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Mentha piperita


Mentha piperita

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Peppermint, hortela, mint, menta, mentha montana, menthe, nane.

Original Habitat

The plant has long roots and has small purplish blossoms. The peppermint plant can grow from 1 to 3 feet tall. It is widespread throughout Europe and the United States and can be commonly thought of as a weed.

Plant Part Used

Flowering herb


The oil of M. piperita is used in foods and beverages, cosmetics and general skin care products, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, chewing gum and candy. It is used rarely in blends in fragrance products. In therapeutic aromatherapy it is used both as single oil and in formulations.


The thin essential oil of M. piperita is steam distilled from the flowering herb and is light yellow to clear in colour. For oils of lesser quality, the herb may be distilled as well. The aroma is fresh and minty with a hint of woody undertones.

Chemical Constituents

Terpenols: Menthol (45%)
Terpenones: Menthone (30-60%)
Terpenes: Alpha and beta pinene [1][2]

Note: This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published. The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Cardiac tonic and stimulant, hypertensive +++
Antalgic and anesthetic +++
Prostatic decongestant ++
Intestinal and urinary anti-inflammatory +

Antifungal- M. piperita has been shown to possess strong antifungal activity, even when compared against a commercial fungicidal product. The chemical responsible for this action was menthone.[3] In a contrasting study, menthol was found to be the active responsible for the antifungal effect.[4] M. piperita has been found to be effective against Trichophyton tonsurans and Candida albicans.[5]

 Digestive Tract- Peppermint essential oil acts as an antispasmodic in the digestive system.[6] Other potential attributes include antifoaming and choleretic effects.[7]

Virucidal- The virucidal activity of peppermint oil was observed in both herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2. The outcome demonstrated that the oil could have a direct antiviral effect on both types of HSV, in an in vitro setting. The authors concluded that peppermint oil may be protective against reoccurrence of HSV infection when used topically.[8]

Antibacterial- When compared to other species of Mentha, M. piperita had stronger antibacterial action against E. coli, Shigella sonei and Micrococcus flavus.[5] When tested against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA), M. piperita demonstrated antibacterial activity.[9]

Antioxidant- When compared to M. aquatica L. and Mentha longifolia L., M. piperita showed the highest free radical scavenging activity. This is due to the ketones, menthone and isomenthone.[5]

Traditional Use

Digestive problems: nausea, vomiting, car sickness +++
Viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, colitis, ulcers ++
Asthenia, migraines, headaches +++
Neuralgia, sciatica +++
Itching (eczema, nettle rash) ++
Knocks, traumas ++

Irritable Bowel Syndrome- Many positive studies have examined peppermint oil in IBS. Researchers reviewed 16 studies using enteric-coated peppermint oil in individuals with IBS, dosage ranging from 180 mg- 100 mg. The results of this review showed that the oil had positive results in those participants with non-serious constipation or diarrhea. These results lessened symptoms and improved quality of life.  There were some side effects reported such as heartburn and anal and/or perianal burning.[10] A meta-analysis found that peppermint oil performed better than placebo after reviewing 12 studies.[11]

Pulmonary Tuberculosis- The antimycobacterial action of peppermint oil has been shown in vitro. Using the inhalation method (20 minutes of heat evaporation for 2 months), along with multi-drug therapy proved that this combination effective in treating pulmonary tuberculosis.[12] A more recent study showed that inhalation may reduce reoccurrence and/or exacerbations of pulmonary tuberculosis.[13]

Headache- Topical application of peppermint essential oil may relieve tension headaches.[14] Topical application may be an alternative to usual headache treatments.[15]

Abdominal Pain- A review study found that M. piperita oil was effective in reducing recurrent abdominal pain in children.[16]

Contraindications and Precautions

Do not use on infants or on pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

This oil should not be applied to large areas of the body.

Those with gastrointestinal reflux, kidney problems, or hiatal hernia should not use peppermint essential oil.[17]

This essential oil has an inverse effect depending on the dosage: it is a relaxant when used sparingly; a stimulant in high dosage.

Some individuals have a sensitivity to peppermint oil with reactions such as headache, nausea and rash.




[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1)  Medicinal Herbs


1.     Croteau R. Metabolism of Monoterpenes: Demonstration of (+)-Neomenthyl-beta-d-Glucoside as a Major Metabolite of (-)-Menthone in Peppermint (Mentha Piperita). Plant Physiol. 1979 Aug;64(2):169-175.

2.     Gherman C. Comparative analysis of some active principles of herb plants by GC/MS. Talanta. 2 2000 Oct;53(1):253-262.

3.     Soković MD. Chemical composition of essential oils of Thymus and Mentha species and their antifungal activities. Molecules. 2009 Jan 7;14(1):238-249.

4.     Edris AE. Antifungal activity of peppermint and sweet basil essential oils and their major aroma constituents on some plant pathogenic fungi from the vapor phase. Nahrung. 2003 Apr;47(2):117-121.

5.     Mimica-Dukić N. Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of three Mentha species essential oils. Planta Med. 2003 May;69(5):413-419.

6.     Grigoleit HG. Gastrointestinal clinical pharmacology of peppermint oil. Phytomedicine. 2005 Aug;12(8):607-611.

7.     Grigoleit HG. Pharmacology and preclinical pharmacokinetics of peppermint oil. Phytomedicine. 2005 Aug;12(8):612-616.

8.     Schuhmacher A. Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(6-7):504-510.

9.     Imai H. Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Microbios. 2001;106(1):31-39.

10.  Grigoleit HG. Peppermint oil in irritable bowel syndrome. Phytomedicine. 2005 Aug;12(8):601-606.

11.  Ford AC. Effect of fibre, antispasmodics, and peppermint oil in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Nov 13;337:a2313.

12.  Shkurupiĭ VA. Efficiency of the use of peppermint (Mentha piperita L) essential oil inhalations in the combined multi-drug therapy for pulmonary tuberculosis. Article in Russian. Probl Tuberk. 2002;(4):36-39.

13.  Shkurupiĭ VA. Use of essential oil of peppermint (Mentha piperita) in the complex treatment of patients with infiltrative pulmonary tuberculosis. Article in Russian. Probl Tuberk Bolezn Legk. 2006;(9):43-45.

14.  Kligler B. Peppermint oil. Am Fam Physician. 2007 Apr 1;75(7):1027-1030.

15.  Göbel H. Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type. Article in German. Nervenarzt. 1996 Aug;67(8):672-681.

16.  Weydert JA. Systematic review of treatments for recurrent abdominal pain. Pediatrics. 2003 Jan;111(1):e1-e11.

17.  McKay DL. A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytother Res. 2006 Aug;20(8):619-633.

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