Peppermint oil is used for a long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). It is also used for indigestion (dyspepsia), spasms in the bowel, cracked nipples, bed sores (pressure ulcers), and tension headache. It is also used for many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
In foods and beverages, peppermint is a common flavoring agent.
In manufacturing, peppermint oil is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics, and as a flavoring agent in pharmaceuticals.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Likely Effective for
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS). Most research shows that taking peppermint oil by mouth reduces stomach pain, bloating, gas, and bowel movements in people with IBS. Most trials have used specific peppermint oil products (Colpermin by Tillotts Pharma; Mintoil by Cadigroup; IBgard by IM HealthScience, Tempocol).
Possibly Effective for
- Relaxing the colon during a barium enema examination. Using peppermint oil as an ingredient in enemas seems to relax the colon during barium enema examinations. Also, taking peppermint oil by mouth before the start of a barium enema seems to decrease spasms.
- Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment. Research shows that taking peppermint extract by mouth reduces nausea and vomiting after cancer drug treatment. Also, early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil reduces nausea caused by cancer drug treatment.
- Indigestion (dyspepsia). Taking a specific product containing peppermint oil and caraway oil (Enteroplant or Menthacarin by Dr Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals) by mouth seems to improve symptoms of indigestion. Another product containing peppermint and many other ingredients (Iberogast by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) also seems to improve symptoms of indigestion. Another similar combination product (STW 5-II by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) also seems to help. However, taking peppermint oil alone does not seem to help with indigestion after surgery.
- Side effects caused by a certain procedure (endoscopy) used to view the inside of the body. Some research shows that peppermint oil can reduce spasms and pain in people having this procedure. Peppermint oil sprayed into the intestine by the doctor seems to work best. Oral peppermint taken a few hours before surgery might also work.
- Cracked nipples. Research shows that applying peppermint oil in gel, cream, or water to the skin reduces cracked skin and pain in the nipple area when breastfeeding.
- Bed sores (pressure ulcers). Research shows that applying a gel containing peppermint oil can prevent bed sores in people who must stay in bed for at least 2 weeks due to head trauma.
- Tension headache. Applying peppermint oil to the skin seems to help relieve tension headaches.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Anxiety. Early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil does not reduce anxiety before getting a catheter placed in the body.
- Hot flashes in people treated for breast cancer. Early research shows that a combination spray containing peppermint and other ingredients does not relieve hot flashes in people receiving chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil slightly improves memory and performance on mental tasks, but does not improve attention and speed of completing tasks.
- Spasm in the esophagus. Early research shows that drinking water containing five drops of peppermint oil stops spasms in the esophagus.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Early research shows that taking peppermint oil capsules at the start of menstruation helps to reduce pain, nausea, and vomiting in people with menstrual cramps.
- Insomnia. Early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil on a cotton ball attached to the collar at bedtime might help some people with cancer and mild insomnia sleep better.
- Migraine. Early research shows that putting drops of diluted peppermint oil into the nose might help to reduce migraine pain quickly.
- Acute pain. Early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil reduces pain by a small amount in people getting a catheter placed in the body.
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery. Some early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil might relieve nausea for up to 4 hours after surgery. But not all research agrees. It's possible that any relief with peppermint is due to improved breathing patterns after surgery rather than peppermint oil itself.
- Itching. Early research shows that applying peppermint oil to the skin twice a day for 2 weeks decreases itching in patients with itching related to kidney disease, liver disease, or diabetes. Also, applying a gel containing peppermint oil, menthol, and methyl salicylate decreases itching in people with burn scars. Early research also shows that applying oil containing 0.5% peppermint oil can reduce the severity of pregnancy-related itching.
- Stress. Early research shows that peppermint aromatherapy might reduce stress.
- Bad breath.
- Common cold.
- Excessive growth of bacteria in the small intestines.
- Hives (urticaria).
- Morning sickness.
- Mosquito repellent.
- Muscle pain.
- Nerve pain.
- Stomach pain.
- Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis).
- Symptoms of menopause.
- Tooth plaque.
- Other conditions.
When applied to the skin: Peppermint and peppermint oil are LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin.
When given as an enema (rectally): Peppermint and peppermint oil are LIKELY SAFE when used rectally.
When inhaled: Peppermint oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when inhaled as part of aromatherapy.
When applied into the nose: There isn't enough reliable information to know if peppermint is safe or what the side effects might be.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Children and infants: Peppermint is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts found in foods. Peppermint oil is POSSIBLY SAFE in children 8 years of age and older when taken by mouth in pills with a special (enteric) coating to prevent contact with the stomach.
Diarrhea: Taking peppermint oil could cause anal burning with diarrhea.
Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) interacts with PEPPERMINT
The body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) to get rid of it. Peppermint oil might decrease how quickly the body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). Taking peppermint oil products along with cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might increase the risk of side effects for cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune).
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with PEPPERMINT
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver
Peppermint oil and leaf might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking peppermint oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking peppermint oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver
Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), haloperidol (Haldol), ondansetron (Zofran), propranolol (Inderal), theophylline (Theo-Dur, others), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, others), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates) interacts with PEPPERMINT
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver
Peppermint oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking peppermint oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking peppermint oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver
Some medications that are changed by the liver include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix); diazepam (Valium); carisoprodol (Soma); nelfinavir (Viracept); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with PEPPERMINT
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Peppermint oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking peppermint oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking peppermint oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications that are changed by the liver include diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), ibuprofen (Motrin), meloxicam (Mobic), and piroxicam (Feldene); celecoxib (Celebrex); amitriptyline (Elavil); warfarin (Coumadin); glipizide (Glucotrol); losartan (Cozaar); and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with PEPPERMINT
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Peppermint oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking peppermint oil along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking peppermint oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver
Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
Be cautious with this combination
Antacids interacts with PEPPERMINT
Some peppermint oil products are covered with a special coating. Antacids are used to decrease stomach acid. Low stomach acid can cause the coating of these peppermint oil products to dissolve too quickly. When peppermint oil products dissolve too quickly they can sometimes cause heartburn and nausea. Take antacids at least two hours after coated peppermint oil products.
Some antacids include calcium carbonate (Tums, others), dihydroxyaluminum sodium carbonate (Rolaids, others), magaldrate (Riopan), magnesium sulfate (Bilagog), aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel), and others.
Medications that decrease stomach acid (H2-Blockers) interacts with PEPPERMINT
Some peppermint oil products are covered with a special coating. Some medications that decrease stomach acid might cause the coating of these peppermint oil products to dissolve too quickly. When peppermint oil products dissolve too quickly they can sometimes cause heartburn and nausea. Take medications that decrease stomach acid at least two hours after coated peppermint oil products
Some medications that decrease stomach acid include cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), nizatidine (Axid), and famotidine (Pepcid).
Medications that decrease stomach acid (Proton pump inhibitors) interacts with PEPPERMINT
Some peppermint oil products are covered with a special coating. Some medications that decrease stomach acid might cause the coating of these peppermint oil products to dissolve too quickly. When peppermint oil products dissolve too quickly they can sometimes cause heartburn and nausea. Take medications that decrease stomach acid at least two hours after coated peppermint oil products
Some medications that decrease stomach acid include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (Aciphex), pantoprazole (Protonix), and esomeprazole (Nexium).
Be watchful with this combination
- For a long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS): One to two enteric-coated capsules each providing 0.2 mL or 180-225 mg of peppermint oil three times daily has been used. Most trials have used specific peppermint oil products (Colpermin by Tillotts Pharma; Mintoil by Cadigroup; IBgard by IM HealthScience).
- For indigestion (dyspepsia): A specific product containing 90 mg of peppermint oil and 50 mg of caraway oil (Enteroplant or Menthacarin by Dr Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals), taken two or three times daily for up to 4 weeks has been used. A specific combination product containing peppermint leaf and several other herbs (Iberogast by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) has been used in a dose of 1 mL three times daily. A similar herbal preparation containing extracts from clown's mustard, German chamomile flower, peppermint leaves, caraway, licorice root, and lemon balm (STW 5-II by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH), 1 mL taken three times daily for up to 8 weeks, has been used.
- For side effects caused by a certain procedure (endoscopy) used to view the inside of the body: Enteric-coated capsules containing 187 mg of 0.2 mL of peppermint oil have been taken 4 hours before a colonoscopy.
- For cracked nipples: Peppermint oil cream or gel 0.2% has been applied 1-3 times every day for 2 weeks. Also, a solution containing peppermint oil has been applied after every breastfeeding for 2 weeks.
- For side effects caused by a certain procedure (endoscopy) used to view the inside of the body: 20 mL of spray containing 0.4-1.6% peppermint oil applied to the antrum during endoscopy has been used. Also 16-40 mL of solution containing peppermint oil has been applied into the lumen during endoscopy.
- For bed sores (pressure ulcers): A gel containing peppermint oil 0.2% applied three times daily for up to 14 days has been used.
- For tension headaches: 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution applied across the forehead and temples, repeated after 15 and 30 minutes, has been used.
- For relaxing the colon during a barium enema examination: 8 mL of peppermint oil was added to 100 mL water along with a surface active agent, Tween 80. The insoluble fraction was removed, then 30 mL of the remaining peppermint solution was added to 300 mL of the barium solution. Also, 16 mL of peppermint oil and 0.4 mL of polysorbate was diluted in 2 liters of purified water, then 30 mL of the peppermint solution was added to barium paste suspended in 370 mL of water in an enema bag, and 10 mL of the peppermint solution was added to the enema tubing.
- For a long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS): One or two enteric-coated capsules containing 0.2 mL of peppermint oil per capsule (Colpermin by Tillotts Pharma) has been taken three times daily for 2 weeks by children aged 8 years and older.
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