The leaves in addition to flavonoids, phenolic acids and triterpenes, contain an essential oil made up mostly of menthol and menton. Popular medicine identifies Peppermint as the digestive remedy par excellence
Common uses of peppermint
Mint (Mentha piperita) is a hybrid obtained from Mentha rotundifolia and Mentha aquatica ; also used in gastronomy, the plant supplies raw materials especially for the liqueur industry, as the extracts obtained from the leaves carry out an “eupeptic” activity, that is they favor digestion, and as such, therefore, enter into the composition of many bitters. Mint enters as a corrector of taste in numerous foods, herbal teas, galenic preparations and drugs, even if folk medicine identifies it as the digestive remedy par excellence.
The substances contained in the Peppermint
However, scientific research has provided a wealth of valuable information to define its content, biological activities and therapeutic indications, recognizing them as a medicinal plant in all respects. The leaves, in fact, in addition to flavonoids, phenolic acids and triterpenes, contain an essential oil that represents the heart of the extract from the pharmacological point of view, consisting mainly of menthol (35-55%) and menton (10-35 %).
The pharmacological properties of Peppermint
Improperly considered as a “tonic” of the nervous system, a sort of psychostimulant, in reality the following pharmacological properties have been recognized at Mint:
Activity on the digestive and respiratory and nervous systems:
- antispastic activity on the smooth muscle cells of the digestive and respiratory systems ;
- decongestant and balsamic activity , that is fluidifying the secretions of the respiratory system. One of the essential constituents of the essential oil that contains the leaves, menthol, blocks the calcium channels, thus acting as an inhibitor of the excitability of the intestinal nervous tissue.
- Because of its spasmolytic activity, the essential oil of the plant undergoes experimentation in a classic intestinal disorder, irritable bowel syndrome.
- The available data say that the essential oil of mint has its own effectiveness in reducing the symptoms (tension, pain and swelling).
Nervous system and bronchi:
But the relaxing effects on the enteric nervous system are accompanied, as we have seen above, with analogous effects on the nervous system of the bronchi and lungs.
- There are numerous clinical studies that confirm the positive effects of peppermint essential oil also in the hepatobiliary district diseases , with particular reference to the dyskinesia of the gallbladder and to gallstones, for the moderate choleretic effect and for the antispastic activity it exercises, favoring the flow of bile through the common bile duct.
- There is no confirmation of use in cases of insomnia or other neuropsychic disorders, such as psychophysical asthenia.
Peppermint essential oil
The essential oil is well tolerated also by subjects suffering from peptic ulcer, for which, indeed, it constitutes a therapeutic complement; in these patients, dye and fluid extract are contraindicated. In the literature, cases of deterioration are reported in subjects suffering from reflux oesophagitis; no toxic effects on the kidneys or liver are reported.