Peppermint or Mentha piperata is a pleasant tasting herb, yes they do exist with a wide variety of medicinal uses. Peppermint is a medicinal paradox because it can be used as both a stimulant and a relaxant. It is stimulating to the circulation but soothing to the nerves.
Peppermint is different from other members of the Mint Family as it contains within the volatile oil found in Peppermint, the powerful therapeutic ingredient menthol, methone, menthyl acetate among some 40 other additional chemical compounds. The oil can be gathered from the leaves using steam distillation.
LIST OF ACTIONS
Peppermint is well known for its antispasmodic action to relieve nervous irritability and reduce or prevent muscle spasms which in turn makes it useful when treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Other applications of Peppermint are as follows;
- Clear congestion and coughs related to colds and allergies
- Control flatulence and diverticular disorders
- Control mild asthma
- Control muscle aches and chronic pain
- Dissolve gallstones
- Ease nausea and vomitting
- Improve digestion and reduce heartburn
- Reduce the severity of herpes outbreaks
- Resolve Bad Breath
- Manage stress
- Alternative for conventional drugs in reducing digestive spasms during Upper Endoscopy Procedures
The first academic study reporting the use Peppermint oil as an anodyne or analgesic to ease headaches when applied across the forehead and temples was published in the British medical journal Lancet in 1879. Peppermint soothes and reduces muscle spasms so it is helpful in treating the pain of indigestion, flatulence and intestinal colic.
Peppermint also supports the process of digestion and the volatile oil within the herb appears to be responsible for this effect. The menthol, methone and menthyl acetate in the volatile oil stimulates the release of bile and also relaxes the main muscles in the gut. Peppermint also soothes the lining and muscles of the colon, it alleviates cases of diarrhea and helps relieve a spastic colon.
Peppermint oil increases bile production in the liver significantly. This trait of Peppermint is likely to be the reason for the traditional application of Peppermint to dissolve gallstones. The peppermint based menthol also results in a lowering of the activity in a liver enzyme known as HMG CoA reductase and this compound may lower the elevated levels of cholesterol thereby causing gallstones to dissolve in the gallbladder. The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a study following the progress of patients taking a propriety product containing chemical constituents comparable to that of Peppermint over a six month trial period.
The production of bile in the liver is increased by peppermint oil as well as the leaf based falconoid to a very significant degree. The traditional use of the herb as a digestive aid is supported to a great extent by this modern evidential confirmation. The peppermint based menthol also results in a lowering of the activity in a liver enzyme known as HMG CoA reductase and this compound may lower the elevated levels of cholesterol.
Peppermint can also be used as a rubefacient. Applying a rubefacient locally stimulates the circulatory system such that capillaries dilate. This in turn causes the skin to become red as blood is drawn outwards from deeper tissues and organs. This relieves congestion and inflammation. Used as a rubefacient and applied directly to the skin relieves the pain and reduces sensitivity in the skin arising as a result of external disorders. Used as a chest rub for the treatment of respiratory infections it brings relief.