” It also suggests that peppermint can allow gas to pass through the intestine, which helps to relieve gas cramping, and that sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome may get relief from peppermint extract 12.
Peppermint for a Sore Throat
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that there is evidence that peppermint extract oils can be used to relieve headache if applied to the temples 1. It further states that “menthol … is sometimes included in inhaled preparations for nasal congestion, including ‘rubs’ that are applied to the skin and inhaled.” Peppermint extract, therefore, may be useful in clearing the sinuses 1.
Topically, peppermint extract is an analgesic and can relieve skin conditions, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 12. It soothes skin irritations from hives, poison ivy and poison oak. Much of this effect is due to the numbing properties of peppermint extract’s primary ingredient, menthol 1.
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- Cook's Thesaurus: Peppermint Extract
- University of Maryland: Peppermint
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Peppermint Oil. Updated September 2016.
- Khanna R, Macdonald JK, Levesque BG. Peppermint Oil for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014;48(6):505-512. doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182a88357
- Shavakhi A, Ardestani SK, Taki M, Goli M, Keshteli AH. Premedication With Peppermint Oil Capsules in Colonoscopy: A Double Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Trial Study. Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2012;75(3):349-353.
- May B, Köhler S, Schneider B. Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000;14(12):1671-1677. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2036.2000.00873.x
- Borhani Haghighi A, Motazedian S, Rezaii R, et al. Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossed-over study. Int J Clin Pract. 2010;64(4):451-456. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02215.x
- Göbel H, Fresenius J, Heinze A, Dworschak M, Soyka D. [Effectiveness of Oleum Menthae Piperitae and Paracetamol in Therapy of Headache of the Tension Type]. Nervenarzt. 1996;67(8):672-681. doi:10.1007/s001150050040
- Thosar N, Basak S, Bahadure RN, Rajurkar M. Antimicrobial efficacy of five essential oils against oral pathogens: An in vitro study. Eur J Dent. 2013;7(Suppl 1):S71-77. doi:10.4103/1305-7456.119078
- Meamarbashi A. Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014;4(1):72-78.
- Masoumi SZ, Asl HR, Poorolajal J, Panah MH, Oliaei SR. Evaluation of mint efficacy regarding dysmenorrhea in comparison with mefenamic acid: A double blinded randomized crossover study. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(4):363-367. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.185574
- Mount Sinai. Peppermint oil overdose.
Kirstin Hendrickson is a writer, teacher, coach, athlete and author of the textbook "Chemistry In The World." She's been teaching and writing about health, wellness and nutrition for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in zoology, a Bachelor of Science in psychology, a Master of Science in chemistry and a doctoral degree in bioorganic chemistry.