Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Peppermint: Medical Uses

Peppermint is used for colds, fevers, and gastrointestinal complaints.

Historical Uses

Peppermint has been used historically for indigestion, colic, and fevers.


This perennial aromatic herb of the mint family can be grown as a houseplant or in an herb garden. It spreads easily in a garden.

Part Used

• Leaves

Major Chemical Compounds

• Volatile oil made up of menthol, menthone, and menthyl acetate

Clinical Uses

Peppermint is given for colds, fevers, and gastrointestinal complaints. Peppermint oil capsules have improved symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Mechanism of Action

This herb has carmative (gas-relieving) and antispasmodic effects because it blocks calcium and decreases hypercontractility of intestinal smooth muscle. Menthol has a choleretic effect.

Peppermint: Dosage

Tea (infusion): 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water, steeped for 5 minutes. Cover the cup to prevent volatile oils from escaping. Drink three times daily.

Side Effects

Peppermint may cause hypersensitivity reactions and contact dermatitis.


• Peppermint is contraindicated in patients with gallstones.

• Peppermint may reduce or negate the beneficial effects of homeopathic remedies. Consult a homeopathic practitioner before taking peppermint along with these remedies.

Herb-Drug Interactions

None are known.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding

No restrictions are known.

Summary of Studies

Most studies are done with peppermint oil capsules, not peppermint leaf.

Kline et al. (2001). This randomized, double-blind, controlled, multicenter study of 42 children with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome showed improvement in 75 percent of those who received peppermint oil capsules for 2 weeks.

May et al. (2000). This randomized, controlled trial using one capsule twice daily of 90 mg peppermint oil and 50 mg caraway oil (Enteroplant) in 96 patients with a diagnosis of functional dyspepsia over 28 days resulted in a positive risk-beneft ratio and was well tolerated.

Peppermint: Warnings

• Peppermint may cause allergic reactions and rash.

• Don’t take peppermint if you have gallstones.

• Peppermint may interfere with homeopathic remedies. If you take such a remedy, consult your homeopathic practitioner.