Herb Basics: Peppermint Benefits

Learn about the benefits of peppermint and how to use it in tea, tincture, or extract.

| May/June 2001

Common name: Peppermint
Latin name: Mentha x piperita
Family: Lamiaceae
Part used: Leaf

Medicinal uses: Peppermint tea is used to relieve nausea and indigestion; enteric-coated peppermint-oil capsules are used for irritable bowel syndrome; inhalation of the vapors of peppermint essential oil, which is 30 to 48 percent menthol, is thought to ease congestion and improve breathing.

Forms commonly used: Tea, tincture, oil capsules, lozenge, and essential oil.

Dosage: Make a tea with a small handful of fresh leaves or 1 tablespoon of the dried herb per cup of water, and drink a cup 2 or 3 times daily. Take 10 to 20 drops of peppermint tincture in water after meals. Take 1 to 2 enteric-coated capsules three times daily between meals. Drink 5 drops of the essential oil in a glass of water three times daily. For congestion, put a few drops of the oil in a basin of hot water and inhale the vapor with your eyes closed.

Side effects: Peppermint is a very safe herb, and most adults can drink the tea safely with no adverse effects. Use caution when administering the herb to young children, who may be more sensitive to menthol. Coated peppermint-oil capsules may open in the stomach, causing heartburn. Do not apply the essential oil directly to mucous membranes. Peppermint should be avoided by individuals with gallbladder or bile-duct problems, as well as by those allergic to menthol.

Notes: Peppermint is the leaf of a hybrid between spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (M. aquatica). 

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