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Mentha × piperita

What is Peppermint?

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) is an aromatic herb in the mint family that is a cross between watermint and spearmint. Menthol gives peppermint its cooling properties and unique astringent effect and aroma. Peppermint tea is a wonderful naturally caffeine free option. Peppermint extracts have been studied scientifically more extensively than the peppermint tea products or peppermint leaves themselves.

What are the benefits of peppermint?

Aid digestion

One of the most popular uses for peppermint includes the relief of digestive complaints such as gas, bloating and cramps. This is because peppermint prevents smooth muscles in the intestines from contracting, which could relieve spasms in the gut [i] [ii] .

This effect has been proposed to help common conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. A review of nine studies in 926 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) provided with peppermint oil for at least two weeks, concluded that peppermint provided significantly better symptom relief than a placebo [iii]. In one particular study in 72 participants with IBS, peppermint oil capsules reduced IBS symptoms by 40% after four weeks, compared to only 24.3% with a placebo [iv]. Similarly, capsules containing peppermint oil reduced incidence and severity of nausea and vomiting in 200 people undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer [v].

Skin health

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. Research shows that applying peppermint oil in gel, cream, or water to the skin reduces cracked skin and pain in the nipple area when breastfeeding. In the same way, it may also be useful for bed sores when applied to skin [vi].

Migraines and headache

Peppermint has been found to have pain relieving qualities. In one clinical study in 35 people with migraines, peppermint oil applied to the forehead and temples significantly reduced pain after only two hours, compared to placebo [vii]. Another study in 120 adults found that nasal application of peppermint oil caused considerable reduction in the intensity and frequency of headache and relieved majority of patients' pain similar to lidocaine (conventional treatment) [viii]. Applying diluted peppermint oil to the temple area may also be an effective natural remedy.

Fresh breath

Peppermint is very famous for its uses in products such as breath mints, toothpastes and mouthwashes. This is due to its antibacterial action which leads to fresher breath [ix]. To this effect, clinical trails in people have been conclusive [x] [xi].


Peppermint has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, peppermint tea may fight clogged sinuses due to infections, the common cold and allergies [xii]. Inhalation of peppermint improves the perception of airflow in the sinuses, however evidence of actual increased airflow due to peppermint oil inhalation has not been conclusive.


Peppermint oil capsules and aromatherapy have been shown to improve fatigue and drowsiness during the day [xiii] [xiv].

Seasonal allergies

Peppermint contains rosmarinic acid, a plant compound found in rosemary and plants in the mint family. This compiled has been found to reduce symptoms of allergic reactions, such as runny nose, itchy eyes and asthma [xv]. This effect has been documented in clinical trials [xvi].

Improve alertness and concentration

Studies have been completed regarding the use of peppermint oil and cognitive responses. In one study, 24 young and healthy adults performed significantly better on cognitive tests when they were given peppermint oil capsules [xvii]. Similarly, peppermint oil aromatherapy was found to improve memory and alertness, compared to ylang-ylang, another popular essential oil [xviii].

Menstrual cramps

A study on 127 women experiencing painful cramping during menstruation found peppermint capsules to be as effective as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug in reducing the intensity and duration of the pain.

Recommended For

Fatigue/ Exhaustion , Brain Health , Migraine , Allergies (Respiratory)

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