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Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Binomial name
Mentha × piperita

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita, also known as M. balsamea Willd.[1]) is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint.[2] The plant, indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, is now widespread in cultivation in many regions of the world.[3] It is found wild occasionally with its parent species.[3][4]


Peppermint flowers.

Peppermint was first described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus from specimens that had been collected in England; he treated it as a species,[5] but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid.[6]

It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 30–90 cm (12–35 in) tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots. The leaves are from 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 1.5–4 cm (0.59–1.57 in) broad, dark green with reddish veins, and with an acute apex and coarsely toothed margins. The leaves and stems are usually slightly fuzzy. The flowers are purple, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) long, with a four-lobed corolla about 5 mm (0.20 in) diameter; they are produced in whorls (verticillasters) around the stem, forming thick, blunt spikes. Flowering is from mid to late summer. The chromosome number is variable, with 2n counts of 66, 72, 84, and 120 recorded.[4][7][8] Peppermint is a fast-growing plant; once it sprouts, it spreads very quickly.


Peppermint typically occurs in moist habitats, including stream sides and drainage ditches. Being a hybrid, it is usually sterile, producing no seeds and reproducing only vegetatively, spreading by its rhizomes. If placed, it can grow anywhere, with a few exceptions.[4][8]

Outside of its native range, areas where peppermint was formerly grown for oil often have an abundance of feral plants, and it is considered invasive in Australia, the Galápagos Islands, New Zealand,[9] and in the United States[10] in the Great Lakes region, noted since 1843.[11]


Peppermint generally grows best in moist, shaded locations, and expands by underground rhizomes. Young shoots are taken from old stocks and dibbled into the ground about 1.5 feet apart. They grow quickly and cover the ground with runners if it is permanently moist. For the home gardener, it is often grown in containers to restrict rapid spreading. It grows best with a good supply of water, without being water-logged, and planted in areas with part-sun to shade.

The leaves and flowering tops are used; they are collected as soon as the flowers begin to open and can be dried. The wild form of the plant is less suitable for this purpose, with cultivated plants having been selected for more and better oil content. They may be allowed to lie and wilt a little before distillation, or they may be taken directly to the still.

Chemical constituents

Peppermint has a high menthol content. The oil also contains menthone and menthyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate.[12] Dried peppermint typically has 0.3-0.4% of volatile oil containing menthol (7-48%), menthone (20-46%), menthyl acetate (3-10%), menthofuran (1-17%) and 1,8-cineol (3-6%). Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of many additional compounds including limonene, pulegone, caryophyllene and pinene.[13][14]

Culinary and other uses

1887 illustration from Köhlers; Medicinal Plants.

Pliny the elder, 79 AD, an ancient Roman author, natural philosopher and naval and military commander wrote Naturalis Historia, it tells us that the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with peppermint at their feasts and adorned their tables with its sprays, and that their cooks flavoured both their sauces and their wines with its essence.[15]

It is the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured confectionery and is often used in tea and for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos, soaps and skin care products.

Menthol activates cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the skin and mucosal tissues, and is the primary source of the cooling sensation that follows the topical application of peppermint oil.[16]

Peppermint flowers are large nectar producers and honey can be produced if there is a sufficient area of plants.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil

Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly pulegone (Found mainly in Mentha arvensis var. piperascens Cornmint, Field Mint, Japanese Mint and to a lesser extent-6,530 ppm in Mentha x piperita subsp. nothosubsp. piperita[17]) and menthone.[18]

The chemical composition of the essential oil from peppermint (Mentha x piperita L.) was analyzed by GC/FID and GC-MS. The main constituents were menthol (40.7%) and menthone (23.4%). Further components were (+/-)-menthyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, beta-pinene and beta-caryophyllene.[19]

Peppermint oil in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with constipation

Peppermint oil has also been shown to be effective for IBS with constipation.[20][21][22]

Possible medicinal uses

Freeze-dried leaves.

Peppermint has a long tradition of use in folk medicine and aromatherapy. Peppermint is commonly thought to soothe or treat symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel, and bloating,[23][24][25] although most of these effects have not been adequately demonstrated in human research.[26]

The aroma of peppermint has been studied for its possible effect to enhance memory and alertness,[27][28] although other research contests this.[26][29]

Peppermint oil ingestion by capsules for four weeks may relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms[26][30][31] via an effect on pain sensing fibers.[32]

According to the German Commission E monographs, peppermint oil (as well as peppermint leaf) has been used internally as an antispasmodic (upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts) and to treat irritable bowel syndrome, catarrh of the respiratory tract, and inflammation of the oral mucosa. Externally, peppermint oil has been used for myalgia and neuralgia. According to Commission E, peppermint oil may also act as a carminative, cholagogue, antibacterial, and secretolytic, and it has a cooling action.[33]

Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules (Colpermin) have been used as an orally administered antispasmodic premedication in colonoscopy. The capsules were found beneficial in reducing total procedure time, reducing colonic spasm, increasing endoscopist satisfaction and decreasing pain in patients during colonoscopy.[26][34]

When peppermint oil antacid products dissolve too quickly, they can sometimes cause heartburn and nausea.[26]

Due to the menthol constituent, topical use of peppermint oil around the facial or chest areas of infants and young children, especially around the nose, can induce apnea, laryngeal and bronchial spasm, acute respiratory distress with cyanosis, or respiratory arrest.[35]

Peppermint oil is also used in construction and plumbing to test for the tightness of pipes and disclose leaks by its odor.[36]


The toxicity studies of the plant have received controversial results. Some authors reported that the plant may induce hepatic diseases (liver disease), while others found that it protects against liver damage that is caused by heavy metals.[37][38] In addition to that, the toxicities of the plant seem to vary from one cultivar to another[39] and are dose dependent.[37][40] This is probably attributed from the content level of pulegone.[41]

With the limitation that the concentration of pulegone should not exceed 1%, it has been concluded that Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaves, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Water are safe as used in cosmetic formulations.[42]


Peppermint also contains terpenoids and flavonoids such as eriocitrin, hesperidin and kaempferol 7-O-rutinoside.[43]

List of the cultivars

The mentha x piperita hybrid, known as "chocolate mint."

A number of cultivars have been selected for garden use:

  • Mentha × piperita 'Candymint'. Stems reddish.[44]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Chocolate Mint'. Flowers open from bottom up; reminiscent of flavour in Andes Chocolate Mints, a popular confection.[45][46][47]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Citrata'. Includes a number of varieties including Eau De Cologne Mint,[48] Grapefruit Mint, Lemon Mint,[49] and Orange Mint. Leaves aromatic, hairless.
  • Mentha × piperita 'Crispa'. Leaves wrinkled.[50]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Lavender Mint'.[51]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Lime Mint'. Foliage lime-scented.[52][53]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Variegata'. Leaves mottled green and pale yellow.[54]

Commercial cultivars may include

Standardization of its products and services

Candy canes are one of the most common peppermint-flavored candies

See also


  1. ^ WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants: Volume 2. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2002. pp. 188, 199.  
  2. ^ The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs, Alex Frampton, The Reader's Digest Association, 2009
  3. ^ a b Euro+Med Plantbase Project: Mentha × piperita
  4. ^ a b c Flora of NW Europe: Mentha × piperita
  5. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1753). Species Plantarum 2: 576–577.
  6. ^ Harley, R. M. (1975). Mentha L. In: Stace, C. A., ed. Hybridization and the flora of the British Isles page 387.
  7. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  8. ^ a b Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
  9. ^ Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk: Mentha x piperita
  10. ^ USDA Plants Profile: Mentha x piperita
  11. ^ "List of invasive species in the Great Lakes Great Lakes United / Union Saint-Laurent Grands Lacs". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  12. ^ PDR for Herbal Medicines, 4th Edition, Thomson Healthcare, page 640. ISBN 978-1-56363-678-3
  13. ^ Leung, A. Y. (1980). Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in food, drugs and cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 231. 
  14. ^ [1], Chemical composition of essential oils from several species of mint (Mentha).
  15. ^ "Peppermint production". Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  16. ^ R. Eccles (1994). "Menthol and Related Cooling Compounds".  
  17. ^ Duke's Data Base
  18. ^ Robert Irving Krieger (2001). Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology: Principles. Academic Press. p. 823.  
  19. ^ Schmidt E., Bail S., Buchbauer G., Stoilova I., Atanasova T., Stoyanova A., Krastanov A., Jirovetz L."Chemical composition, olfactory evaluation and antioxidant effects of essential oil from Mentha x piperita." Natural product communications. 4 (8) (pp 1107-1112), 2009.
  20. ^ "Effect of fibre, antispasmodics, and peppermint oil in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis.". British Medical Journal. 
  21. ^ "Peppermint oil (Mintoil®) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial". Digestive and Liver Disease. 
  22. ^ "Peppermint oil in irritable bowel syndrome". Phytomedicine. 
  23. ^ "Peppermint". Mosby's Handbook of Herbs & Natural Supplements. Credo Reference: Elsevier Health Sciences. 2010. 
  24. ^ "Peppermint". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009. 
  25. ^ Heather Boon; Michael Smith (2004). Bob Hilderley, Senior Editor, Health, ed. The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs (2nd ed.). Canada: Robert Rose. pp. 227–229.  
  26. ^ a b c d e "Medline Plus: Peppermint oil". US National Library of Medicine. 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  27. ^ Moss, Mark; Hewitt, Steven; Moss, Lucy; Wesnes, Kieth (2008). "Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang". The International journal of neuroscience 118 (1): 59–77.  
  28. ^ "On the scent of a better day at work", New Scientist, 2 March 1991, p. 18
  29. ^ "Essential oils are not so essential after all", Claire Ainsworth, New Scientist, 21 April 2001, p. 16.
  30. ^ Cappello, G; Spezzaferro, M; Grossi, L; Manzoli, L; Marzio, L (2007). "Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial". Digestive and Liver Disease 39 (6): 530–6.  
  31. ^ Merat, Shahin; Khalili, Shadi; Mostajabi, Pardise; Ghorbani, Anahita; Ansari, Reza; Malekzadeh, Reza (2010). "The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome". Digestive diseases and sciences 55 (5): 1385–90.  
  32. ^ "How Peppermint Helps to Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome". ScienceDaily. April 20, 2011. 
  33. ^ Keifer D., Ulbricht C., Abrams T., Basch E., Giese N., Giles M., DeFranco Kirkwood C., Miranda M., Woods J."Peppermint (Mentha xpiperita): An evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration." Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 7 (2) (pp 91-143), 2007.
  34. ^ Shavakhi A, Ardestani SK, Taki M, Goli M, Keshteli AH.,"Premedication with peppermint oil capsules in colonoscopy: a double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial study". Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2012 Sep;75(3):349-53
  35. ^ ib id
  36. ^ M. G. Kains (1912). American Agriculturist, ed. Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation Harvesting Curing and Uses (English). Orange Judd Company. 
  37. ^ a b Akdogan, M; Ozguner, M; Aydin, G; Gokalp, O (2004). "Investigation of biochemical and histopathological effects of Mentha piperita Labiatae and Mentha spicata Labiatae on liver tissue in rats". Human & Experimental Toxicology 23 (1): 21–8.  
  38. ^ Sharma, A; Sharma, MK; Kumar, M (2007). "Protective effect of Mentha piperita against arsenic-induced toxicity in liver of Swiss albino mice.". Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology 100 (4): 249–57.  
  39. ^ Akdogan, M; Kilinç, I; Oncu, M; Karaoz, E; Delibas, N (2003). "Investigation of biochemical and histopathological effects of Mentha piperita L. and Mentha spicata L. on kidney tissue in rats". Human & Experimental Toxicology 22 (4): 213–9.  
  40. ^ Akdogan, M; Gultekin, F; Yontem, M (2004). "Effect of Mentha piperita (Labiatae) and Mentha spicata (Labiatae) on iron absorption in rats". Toxicology and industrial health 20 (6–10): 119–22.  
  41. ^ Farley, Derek R.; Howland, Valerie (1980). "The natural variation of the pulegone content in various oils of peppermint". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 31 (11): 1143–51.  
  42. ^ Nair B."Final report on the safety assessment of Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf, and Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Water." International journal of toxicology. 20 Suppl 3 (pp 61-73), 2001.
  43. ^ UV-B modulates the interplay between terpenoids and flavonoids in peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.). Yuliya Dolzhenko, Cinzia M. Bertea, Andrea Occhipinti, Simone Bossi and Massimo E. Maffei, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, Volume 100, Issue 2, 2 August 2010, Pages 67–75, doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2010.05.003
  44. ^ The Herbarist. Herb Society of America. 1997. p. 39. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  45. ^ "Mentha piperita cv. Chocolate Mint". Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  46. ^ Dolf De Rovira (28 February 2008). Dictionary of Flavors. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 420–.  
  47. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Chocolate Mint' : peppermint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  48. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Citrata' : eau de cologne mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  49. ^ "Mentha x piperita var. citrata : lemon mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  50. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Crispa' : eau de cologne mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  51. ^ "HortiPlex Plant Database: Info, Images and Links on Thousands of Plants". Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  52. ^ Harrowsmith Country Life. Camden House Pub. 1990. p. 48. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  53. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Lime Mint' : eau de cologne mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  54. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Variegata' : variegated mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  55. ^ a b c d e Stanev, S.; V.D. Zheljazkov. "Study on essential oil and free menthol accumulation in 19 cultivars, populations, and clones of peppermint (Mentha X Piperita)". Retrieved 6 June 2009. 
  56. ^ a b c Jullien, Frédéric; Diemer, Florence; Colson, Monique; Faure, Olivier (1998). Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 54 (3): 153–9.  
  57. ^  
  58. ^  
  59. ^  

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