Pregnancy Use

Safe dosages in pregnant women have not been determined; however, external use is likely to be safe.

PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING

• Peppermint oil and/or peppermint leaf extracts can be used for IBS, dyspepsia, flatulence, intestinal colic and biliary disorders. Note, however, that peppermint oil is contraindicated in inflammation of the gall bladder and severe liver disease.

• Although enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may prevent side-effects such as reflux and allow higher doses to be used, traditional extracts of peppermint, including hydro-ethanolic extracts and infusions, may also be effective.

• Peppermint leaf extract combines well with chamomile, caraway, licorice, lemon balm, angelica, St Mary's thistle and the bitter candytuft (Iberis amara) in the treatment of functional dyspepsia (Madisch et al 2001 ).

• Peppermint oil can be used as an inhalation or chest rub for coughs, sinusitis and bronchitis. Commission E approved peppermint oil for internal use in the treatment of respiratory tract inflammation (Blumenthal et al 2000) and hot peppermint leaf infusion is used as a diaphoretic tea in the treatment of colds and influenza.

• Peppermint oil can be inhaled to reduce nausea and may enhance cognitive performance and tactile tasks.

• 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution can be applied externally for tension headaches and applied over affected areas for post-herpetic neuralgia.

ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will this herb do for me?

Peppermint is a safe herb for gastrointestinal disorders, including dyspepsia and IBS. It is also safe for children, particularly as a herbal tea. When will it start to work?

Peppermint will generally have an immediate effect, with the condition continuing to improve with long-term use. Are there any safety issues?

Concentrated peppermint oil preparations may theoretically interact with a number of different medications. It is unlikely any interaction will occur with peppermint tea or simple liquid extracts. Avoid the use of peppermint oil on the face of infants and small Peppermint 920

children.

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