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Home :: Mint :: Herbs

Mint Herb - Uses And Side Effects

Mint ...just say the word and cool, refreshing images come to mind. Peppermint and spearmint are the two best known and most widely cultivated members of the fragrant mint family (Labiatae). Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a hybrid of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and watermint (M. aquatica). The essential oils of peppermint and spearmint are extracted from the leaves and flowering tops of these plants. Native to Mediterranean region, and was introduced into Britain by the Romans, being largely cultivated not only by them, but also by the other Mediterranean nations.

The Food and Drug Administration has demoted the oils from nonprescription drug status due to lack of information about their safety and effectiveness as digestive aids.

Common doses of mint

Both peppennint and spearmint are available as liquid extracts, tea, oil, and inhalant preparations. Peppermint oil also comes as enteric-coated capsules. Menthol, the main component in peppennint oil, is an ingredient in several pain-relief lotions, anesthetics, and itch-relief preparations. It also comes as a cough suppressant ointment, lozenge, and throat spray. Experts disagree on the spearmint dose, but recommend the following doses for peppermint:

  • As capsules, 1 to 2 capsules (0.2 milliliter per capsule) taken orally three times daily for irritable bowel syndrome.
  • As spirits (10% oil and 1 % leaf extract), 1 milliliter (20 drops) with water.
  • As a tea, 1 to 1.5 grams (1 tablespoon) of leaves in 160 milliliters of boiling water. Drink two or three times daily.
  • As a topical preparation, apply externally three or four times daily.

Use of mint

Specifically, mint may help to :-

Side effects of mint

Call your health care practitioner if you experience any of these possible side effects of mint:

  • allergic symptoms, such as flushing, headache, heart burn, irritated mucous membranes, muscle tremors, and skin rash (from an internal dose)
  • skin inflammation with external use.

Mint also can cause:

  • throat or airway closure in infants and small children or in adults who drink tea that contains menthol
  • relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and digestive tract muscles
  • worsened symptoms of acid reflux disease and hiatal hernia.

Interactions

Combining herbs with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. Tell your health care practitioner about any prescription or nonprescription drugs you're taking.

Important points to remember

  • Don't use this herb if you're pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Don't give peppermint or spearmint products to infants or small children.
  • Don't swallow mint products if you have gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux) disease.
  • Don't put mentholated products on broken skin or use them on your skin under a heating pad.
  • Keep in mind that the fatal menthol dose in people is roughly 1,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
  • Be aware that menthol can cause allergic reactions in adults and children. Symptoms include hives, skin reddening, and other skin problems.
  • Note that applying a mentholated ointment to an infant's nostrils for cold relief may cause a brief period of unconsciousness.
  • Know that peppermint oil has caused nervous system poisoning and brain lesions in rats fed up to 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily for 28 days.
  • Be aware that medical experts warn against long-term inhalant use of peppermint oil.

What the research shows

Menthol, a peppermint component, generally is considered safe and effective when used externally to relieve local pain and itching. Menthol also is approved as an externally applied cough suppressant and an inhalant.

However, medical experts don't recommend using peppermint or spearmint internally except as a flavoring. Although some people claim these extracts have value in treating some digestive disorders, no studies prove that they're safe or effective-especially for children.

Other names for mint : -

Other names for mint include balm mint, brandy mint, green mint, lamb mint, Our Lady's mint, peppermint, and spearmint.

Products containing mint are sold under such names as Ben-Gay, Rhuli Gel, Robitussin Cough Drops, and Vicks VapoRub.


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