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Peppermint is an herb that grows in Europe and North America. It has been used to ease discomfort from digestion problems and nausea. The leaves can be taken as a pill, powder or extract. The leaves can also be made into a tea. Peppermint oil is most often used for medicine and can be taken in pill form, used on the skin, or diffused in the air.


0.2 to 0.4 milliliters oil 3 times daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) —likely to ease symptoms and improve quality of life B1-B5

May Be Effective

  • Functional dyspepsia —may ease pain and improve quality of life A1-A3
  • Neck pain —may improve pain when used in a cream containing additional herbs C1

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Postoperative nausea and vomiting D1,D2

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use peppermint on the skin and to take peppermint orally in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period.E1-E4 Large doses should be avoided, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding.E5


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.



A. Functional Dyspepsia

A1. Korterink JJ, Rutten JM, et al. Pharmacologic treatment in pediatric functional abdominal pain disorders: a systematic review. J Pediatr. 2015 Feb;166(2):424-31.e6.

A2. Anheyer D, Frawley J, et al. Herbal Medicines for Gastrointestinal Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics. 2017 Jun;139(6). pii: e20170062.

A3. Rich G, Shah A, et al. A randomized placebo-controlled trial on the effects of Menthacarin, a proprietary peppermint- and caraway-oil-preparation, on symptoms and quality of life in patients with functional dyspepsia. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2017 Nov;29(11).

B. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

B1. Merat S, Khalili S, et al. The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome. Dig Dis Sci. 2010 May;55(5):1385-1390.

B2. Alam MS, Roy PK, et al. Efficacy of Peppermint oil in diarrhea predominant IBS - a double blind randomized placebo - controlled study. Mymensingh Med J. 2013 Jan;22(1):27-30.

B3. Khanna R, MacDonald JK, et al. Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014;48(6):505-512.

B4. Cash BD, Epstein MS, et al. A Novel Delivery System of Peppermint Oil Is an Effective Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms. Dig Dis Sci. 2016 Feb;61(2):560-571.

B5. Alammar N, Wang L, et al. The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019;19(1):21.

C. Neck Pain

C1. Ou MC, Lee YF, et al. The effectiveness of essential oils for patients with neck pain: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Oct;20(10):771-779.

D. Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting

D1. Lane B, Cannella K, et al. Examination of the effectiveness of peppermint aromatherapy on nausea in women post C-section. J Holist Nurs. 2012 Jun;30(2):90-104; quiz 105-106.

D2. Hines S, Steels E, et al. Aromatherapy for treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Mar 10;3:CD007598.

E. Safety

E1. Dresser GK, Wacher V, et al. Evaluation of peppermint oil and ascorbyl palmitate as inhibitors of cytochrome P4503A4 activity in vitro and in vivo. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2002 Sep;72(3):247-255.

E2. Posadzki P, Alotaibi A, et al. Adverse effects of aromatherapy: a systematic review of case reports and case series. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2012 Jan 1;24(3):147-161.

E3. Izzo AA. Interactions between herbs and conventional drugs: overview of the clinical data. Med Princ Pract. 2012;21(5):404-428.

E4. Jack AR, Norris PL, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis to plant extracts in cosmetics. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2013 Sep;32(3):140-146.

E5. hmed M, Hwang JH, et al. Safety classification of herbal medicines used among pregnant women in Asian countries: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Nov 14;17(1):489.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 5/8/2020