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, hard, painful breasts in breast-feeding women, 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.
- Hard, painful breasts in breast-feeding women. Research shows that breastfeeding women who apply peppermint oil in gel, cream, or water to their skin have less cracked skin and pain in the nipple area.
- Indigestion (dyspepsia). Taking a specific product containing peppermint oil and caraway oil (Enteroplant or Menthacarin by Dr Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals) by mouth seems to reduce feelings of fullness, discomfort, pain, and stomach spasms. It also appears to improve quality of life. Another specific combination product containing peppermint (Iberogast by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) also seems to improve symptoms of heartburn, including severity of acid reflux, stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. The combination includes peppermint leaf plus clown's mustard plant, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, milk thistle, angelica, celandine, and lemon balm. Another similar combination product containing peppermint leaf, clown's mustard, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, and lemon balm (STW 5-II by Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) also seems to help. However, peppermint oil does not seem to help indigestion when taken as a single ingredient 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.
- 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 most women receiving chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.
- Nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment. Early research shows that inhaling peppermint oil reduces nausea caused by cancer drug treatment by a small amount.
- 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.
- Tooth plaque. Early research shows that rinsing with a solution containing peppermint powder and other ingredients reduces plaque compared to a water solution. However, it doesn't work better than a solution containing chlorhexidine.
- Spasm in the esophagus. Early research shows that drinking water containing five drops of peppermint oil stops spasms in the esophagus.
- Bad breath. Early research shows that a specific combination of tea tree oil, peppermint, and lemon oil can improve breath smell when used for 3 minutes.
- 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.
- Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Early research shows that rinsing the mouth with a combination of peppermint oil and German chamomile might decrease how severe mouth ulcers are and how long they last in patients undergoing a stem cell transplant. Also, rinsing the mouth with a combination of peppermint, sage, and thyme might delay how long it takes to get mouth ulcers after receiving chemotherapy with a drug called 5-fluorouracil.
- 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 itchy skin in women with pregnancy-related itching.
- Stress. Early research shows that peppermint aromatherapy might reduce stress.
- Bacteria overgrowth in the intestines.
- Cough and symptoms of cold.
- Inflammation of mouth and respiratory tract lining.
- Lung infections.
- Morning sickness.
- Muscle or nerve pain.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Painful menstrual periods.
- 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.
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.
A stomach condition in which the stomach is not producing hydrochloric acid (achlorhydria): Don't use enteric-coated peppermint oil if you have this condition. The enteric coating might dissolve too early in the digestive process.
Diarrhea: Taking enteric-coated peppermint oil could cause anal burning if you experience 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 hard, painful breasts in breast-feeding women: 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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