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INTRODUCTION

Activities:

Antioxidant, analgesic, anesthetic, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antipruritic, antiseptic, cooling, radioprotective1

Important Chemical Components:

Leaves, phenolic constituents: Rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, eriocitrin, luteolin, rutin, and hesperidin

Other leaf components: Palmitic acid, linoelic acid, linolenic acid, and α-tocopherol

Essential oil constituents: Menthol, menthone, menthyl acetate, isomenthone, menthofuran, eucalyptol (1,8-cineole), eugenol, limonene, pulegone, carvone, β-myrcene, and β-caryophyllene2–4

Origin Classification:

Peppermint is natural. Menthol is an organic compound obtained from peppermint or other mint oils or produced synthetically.5

Personal Care Category:

Antioxidant, cooling

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:

ORNW and DRNW

SOURCE

Mentha piperita, better known as peppermint, is a member of the Labiatae family and a popular herb used worldwide. A hybrid of Mentha spicata (spearmint) and Mentha aquatica (water mint), peppermint is used in numerous forms (i.e., oil, leaf, leaf extract, and leaf water), with the oil as the most versatile and most used.2,3In fact, peppermint oil is used in food, cosmetic, personal hygiene, and pharmaceutical products. Peppermint has long been known for its beneficial gastrointestinal effects and has a well-established record of antimicrobial, antifungal, and analgesic activity.6,7 Topical preparations of peppermint oil are used to confer antipruritic, cooling, and calming effects to treat inflammation and cutaneous irritation.2 Menthol (C10H20O) is a naturally occurring monocyclic terpene alcohol derived from M. piperita as well as other mint oils,8 and has been associated with several health benefits. Recently, anticancer properties have been attributed to menthol.9

HISTORY

The use of peppermint for culinary and medical purposes dates back to ancient Greece and Rome,10 though there is also evidence to suggest that peppermint has been cultivated for medicinal purposes in Japan for over 2,000 years (Table 63-1).11,12 Most sources appear to point to Mediterranean origins. The term Mentha is thought to be rooted in Greek mythology, referring to the nymph pursued by Pluto and subsequently trampled into the ground, transforming her into mint, by Pluto’s jealous wife Persephone.2 M. piperita was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and was cited in the pharmacopoeias of Iceland in the 1200s.6,10

TABLE 63-1Pros and Cons of Peppermint

A perennial herb native to Mediterranean Europe but disseminated through travel, trade, and conquest and now cultivated globally, peppermint has been used in various traditional and folk medicines through Europe and Asia. Peppermint entered general medical usage in Western Europe in the 1700s, and the first commercial crops were grown in England around 1750.6,10,13 Known for many years through traditional medicine as a stimulant as ...

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