Peppermint essential oil: Health benefits and Side effects

Introduction

Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) is obtained by steam distillation from the fresh or dried stem, leaves, and flowers of the plant. This oil is a hybrid of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica), belonging to the family Lamiaceae and sold as a dietary supplement.

It is a colorless or pale yellow liquid with a fresh sharp menthol smell. Having a watery viscosity and a pungent taste; followed by a cooling sensation. Peppermint oil is commonly available as liquid solutions and in capsules, including enteric-coated capsules.

Uses of Peppermint essential oil

The oil is currently used in cosmeceuticals, personal hygiene products, foods, and skin conditioning agents and pharmaceutical products for both its flavoring and fragrance properties. Besides this, the oil is also used in aromatherapy, mouthwashes, breath fresheners, toothpaste, chewing gums, dental floss, teas confections, bath preparations, lozenges, pain balms, cold balms.

Geographical Distribution

Peppermint essential oil is a native herb of Mediterranean Europe and widely used in many parts of the world like the northern USA and Canada.

Common name

Mentha oil, Mentha piperita oil, and Peppermint oil.

History

Peppermint essential oil is used from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome they were used as stomach soothers.

Constituents of Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil contains more than 30 known components, composed primarily of menthol and menthone. Other possible constituents are as follows (1)

Components Percentage
Menthol 33–60 %
Menthone 14– 32 %
limonene 1.0-5.0 %
cineole 3.5-14.0%
menthofuran 1.0 -9.0 %
isomenthone 1.5- 10.0%
menthyl acetate 2.8-10.0 %
isopulegol 0.2 %
menthol 55.0 %
pulegone 4.0 %
carvone 1.0 %
1,8-cineole(eucalyptol) 5–13 %
β-myrcene 0.1–1.7 %

Health benefits of Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint oil has a variety of therapeutic properties such as neuralgia, myalgia, headaches, migraines and chickenpox, mentally stimulative, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder and biliary tract disorders, and liver complaints

1. Enhance athletic performance

Intake of peppermint essential oil (0.05 ml or 50 µl) for ten days increases exhaustion time, work and power by relaxation of bronchial smooth muscles. It improves the ventilation and brain oxygen concentration, and a decrease in the blood lactate level (2). Thus this oil act as a stimulant on the central nervous system and improves exercise performance, respiratory function, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory gas exchange (3).

2. Peppermint oil as a mood elevator

Peppermint essential oil due to its active components possesses psychoactive actions, reduces fatigue thus treat nervous disorders (4).

3. Treat tension headaches

Peppermint essential oil raises the pain threshold and has muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effects. Therefore this oil is useful to treat headaches (5). A combination of peppermint oil (10 g), eucalyptus oil (5 g) and ethanol (90%) increase cognitive performance and show the analgesic effect. Peppermint oil and ethanol helps in the reduction of sensitivity to headache (6). The topical application of peppermint oil can also relieve joint pain, menstrual cramps (7).

4. Treat Nausea and vomiting

Peppermint essential oil (10 %) aromatherapy show a wonderful effect on the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and postoperative cardiac surgery patients because it maintains mental relaxation.

Inhalation of this essential oil can be used to reduce fever, relieve nausea and vomiting, and improve digestion (8).

5. Treat chronic pruritus

Chronic pruritus is a type of dermatologic diseases such as atopic eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus, and scabies. However, peppermint oil (0.5 %) with sesame oil in twice daily for 2 weeks show positive effect on the treatment of chronic pruritus as this oil contains menthol which possesses cooling effect and decreases itching on skin thus alleviate the sensation of itch,  effective, easy to use, safe, cheap, has favorable odor with fewer side effects (9).

6. Anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties

Peppermint essential oil enteric-coated capsules contain a good amount of terpenes known as L-menthol. It is used in the treatment of chronic inflammatory disorders such as respiratory congestion, bronchial asthma, colitis, and allergic rhinitis.

Peppermint oil-infused tea is helpful for the treatment of coughs, bronchitis, and inflammation of the oral mucosa and throat. It also contains various antioxidants that prevent auto-oxidation of sunflower oil (10).

7. Treat prostate cancer

Menthol obtained from peppermint essential oil is beneficial to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (11).

8. Protect from sun

Peppermint essential oil SPF value is higher than any other oil like lavender oil, orange oil, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil and rose oil which protect the skin against the drying effects of exposure to wind and sun. Therefore this oil is helpful to use as perfumes during the formulation of sunscreens (12).

9. Healthy skin

Peppermint essential oil is very beneficial to protect the skin from diseases like Acne, antiseptic, blackheads, chickenpox, congested and greasy conditions, dermatitis, inflammation, pruritus, ringworm, scabies, softener, toner, and sunburn. This oil is organic, low molecular weight and easily absorbed and do not accumulate in the body (13)

10. Antimicrobial properties of Peppermint essential oil

It contains antimicrobial compounds like 1,8-Cineol, menthone, and menthol which protect against different bacteria like Staphylococcus epidermidis, Enterococcus faecalis, Propionibacterium acnes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosaa and Streptococcus pyogenes. This oil also exhibited strong antifungal activities against different fungi such as Candida albicans, C. glabrata, C. tropicalis, C. krusei,  C. dubliniensis, C. parapsilosis , Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T. rubrum, T. tonsurans, Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1/HSV-2), Microsporum canis, Epidermophyton floccosum, Aspergillus flavus A. fumigates, A. oryzae and A. clavatus (14).

11. Treat Colic and irritable bowel syndrome

Peppermint essential oil (liquid drops; 1 drop per Kg body weight) daily for 7 days act as an antispasmodic agent that decreases the frequency and duration of infantile colic. Moreover, a mixture of peppermint oil and caraway oil is also useful for the treatment of non-ulcer dyspepsia (15).

12. Peppermint essential oil reduces painful muscle spasms

Patients undergoing endoscopy of the upper and lower GI tract as well as in people subjected to barium enema can use this oil. As it has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, relatively rapidly absorbed after oral administration and eliminated mainly via the bile, urine, feces, perspiration, and respiration (16, 17).

13. Promote hair growth

Application of peppermint oil (3 %) for 4 weeks shows prominent hair growth effects by an increase in dermal thickness, follicle number, and follicle depth without change of body weight gain and food efficiency. Therefore, this oil may use as a therapeutic or preventive alternative medicine for hair loss in humans (18).

Side effect of Peppermint essential oil

1. Peppermint oil should be used as per the recommended dose

Although this oil is safe and well-tolerated in the recommended dosage, it can be toxic and even lethal at excessive dosages (19).

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, peppermint oil is generally recognized as safe however sensitivity to both peppermint oil and menthol has been reported in patients with perioral dermatitis, stomatitis, burning mouth syndrome (BMS), recurrent oral ulcers (ROUs), and oral lichenoid reactions (OLRs) (20).

2. Allergic to some people

Some common mild to severe allergic symptoms are allergic reactions, dermatitis, heartburn, perianal burning, double vision, nausea, unsteadiness of gait, euphoria, and vomiting while in rare condition this oil cause interstitial nephritis and acute renal failure. The most common adverse effect among them was dermatitis (21).

3. Pregnant women should avoid using peppermint oil

Moreover peppermint essential oil also helpful to activate menstruation, therefore, this oil should not apply in pregnancy.  This oil consumption or application on infant sometime cause bronchospasm, tongue spasms, and respiratory arrest. Therefore, peppermint oil should use in minute levels (3 drops in an inhaler), so the probability of any toxic adverse reactions was minimized (22).   

Super summary

The main components of peppermint essential oil are menthol and menthone. These are mainly responsible for the following health-related benefits

  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties
  • Elevates mood and reduce tension headache, vomiting, and nausea
  • Protects skin against acne and sunburn
  • Treats prostate cancer

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19768994
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607906/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103722/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11509195/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11480259/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7954745/
  7.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900090/#CIT21
  8.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5960050/
  9.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813175/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9889172
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18955132
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435909/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23304561/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3403674/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16767798
  17.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16121523/
  18.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289931/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27333231
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21144345
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606594/
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17427617

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