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Peppermint is a plant. The leaf and oil are used as medicine.
Peppermint is used for the common cold, cough, inflammation of the mouth and throat, sinus infections, and respiratory infections. It is also used for digestive problems including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cramps of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and bile ducts, upset stomach, diarrhea, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, and gas.
Some people also use peppermint for menstrual problems, liver and gallbladder complaints, preventing spasms during endoscopy procedures, and as a stimulant.
Peppermint oil is applied to the skin for headache, muscle pain, nerve pain, toothache, inflammation of the mouth, joint conditions, itchiness, allergic rash, bacterial and viral infections, relaxing the colon during barium enemas, and for repelling mosquitoes.
Some people inhale peppermint oil for treating symptoms of cough and colds, and as a painkiller.
In foods and beverages, peppermint is a common flavoring agent.
In manufacturing, peppermint oil is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics, and as a flavoring agent in pharmaceuticals.
In 1990, the FDA banned the sale of peppermint oil as an over-the-counter drug for use as a digestive aid because its effectiveness had not been proven. Today, peppermint is sold as a dietary supplement. Unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements do not have to be proven effective to the satisfaction of the FDA in order to be marketed. Also, unlike over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements are not allowed to claim that they prevent or treat illness.
Peppermint oil seems to reduce spasms in the digestive tract. When applied to the skin, it can cause surface warmth, which relieves pain beneath the skin.