Keywords: irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion
On this page
- What It Is Used For
- How It Is Used
- What the Science Says
- Side Effects and Cautions
- For More Information
This fact sheet provides basic information about peppermint oil—uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. The herbA plant or part of a plant used for its flavor, scent, or potential therapeutic properties. Includes flowers, leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, stems, and roots. peppermint, a cross between two types of mint (water mint and spearmint), grows throughout Europe and North America. Peppermint is often used to flavor foods, and the leaves can be used fresh or dried in teas.
Common Names—peppermint oil
Latin Names—Mentha x piperita
What It Is Used For
- Peppermint oil has been used for a variety of health conditions, including nausea, indigestion, and cold symptoms.
- Peppermint oil is also used for headaches, muscle and nerve pain, and stomach and bowel conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
How It Is Used
Essential oil of peppermint can be taken in very small doses in capsule or liquid forms. The essential oil can also be diluted with another oil and applied to the skin.
What the Science Says
- Results from several studies suggest that peppermint oil may improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
- A few studies have found that peppermint oil, in combination with caraway oil, may help relieve indigestion, but this evidence is preliminary.
- Although there are some promising results, there is no clear-cut evidence to support the use of peppermint oil for other health conditions.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Peppermint oil appears to be safe for most adults when used in small doses. Possible side effects include allergic reactions and heartburn.
- Capsules containing peppermint oil are often coated to reduce the likelihood of heartburn. If they are taken at the same time as medicines such as antacids, this coating can break down more quickly and increase the risk of heartburn and nausea.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
- Peppermint. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on December 28, 2006.
- Peppermint oil (Mentha x piperita L.). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on December 28, 2006.
- Peppermint. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:297–303.
For More Information
- What's in the Bottle? An Introduction to Dietary Supplements
- Herbal Supplements: Consider Safety, Too
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NIH National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus
Peppermint Oil Listing: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-peppermint.html
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NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.
NCCAM Publication No. D365
Created March 2007
Updated June 2008
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