Part Used: Dried leaf, & essential oil of fresh plant
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a flowering plant that grows throughout Europe and North America. It is a perennial herb up to 60cm tall, with smooth leaves which are often purplish, and purple labiate flowers. Peppermint is widely cultivated for its fragrant oil and has been used historically for numerous health conditions, including common cold symptoms, cramps, headache, indigestion, joint pain, and nausea. Peppermint leaf has been used for stomach/intestinal disorders and for gallbladder disease. It has medicinal properties like spasmolytic, carminative, choleretic, diaphoretic, aromatic, nervine, antemetic, peripheral vasodilator with a paradoxical cooling effect, cholagogue, bitter. Locally, it is antiseptic, antiparasitic, analgesic and antipruritic. Recent research on Peppermint has examined its essential oil rather than the leaf Peppermint oil, which comprises about 0.3 to 0.4 percent of the leaf's weight, has been shown to be antibacterial and antiviral, and it reduces muscle spasms. The primary component is Menthol at 30-48 percent of the oil.
Peppermint is an excellent carminative, having a relaxing effect on the muscles of the digestive system, combats flatulence and stimulates bile and digestive juice flow. It is used to relieve intestinal colic, flatulent dyspepsia and associated conditions. The volatile oil acts as a mild anesthetic to the stomach wall, which allays feelings of nausea and the desire to vomit. It relieves the nausea & vomiting of pregnancy and travel sickness. It is specifically indicated in flatulent digestive pains. It has a notable action on the lower bowel. Externally, Peppermint oil or menthol is used in pain-relieving balms, massage oils and linaments. Menthol is cooling and anaesthetic when applied to the skin, increasing blood flow to the area over which it is applied. It may be used to relieve itching and inflammations. Inhalations of the herb and oil in boiling water are effective against upper respiratory or bronchial catarrh. It has a drying effect on the mucous membranes when inhaled and ingested it has a settling effect on the gastric and intestinal mucosa. It is a useful remedy to increase concentration. It reduces nausea and is helpful in travel sickness. It promotes sweating in fevers and influenza. As a nervine it acts as a tonic, easing anxiety, tension and hysteria. In dysmenorrhoea it relieves the pain and associated tension.
Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-peppermint.html
Holistic Online. http://www.holisticonline.com/Herbal-Med/_Herbs/h280.htm
Purple Sage Botanicals. http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/peppermint.htm