Medicinal properties of mint have been known since ancient Egyptian times. The first description of peppermint, a naturally occurring mint hybrid, is traced to 17th century England. English peppermint is to this day regarded as the highest quality mint herb. Peppermint grown in the US, the world's largest producer of both the herb and its oil, originates from the famous Mitcham English mint.
Among the many medicinal applications that peppermint oil has been investigated for, the strongest evidence exists for its use in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Peppermint oil relaxes the gastrointestinal
smooth muscle and reduces spasms in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the oil can also relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which leads to side effects such as gastroesophageal reflux. To prevent this, the oil is packaged in enteric-coated capsules. Enteric coating minimizes side effects by ensuring targeted release of the oil in the lower gastrointestinal tract.
Other ways to use peppermint
Although not as concentrated as the oil, peppermint tea also contains active ingredients and can soothe abdominal discomfort. Make the tea by adding one tablespoon of peppermint leaf in one cup of boiling water. Steep for at least 30 minutes. Longer steeping times allow for better extraction of active ingredients.
A fragrant, flavorful herb like peppermint can be added to foods that are hard to digest, such as beans and cabbage. Adding peppermint towards the end of the cooking process maintains the stability of its active ingredients.
How to use
Peppermint oil should be used cautiously because excessive doses of it may be toxic. Doses of enteric-coated peppermint oil used in clinical trials ranged from 0.2-0.4 mL, administered three times a day. It is best to take the capsules 30 minutes before a meal, to allow the oil enough time to act.
The most common side effect reported in clinical trials is heartburn. Preventing the release of the oil in the upper gastrointestinal tract can minimize heartburn. To avoid early release, do not chew the capsules and do not take them with a meal.
Do not exceed the recommended dose as large amounts of peppermint oil may be toxic. It is important to note that all clinical trials investigated the use of peppermint oil during a relatively short period of time (1-3 months). Long-term effects of peppermint oil are still unknown.
Peppermint Oil Supplements
Colpermin Peppermint Oil Capsules, used in several clinical trials
Last updated: August 16, 2016