Peppermint is a naturally occurring hybrid of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and wild mint (Mentha aquatica).
The plant grows wild throughout Europe and North America in moist areas and is thought to be of Mediterranean origin. The leaves and stems of peppermint contain volatile oils that give the plant its pungent fragrance and taste. The oil contains menthol, which is responsible for the sensation of coolness that is characteristic of peppermint. The genus Mentha was named after the Greek nymph Minthe.
Oral consumption of peppermint can improve gastrointestinal health
Clinical research shows that taking peppermint and caraway oil twice daily for 4 weeks also improves postprandial distress syndrome and epigastric pain syndrome, two subtypes of dyspepsia, when compared with placebo (1).
A specific combination product containing peppermint leaf (Iberogast, Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) also seems to improve symptoms of dyspepsia. The combination includes peppermint leaf plus clown's mustard plant, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, milk thistle, angelica, celandine, and lemon balm. A meta-analysis of studies using this combination product shows that taking 1 mL orally three times daily over a period of 4 weeks reduces the severity of acid reflux, epigastric pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting when compared with placebo (2).
A similar combination product containing extracts from peppermint leaf, clown's mustard plant, German chamomile flower, caraway, licorice root, and lemon balm (STW 5-II, Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH) 1 mL taken three times daily for up to 8 weeks eliminates gastrointestinal symptoms in 40% more dyspepsia patients when compared with placebo (3).
1. Rich G, Shah A, Koloski N, Funk P, Stracke B, Köhler S, Holtmann G. A randomized placebo-controlled trial on the effects of Menthacarin, a proprietary peppermint- and caraway-oil-preparation, on symptoms and quality of life in patients with functional dyspepsia. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2017 Nov;29(11).
2. Melzer J, Rösch W, Reichling J, Brignoli R, Saller R. Meta-analysis: phytotherapy of functional dyspepsia with the herbal drug preparation STW 5 (Iberogast). Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Dec;20(11-12):1279-87.
3. Madisch A, Holtmann G, Mayr G, Vinson B, Hotz J. Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a herbal preparation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Digestion. 2004;69(1):45-52. Epub 2004 Jan 30. PMID: 14755152.