Peppermint oil is derived from the peppermint plant -- a cross between water mint and spearmint -- that thrives in Europe and North America.
Peppermint oil is commonly used as flavoring in foods and beverages and as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics. Peppermint oil also is used for a variety of health conditions and can be taken orally in dietary supplements or topically as a skin cream or ointment.
Medicine is rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness before becoming available to the consumer. In the U.S., the FDA makes sure this happens. Once on the market, the FDA, along with the makers of the drug, continue to monitor the medicine for any unforeseen problems. Should an issue develop, or the safety of a medication come into question, a recall may be initiated.
Some evidence suggests that peppermint oil may help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion. But despite promising research, there is no clear-cut evidence to support its use for other health conditions.
When used as directed, dietary supplements and skin preparations containing peppermint oil are likely safe for most adults.
Peppermint oil may cause side effects such as heartburn and it may interact with certain medications. Talk to your health care provider before using peppermint oil.
Medicinal Uses of Peppermint Oil
In dietary supplements, peppermint oil has been tried for a variety of digestive problems including: