Peppermint herb and oil health benefit, for gastrointestinal soothing - Ray Sahelian, M.D.
January 20 2016

 

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is one of the most widely consumed single ingredient herbal teas. Peppermint tea, brewed from the plant leaves, and the essential oil of peppermint are used in traditional medicines. This herb acts as an anti-spasmodic, relaxes smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.

 

What's in peppermint?
The phenolic constituents of the peppermint leaves include rosmarinic acid and several flavonoids, primarily eriocitrin, luteolin and hesperidin. The main volatile components of the essential oil are menthol and menthone. In vitro, peppermint has significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities, strong antioxidant and antitumor actions, and some antiallergenic potential.

 

Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2012. Volatile composition of peppermint (Mentha piperita) commercial teas through solid phase extraction. The major volatiles were terpenes (275-382 microg kg(-1)) that reached 89 % of the total composition. A total of 16 compounds, among them dodecane, acetoin, acetol, citral, geraniol and octanoic acid have been described by the first time in peppermint tea. These findings could be attributed to the different analytical approach employed, mainly to the use of different extraction/pre-concentration techniques. Given the apparently lower proportion of terpenes in the aqueous extract it may be that the chemical properties of the peppermint essential oil are not entirely reproduced with homemade tea.

 

Phenolic acids (e.g. rosmarinic and caffeic acids), flavones (e.g. luteolin derivatives) and flavanones (e.g. eriocitrin derivatives) are possibly the major infusion antioxidants. Vitamin antioxidants (e.g. ascorbic acid and carotenoids) are minor contributors to the overall antioxidant potential. Unsaturated terpenes having a cyclohexadiene structure (e.g. terpinene) and minor cyclic oxygenated terpenes (e.g. thymol), may contribute to antioxidant potential whilst acyclic unsaturated oxygenated monoterpenes (e.g. linalool) may act as pro-oxidants in essential oil.

 

Benefit of Peppermint

Animal model studies demonstrate a relaxation effect on gastrointestinal (GI) tissue, analgesic and anesthetic effects in the central and peripheral nervous system, immunomodulating actions and chemopreventive potential. Human studies examining the effects of peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms have been conducted. However, human studies of peppermint leaf are limited and clinical trials of peppermint tea are absent.

 

Peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain-sensing fibers, particularly those activated by mustard and chilil

 

Athletics
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran. Enhancing athletic performance is a great desire among the athletes, coaches and researchers. Mint is one of the most famous natural herbs used for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antioxidant, and vasoconstrictor effects. Even though inhaling mint aroma in athletes has been investigated, there were no significant effects on the exercise performance. Twelve healthy male students every day consumed one 500 ml bottle of mineral water, containing 0.05 ml peppermint essential oil for ten days. Blood pressure, heart rate, and spirometry parameters including forced vital capacity (FVC), peak expiratory flow rate (PEF), and peak inspiratory flow (PIF) were determined one day before, and after the supplementation period. Participants underwent a treadmill-based exercise test with metabolic gas analysis and ventilation measurement using the Bruce protocol.

 

Availability
This herb is sold as a pill in various dosages including 0.05 grams per pill and can be taken up to 3 capsules 3 times a day.

 

Side effects
Some claim it produces perianal burning on high dosages. Significant adverse reactions to peppermint tea have not been reported.