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Updated: 2017-07-29T19:16Z
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Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
Scientific classification
Species:M. × piperita
Binomial name
Mentha × piperita

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


Peppermint flowers
1887 illustration from Köhlers; Medicinal Plants

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 that grows to be 30–90 cm (12–35 in) tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bear fibrous roots. The leaves can be 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 1.5–4 cm (0.59–1.57 in) broad. They are dark green with reddish veins, and they have 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 season lasts from mid- to late summer. The chromosome number is variable, with 2n counts of 66, 72, 84, and 120 recorded.[7][8][9] 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 runners. If placed, it can grow almost anywhere.[4][9]

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,[10] and the United States[11] in the Great Lakes region, noted since 1843.[12]


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 carboxyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate.[13] 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.[14]

Culinary and other uses

Fresh or dried peppermint leaves are often used alone or with other herbs in herbal teas (tisanes, infusions).

Peppermint is used for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste, and 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.[15]


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 × piperita subsp. nothosubsp. piperita[16]) and menthone.[17]

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.[18]

Medical uses

Freeze-dried leaves

Peppermint oil is under preliminary research for its potential as a short-term treatment for irritable bowel syndrome[19][20] and has been used in traditional medicine for a limited number of minor ailments[21][22][23] that remain scientifically unconfirmed for effectiveness.[24] Peppermint oil may also act as a carminative, cholagogue, antibacterial, and secretolytic, and it has a cooling action.[25] Externally, peppermint oil has been used for muscle pain, nerve pain and relief from itching.[24]

High doses of peppermint oil (500 mg) can cause mucosal irritation and mimic episodes of heartburn.[24][25] Usage of peppermint is thought to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, thus causing acid reflux, but a study disproved this theory, making peppermint safe to use as a flavoring in antacid medication.[26]

The aroma of peppermint has been studied for possible memory- and alertness-enhancing properties.[24][27]

Other uses

Peppermint oil is also used in construction and plumbing to test for the tightness of pipes and disclose leaks by its odor.[28]


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.[29][30] In addition to that, the toxicities of the plant seem to vary from one cultivar to another[31] and are dose dependent.[29][32] This is probably attributed from the content level of pulegone.[33]

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.[34]

When peppermint oil products are taken with antacid, they dissolve too quickly, and they can sometimes cause heartburn and nausea.[24] 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 also contains terpenoids and flavonoids such as eriocitrin, hesperidin, and kaempferol 7-O-rutinoside.[36]

List of the cultivars

The Mentha × piperita hybrid known as “chocolate mint”

A number of cultivars have been selected for garden use:

  • Mentha × piperita 'Candymint'. Stems reddish.[37]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Chocolate Mint'. Flowers open from bottom up; reminiscent of flavour in Andes Chocolate Mints, a popular confection.[38][39][40]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Citrata'. Includes a number of varieties including Eau De Cologne Mint,[41] Grapefruit Mint, Lemon Mint,[42] and Orange Mint. Leaves aromatic, hairless.
  • Mentha × piperita 'Crispa'. Leaves wrinkled.[43]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Lavender Mint'.[44]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Lime Mint'. Foliage lime-scented.[45][46]
  • Mentha × piperita 'Variegata'. Leaves mottled green and pale yellow.[47]
  • "Mentha suaveolens" 'Apple Mint'. Foliage is light green and hairy. Used as a ground cover and for cooking.[48]

Commercial cultivars may include

Standardization of its products and services

  • ISO 676:1995 - contains the information about the nomenclature of the variety and cultivars[51]
  • ISO 5563:1984 - a specification for its dried leaves of Mentha piperita Linnaeus[52]
  • Peppermint oil - ISO 856:2006[53]

See also


  1. ^ WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants: Volume 2 (PDF). Geneva: World Health Organization. 2002. pp. 188, 199. ISBN 92-4-154537-2. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  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 Flora of NW Europe: Mentha × piperita Archived September 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  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. ^ "Mentha x piperita - Peppermint - Flora of Northwest Europe". 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-47494-5.[page needed]
  9. ^ a b Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2[page needed]
  10. ^ Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk: Mentha x piperita
  11. ^ USDA Plants Profile: Mentha x piperita
  12. ^ "List of invasive species in the Great Lakes Great Lakes United / Union Saint-Laurent Grands Lacs". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  13. ^ Thomson Healthcare (2007). PDR for Herbal Medicines (4th ed.). p. 640. ISBN 978-1-56363-678-3. 
  14. ^ Leung, A. Y. (1980). Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in food, drugs and cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 231. 
  15. ^ R. Eccles (1994). "Menthol and Related Cooling Compounds". J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 46 (8): 618–630. PMID 7529306. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.1994.tb03871.x. 
  16. ^ Duke's Data Base
  17. ^ Robert Irving Krieger (2001). Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology: Principles. Academic Press. p. 823. ISBN 978-0-12-426260-7. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  18. ^ Schmidt, E.; Bail, S.; Buchbauer, G.; Stoilova, I.; Atanasova, T.; Stoyanova, A.; Krastanov, A.; Jirovetz, L. (2009). "Chemical composition, olfactory evaluation and antioxidant effects of essential oil from Mentha x piperita". Natural product communications. 4 (8): 1107–1112. 
  19. ^ Khanna R, MacDonald JK, Levesque BG (July 2014). "Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 48 (6): 505–12. PMID 24100754. doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182a88357. 
  20. ^ Ruepert L, Quartero AO, de Wit NJ, van der Heijden GJ, Rubin G, Muris JW (August 2011). "Bulking agents, antispasmodics and antidepressants for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 8: CD003460. PMID 21833945. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003460.pub3. 
  21. ^ "Peppermint". Mosby's Handbook of Herbs & Natural Supplements. Credo Reference: Elsevier Health Sciences. 2010. 
  22. ^ "Peppermint". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. 
  23. ^ Heather Boon; Michael Smith (2004). Bob Hilderley, ed. The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to the 50 Most Common Medicinal Herbs (2nd ed.). Canada: Robert Rose. pp. 227–229. ISBN 0-7788-0081-4. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "Peppermint oil". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Keifer, D.; Ulbricht, C.; Abrams, T.; Basch, E.; Giese, N.; Giles, M.; DeFranco Kirkwood, C.; Miranda, M.; Woods, J. (2007). "Peppermint (Mentha xpiperita): An evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration" (PDF). Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 7 (2): 91–143. doi:10.1080/j157v07n02_07. 
  26. ^ Bulat, R.; Fachnie, E.; Chauhan, U.; Chen, Ying; Tougas, G. (1999-06-01). "Lack of effect of spearmint on lower oesophageal sphincter function and acid reflux in healthy volunteers". Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 13 (6): 805–812. ISSN 1365-2036. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2036.1999.00528.x. 
  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. PMID 18041606. doi:10.1080/00207450601042094. Peppermint was found to enhance memory whereas ylang-ylang impaired it, and lengthened processing speed. In terms of subjective mood, peppermint increased alertness and ylang-ylang decreased it, but significantly increased calmness 
  28. ^ M. G. Kains (1912). American Agriculturist, ed. Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation Harvesting Curing and Uses (English). Orange Judd Company. 
  29. ^ 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. PMID 15027812. doi:10.1191/0960327104ht412oa. 
  30. ^ 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. PMID 17371529. doi:10.1111/j.1742-7843.2006.00030.x. 
  31. ^ 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. PMID 12755472. doi:10.1191/0960327103ht332oa. 
  32. ^ 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. PMID 15941008. doi:10.1191/0748233704th206oa. 
  33. ^ 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. doi:10.1002/jsfa.2740311104. 
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ ib id
  36. ^ Dolzhenko, Yuliya; Bertea, Cinzia M.; Occhipinti, Andrea; Bossi, Simone; Maffei, Massimo E. (2010). "UV-B modulates the interplay between terpenoids and flavonoids in peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.)". Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology. 100 (2): 67–75. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2010.05.003. 
  37. ^ The Herbarist. Herb Society of America. 1997. p. 39. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  38. ^ "Mentha piperita cv. Chocolate Mint". Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  39. ^ Dolf De Rovira (28 February 2008). Dictionary of Flavors. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 420–. ISBN 978-0-470-38484-8. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  40. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Chocolate Mint' : peppermint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  41. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Citrata' : eau de cologne mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  42. ^ "Mentha x piperita var. citrata : lemon mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  43. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Crispa' : eau de cologne mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  44. ^ "HortiPlex Plant Database: Info, Images and Links on Thousands of Plants". Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  45. ^ Harrowsmith Country Life. Camden House Pub. 1990. p. 48. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  46. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Lime Mint' : eau de cologne mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  47. ^ "Mentha x piperita 'Variegata' : variegated mint". 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  48. ^ "Apple Mint". 2013-02-23. Retrieved 2017-07-29. 
  49. ^ 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 × piperita)". Retrieved 6 June 2009. 
  50. ^ a b c Jullien, Frédéric; Diemer, Florence; Colson, Monique; Faure, Olivier (1998). "An optimising protocol for protoplast regeneration of three peppermint cultivars ( Mentha x piperita)". Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture. 54 (3): 153–9. doi:10.1023/A:1006185103897. 
  51. ^ International Organization for Standardization. "ISO 676:1995 Spices and condiments -- Botanical nomenclature". Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  52. ^ International Organization for Standardization. "ISO 5563:1984 Dried peppermint (Mentha piperita Linnaeus) -- Specification". Retrieved 7 June 2009. 
  53. ^ International Organization for Standardization. "ISO 856:2008 Oil of peppermint (Mentha x piperita L.)". Retrieved 7 June 2009. 

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