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(Redirected from Mentha × piperita)

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Peppermint (Mentha × piperita, also known as Mentha balsamea Wild.)<ref name=smsm>Template:Cite book</ref> is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint.<ref>The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs, Alex Frampton, The Reader's Digest Association, 2009</ref> Indigenous to Europe and the Middle East,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> the plant is now widely spread and cultivated in many regions of the world.<ref name=empp>Euro+Med Plantbase Project: Mentha × piperita Template:Webarchive</ref> It is occasionally found in the wild with its parent species.<ref name=empp/><ref name=fnwe>Flora of NW Europe: Mentha × piperita Template:Webarchive</ref>


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,<ref name=cl>Linnaeus, C. (1753). Species Plantarum 2: 576–577.</ref> but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid.<ref name=harley>Harley, R. M. (1975). Mentha L. In: Stace, C. A., ed. Hybridization and the flora of the British Isles page 387.</ref> It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant that grows to be Template:Convert tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bear fibrous roots. The leaves can be Template:Convert long and Template:Convert 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, Template:Convert long, with a four-lobed corolla about Template:Convert 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.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=rhs>Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan. Template:ISBN.Template:Page needed</ref><ref name=blamey>Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Template:ISBNTemplate:Page needed</ref> 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.<ref name=fnwe/><ref name=blamey/>

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,<ref name=pier>Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk: Mentha x piperita</ref> and the United States<ref name=usda>USDA Plants Profile: Mentha x piperita</ref> in the Great Lakes region, noted since 1843.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


Peppermint grown in a pot outside a house

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.


A number of cultivars have been selected for garden use:

Commercial cultivars may include


In 2014, world production of peppermint was 92,296 tonnes, led by Morocco with 92% of the world total reported by FAOSTAT of the United Nations.<ref name="faostat14">Template:Cite web</ref> Argentina accounted for 8% of the world total.<ref name=faostat14/>

In the United States, Oregon and Washington produce most of the country's peppermint,<ref name="osu">Template:Cite web</ref> the leaves of which are processed for the essential oil to produce flavorings mainly for chewing gum and toothpaste.<ref name="pihl">Template:Cite web</ref>

Chemical constituents

Peppermint has a high menthol content. The oil also contains menthone and carboxyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> 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.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Peppermint contains terpenoids and flavonoids such as eriocitrin, hesperidin, and kaempferol 7-O-rutinoside.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>


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<ref>Duke's Data Base http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/highchem.plTemplate:Dead link</ref>) and menthone.<ref name="Krieger2001">Template:Cite book</ref> It is known to repel some pest insects, including mosquitos, and has uses in organic gardening.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

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.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Research and health effects

Peppermint oil is under preliminary research for its potential as a short-term treatment for irritable bowel syndrome,<ref name=Khanna2014>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref name=Ruepert2011>Template:Cite journal</ref> and has supposed uses in traditional medicine for minor ailments.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="mlp">Template:Cite web</ref> Peppermint oil and leaves have a cooling effect when used topically for muscle pain, nerve pain, relief from itching, or as a fragrance.<ref name=mlp/><ref name="keifer">Template:Cite journal</ref> High oral doses of peppermint oil (500 mg) can cause mucosal irritation and mimic heartburn.<ref name=mlp/><ref name=keifer/> As an aroma, peppermint may have memory- and alertness-enhancing properties.<ref name=mlp/><ref name="Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K.">Template:Cite journal</ref>

Culinary and other uses

Fresh or dried peppermint leaves are often used alone in peppermint tea or with other herbs in herbal teas (tisanes, infusions). Peppermint is used for flavouring ice cream, candy, fruit preserves, alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, toothpaste, and some shampoos, soaps and skin care products.<ref name=osu/><ref name=pihl/>

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.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Peppermint oil is also used in construction and plumbing to test for the tightness of pipes and disclose leaks by its odor.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>


Medicinal uses of peppermint have not been approved as effective or safe by the US Food and Drug Administration.<ref name="drugs">Template:Cite web</ref> With caution that the concentration of the peppermint constituent pulegone should not exceed 1% (140 mg), peppermint preparations are considered safe by the European Medicines Agency when used in topical formulations for adult subjects.<ref name="ema">Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> Diluted peppermint essential oil is safe for oral intake when only a few drops are used.<ref name=mlp/><ref name=ema/>

Although peppermint is commonly available as a herbal supplement, there are no established, consistent manufacturing standards for it, and some peppermint products may be contaminated with toxic metals or other substituted compounds.<ref name=drugs/> Skin rashes, irritation, or an allergic reaction may result from applying peppermint oil to the skin,<ref name=drugs/> and its use on the face or chest of young children may cause side effects if the oil menthol is inhaled.<ref name=mlp/><ref name=ema/> A common side effect from oral intake of peppermint oil or capsules is heartburn.<ref name=drugs/> Oral use of peppermint products may have adverse effects when used with iron supplements, cyclosporine, medicines for heart conditions or high blood pressure, or medicines to decrease stomach acid.<ref name=drugs/>


See also

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External links

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