Peppermint is a herb with the botanical name Mentha piperita.
The herb is native to Europe and found growing in moist areas such as the banks of streams. It is cultivated extensively throughout Central and Southern Europe and America. The stems of the plant grow to approximately 60 cm or higher and develop leaves that are up to 9 cm long and 3 cm wide with a serrated margin.
Clusters of little reddish violet flowers are also seen. The whole plant has a distinctive odour and gives a warm taste on the tongue. The herb is gathered just before the flowers open. Peppermint includes up to 1.5% of a volatile oil containing menthol, menthone and menthyl acetate as the major constituents. Flavonoids are also found along with rosearinic acid, azulenes, choline and carotenes.
Herbal supplements can alter the effects of certain drugs, including prescription medications. Always tell your Doctor about any prescription medications, non-prescription medications, herbs or other dietary supplements you are taking. - Close monitoring is recommended if Peppermint oil preparations are being used in conjunction with the calcium channel blocker class of drugs. Animal studies have shown that Peppermint oil may have an antispasmodic effect in the gut by blocking calcium channels. - Peppermint teas contain substances that reduce the absorption of iron supplements and decrease the absorption of the iron content of food. - Peppermint Oil reduces the movements of the stomach and intestines, so may reduce the effectiveness of drugs like cisapride and domperidone, which act by increasing the movements of the intestines.
Always consult your Health Professional to advise you on dosages and any possible medical interactions.
DIGESTION Peppermint is one of the most popular digestive tonics available and has a long traditional history of use in herbal medicine. Flatulence or wind, colic and digestive problems associated with excessive gas production and nausea may respond well to Peppermint. This herb has a relaxing effect on the muscles of the digestive system, which may help relieve stomach cramps and spasm. The volatile oil within Peppermint is thought to have a mild anaesthetic action on the stomach wall that helps relieve nausea and the desire to vomit.
Sluggish digestion results in the slow digestion and elimination of food that accumulates and ferments in the digestive tract, producing gas. This gas can then cause bloating, cramping, colic and flatulence, which may be uncomfortable and painful in some cases. Peppermint stimulates the flow of bile and digestive juices. This action helps the body to digest food more effectively. The abdominal, colicky pain felt by people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome may be relieved to some extent by taking Peppermint.
COLDS AND FLU Peppermint promotes sweating, which may help regulate body temperature when a fever - adults is present. The reported pain relieving action of peppermint may also be useful in managing other symptoms such as headache and congested sinuses. Inhaling the essential oil of Peppermint helps to clear the nasal passages of congested mucus.
OTHER USES Applied externally, Peppermint may help relieve itching and inflammation. Peppermint is an ingredient commonly found in ointments for skin irritations.
Antibacterial, antiviral, spasmolytic, bile stimulant and anti-inflammatory.
NOTES- Peppermint is considered to be safe to use during pregnancy under the guidance of a Health Professional. - Peppermint may relax the sphincter between the stomach and the oesophagus, causing symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. People with gastro-oesophageal reflux may find that preparations containing peppermint oil can worsen their symptoms. Worsening of symptoms may also be experienced by people with hiatus hernia. - Peppermint leaf tea should be used with caution in small children and infants due to the volatile oil content which may cause irritation and spasms of the airways in sensitive individuals.