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Peppermint is a wintertime standard that reminds many of the winter holiday season because of the delicious holiday treats such as candy canes and peppermint bark 1. However, peppermint is used for more than just holiday candy 1. It has been used for centuries by different cultures for its medicinal and culinary properties by ancient civilizations and modern societies alike. Two main versions of peppermint, peppermint oil and peppermint extract contain similar properties and are used for similar purposes 1.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita L.)
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), peppermint is an herb that is a hybrid of water mint and spearmint 1. Peppermint leaves have been used for gastrointestinal disorders and other medicinal purposes 1. The whole leaf of the peppermint herb has been used as a flavoring for food and beverages as well as a garnishment for dishes 1.
Tiger Balm Ingredients
Peppermint oil is obtained via steam distillation from fresh peppermint leaves 1. Peppermint oil can be used in food as a flavoring or taken in capsule form to treat specific medical conditions 1. Peppermint oil naturally contains menthol, menthone and menthyl esters, and thus was found suitable for use in such products as toothpaste, chewing gum, cigarettes and shampoo 1. Peppermint is an essential oil, and as such it is potent, so only a small amount of oil is needed for many uses 1.
Peppermint extract is the less potent derivative from the peppermint herb 1. It is extracted from peppermint oil via alcohol distillation and is less potent than its parent oil 1. The extract is mostly used in cooking to add a minty flavor to foods. A favorite during the winter season, peppermint extract is used to make baked goods and candies 1. As with peppermint oil, peppermint extract is also used in beauty products such as soaps and shampoos for its aromatic properties 1. Many people find the smell of peppermint pleasing and relaxing 1.
What Are the Health Benefits of Absinthe?
Both peppermint oil and peppermint extract are used for medicinal purposes 1. The menthol found in both the oil and extract is attributed to giving peppermint oil and peppermint extract their medicinal properties of reducing itching, inflammation and to sooth sore throat irritation 1. Peppermint oil has strong scientific evidence to support its use in treating coughs, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome and tension headaches as well as being an antispasmodic for the colon, esophagus and intestines 1.
Peppermint oil is four times as potent as peppermint extract and should only be used in small amounts 1. It is the low potency of peppermint extract that makes it more widely used for cooking 1. Peppermint oil is safe in small doses, however, allergic reactions, rashes, mouth sores, chemical burns, eye irritation and lung injury have been associated with peppermint oil use 1. Menthol, which is found in both the oil and extract, may be deadly and can possibly cause brain, skin and kidney damage. If inhaled, menthol can cause adverse reactions such as confusion, dizziness, nausea and muscle weakness.
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- Peppermint Oil
- 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.
ShawnTe Pierce is a fashion designer and writer with more than 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on Woman's Day and The Frisky, among other online publications. Pierce has a Bachelor of Science in apparel design from the University of Delaware.