Common Name: Peppermint
Scientific Name: Mentha arvensis
Family: Libiatae or Lamiaceae
Origin: Argentina, USA, Brazil, France, Italy, Morocco, Bulgaria, Holland, Spain, Germany, England, India and Australia
Synonyms: Mentha piperita, mentha arvensis, Mentha spicata and Mentha aquatica
Essential Oil Properties and Characteristics
Peppermint oil is a pale-yellow or pale-olive-coloured liquid with a fresh, strong grassy-minty odour with a deep balsamic-sweet undertone and a sweet, clean dry-out note.
Origin and History
Peppermint is native to southern Europe and was brought to the USA in the early 19th century. Peppermint is a perennial herb, growing to the height of 30 to 100cm. Mentha piperita belongs to a genus consisting of some 20 varieties and hybrids.
The major components of the different mints are menthol and pulegone. Cornmint, also referred to as Japanese mint, is cheaper to produce than peppermint and spearmint and is often used as a 'blender' in mint flavours and as an adulterant in peppermint oil. Cornmint is considered more toxic than peppermint oil as it has higher pulegone content.
Peppermint oil is extensively used in food flavouring, as a fragrance component in toothpaste, mouth washes, soaps, detergents and perfumes.
Method of Extraction
Peppermint oil is steam-distilled from the partially dried herb of M. piperita.
Precautions During Use (Contraindications)
Peppermint oil is non-toxic, non-irritant and may occasionally be sensitising. Peppermint should not be used on the face, particularly the nose, of infants and small children.
Peppermint essential oil has cooling, invigorating, clearing, refreshing and antiseptic properties. It is refreshing to the nasal passages when used as an inhalant. Peppermint essential oil is mildly antiseptic and helps purify the skin. It is useful in maintaining healthy digestion and also as an insect repellent.
Peppermint essential oil blends well with lavender, chamomile, lemon, rosemary, bergamot and eucalyptus.
Source: Battaglia, S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2003, ISBN 0-6464-2896-9.