Peppermint Essential Oil
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Peppermint Essential Oil - General Description
Peppermint essential oil is derived from the fresh overground parts of Mentha piperita L. - "Peppermint" - a herbaceous rhizomatous hybrid mint resulting from the cross between water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata).  The oil is extracted by means of steam distillation. 
Peppermint thrives well in moist shaded habitats, multiplying through its roots - since it is sterile and cannot produce seeds. It is renowned for covering the ground with runners in astonishing speed when moist conditions and a rich water supply are present.  Peppermint gives its gifts abundantly to us and is almost "too easy" to grow!
This 30–90-cm-high perennial herb is commercially cultivated and geographically distributed in eastern and northern parts of Europe and the United States. 
Peppermint essential oil has long been employed in therapeutic regimens – one of the earliest known sources of a very potent, fresh, minty aroma for a cooling and invigorating sensation. It has been discovered and retrieved from ancient Egyptian tombs dating back as far as 1000 BC. 
Peppermint essential oil is a colorless, light yellowish, or light greenish-yellow liquid with a distinct, penetrating, minty aroma and a rather pungent taste characteristically followed by a “cold” sensation. It has an acid value of not more than 1.4, a relative density of 0.900–0.916, and a refractive index of 1.457–1.467. 
Peppermint Essential Oil - Uses and Reported Benefits
The cool and minty aroma from peppermint essential oil is as popular as complementary medicine itself, being described not only as “refreshing” but also as “stimulating.” In addition to being a food flavoring used worldwide, peppermint is used for therapeutic purposes. In this regard, peppermint essential oil is largely utilized:
• As an adjunct in the treatment of several general disorders associated with the nervous system and the respiratory tract (e.g., dry cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis, pneumonia)
• To diminish or to completely get rid of apathy, shock, nervous stress, and vertigo
• To relieve pain in cases of muscle aches, toothaches, rheumatism, neuralgia, and painful menstrual cycle. 
Peppermint exerts a number of biological activities in vitro that are of medical or pharmacologic value, as illustrated by an equally great number of research studies. These include being a potent antimicrobial and antiviral, a strong antioxidant and antitumor agent, and an antiallergenic. Moreover, studies using animal models had also showed the relaxation effect of peppermint essential oil on the gastrointestinal (GI) tissue, analgesic and anesthetic effects in the central and peripheral nervous system, immunomodulating actions, and chemopreventive potential. 
Preparing Peppermint Essential Oil
Diluted preparations are advised, and for uses other than aromatherapy, one should carefully dilute peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba, grape seed, olive, or almond oil prior to use. 
A daily dosage of 0.2–0.4 mL of peppermint essential oil taken thrice daily in diluted preparations or suspensions is suggested for digestive disorders. When therapeutic means through inhalation is desired or required, 3–4 drops of peppermint essential oil in water works excellently.  In order to come up with an energizing blend, just add 1 drop each of peppermint essential oil and rosemary oil along with 2 drops of cinnamon oil to a diffuser. For external use, 5–20% of peppermint essential oil in diluted, semisolid, or oily preparation or 5–10% of peppermint essential oil in aqueous ethanol is suggested to be effective. 
Peppermint Essential Oil - Contraindications and Safety
Being a natural essential oil in high concentrations, peppermint essential oil should be used with precaution and care and should normally be kept out of children’s reach, especially infants.
As data on peppermint essential oil’s drug interactions, laboratory test interactions, and teratogenic and non-teratogenic effects on pregnancy are scarce and studies regarding these are few, the administration of peppermint essential oil should at best be avoided among pregnant and lactating women, especially when medical supervision is absent.  More importantly, sensitivity to peppermint essential oil as manifested by gastric complaints has been reported, and preparations intended for internal use should not be given to individuals with gastrointestinal tract or gall bladder inflammation or with impaired liver function. 
Peppermint Essential Oil - Scientific Studies and Research
Schuhmacher, Reichling, and Schnitzler (2003) furnished study results that demonstrated the peppermint essential oil’s potent capability to exert a direct virucidal effect on herpes simplex virus (HSV), as tested in vitro on RC-37 cells using a plaque reduction assay. In addition, high levels of virucidal activity of peppermint essential oil against HSV-1 and HSV-2 in viral suspension tests as well as a reduction in plaque formation by 82% and 92% for HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively, were observed. Also, a time-dependent antiviral activity of about 99% was noted after 3 hours of incubating HSV in peppermint essential oil.  Similarly, Imai et al. (2001) investigated the antibacterial potential and inhibitory action of various essential oils, including peppermint essential oil, on the growth of pathogenic bacteria including Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus. These researchers have established that each strain’s proliferation was suppressed dose-dependently by the essential oil in liquid culture and that each of the essential oil studied displayed bactericidal activity in phosphate-buffered saline.  Schelz, Molnar, and Hohmann (2006) had also studied the antimicrobial and antiplasmid activities of different kinds of essential oils, including peppermint essential oil, and methanol against Gram-positive Staphylococcus epidermidis and Gram-negative Escherichia coli F'lac K12 LE140 and against Saccharomyces cerevisiae 0425 delta/1 and S. cerevisiae 0425 52C strains. Data from this study had revealed that peppermint essential oil exerts antimicrobial activity and, together with menthol, exhibits additive synergy with oxytetracycline,  a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
Inhaling peppermint essential oil is also considered an effective preventive measure to diminish recurrences and exacerbations of infiltrative pulmonary tuberculosis, swiftly positively reverting the inflammatory response in pulmonary tuberculosis as evidenced by the small residual changes. 
Assessing cognitive performance using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized assessment battery, Moss M., Hewitt, Moss L., and Wesnes (2008) provided further evidence on the memory-enhancing and processing speed–lengthening properties of peppermint essential oil aroma, as uncovered in 144 healthy volunteers randomly assigned to different conditions in this study. The results of the study had also demonstrated that peppermint increases alertness.  Combining peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and ethanol in treatment has been shown to increase cognitive performance and to produce a muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effect, with little influence on pain sensitivity however. On another note, combining peppermint oil and ethanol results in a significant analgesic effect with a reduction in sensitivity to headache. 
Peppermint Essential Oil - Molecular Components and Chemistry
McKay and Blumberg (2006) reviewed the evidence-based research on the bioactivity of peppermint; in their review, it was identified that quite a good number of studies report rosmarinic acid and various flavonoids, principally eriocitrin, luteolin, and hesperidin, as among the most significant phenolics in the leaves of peppermint. The main volatile components of the peppermint essential oil are menthol and menthone. 
Peppermint Essential Oil - References
 Peppermint. Retrieved 12 March 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppermint
 World Health Organization Geneva. (2002). WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants (Volume 2). Malta: WHO. Retrieved 12 March 2013 from http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545372.pdf
 Peppermint 100% Pure Essential Oil - 30 ml (Plantlife). Retrieved 12 March 2013 from http://www.amazon.com/Peppermint-100-Pure-Essential-Oil/dp/B00181CFIK
 McKay D. L. & Blumberg J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy Research, 20(8): 619–633. Retrieved 12 March 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16767798
 NOW Foods Peppermint Oil. Now Foods. Retrieved 12 March 2013 from http://www.amazon.com/NOW-Foods-Peppermint-Oil-ounce/dp/B00028MKRQ
 Blumenthal M. et al. (Eds.). (1998). The complete German Commission E monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council.
 Schuhmacher A., Reichling J., & Schnitzler P. (2003). Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Phytomedicine, 10(6–7): 504–510. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13678235
 Imai H., Osawa K., Yasuda H., Hamashima H., Arai T., & Sasatsu M. (2001). Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Microbios, 106 Suppl 1: 31–39. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from ttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11549238
 Schelz Z., Molnar J., & Hohmann J. (2006).Antimicrobial and antiplasmid activities of essential oils. Fitoterapia, 77(4): 279–285. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.mendeley.com/catalog/antimicrobial-antiplasmid-activities-essential-oils/
 Shkurupi V. A. et al. (2006).Use of essential oil of peppermint (Mentha piperita) in the complex treatment of patients with infiltrative pulmonary tuberculosis. Probl Tuberk Bolezn Legk, (9): 43–45. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/17128800/?i=3&from=/18711811/related
 Moss M., Hewitt S., Moss L., & Wesnes K. (2008). Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. International Journal of Neuroscience, 118(1): 59–77. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18041606
 Göbel H., Schmidt G., Dworschak M., Stolze H., & Heuss D. (1995). Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms. Phytomedicine, 2(2): 93–102. doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(11)80053-X. Retrieved 13 March 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23196150
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