Peppermint, or mentha piperita, is an herb with many uses and therapeutic applications. Its sharp menthol odor, refreshing flavor, and cooling sensation have found it a home in many products including bath preparations, mouthwashes, toothpastes, and ointments. Although peppermint oil is frequently cited as the source of peppermint’s benefits, compounds within the leaf have also proven to be beneficial.
Peppermint Leaf and Harmful Organisms
Peppermint is toxic to certain harmful organisms and has demonstrated antimicrobial and antibacterial activity.  The British Embassy in Reykjavik Iceland discovered that a mixture containing peppermint essential oil was found to be effective for addressing head lice infestation.  Research shows that methanol extracts of peppermint are substantially resistant to fungus and are effective at halting fungal spores.  Perhaps most interesting was a study by Brazil’s Universidade Federal da Bahi in which peppermint leaf extract was used on a type of parasitic larvae typically found in the intestines of goats. Researchers noted that peppermint leaf extract produced a reduction of infective larvae by over 95%. 
What are Other Benefits of Peppermint Leaf?
Peppermint tea, brewed from the plant’s leaves, is one of the most widely consumed herbal teas. The leaves have a high flavonoid content and one bag can provide a substantial amount of antioxidants. 
Peppermint has traditional folk medicine use as a pain reliever and research has substantiated the assertion. 
In animals, peppermint leaves have been observed to protect the liver against certain toxins. 
Peppermint may play a role in relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, vecause peppermint has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue (usually cited to provide sore throat relief), it has even been reported effective when administered via enema to patients experiencing colonic spasms during barium enemas. 
Some studies even suggest peppermint may have anticarcinogenic effects. 
Peppermint and the Liver
Peppermint supports liver function by improving the flow of bile from the liver to the gallbladder. By increasing the amount of bile flow, peppermint leaf positively supports digestion by helping to break down fats and reduce bad cholesterol. Decreased cholesterol levels reduce the work load required from the liver. If your liver is sluggish, peppermint may provide a boost.
Using Peppermint Leaf
Peppermint leaf can be used as a flavoring in beverages or when you’re cooking. Mint leaf is a fantastic and refreshing addition to salads and some culinary styles readily include peppermint leaf in recipes. It’s no wonder, in addition to providing great flavor, peppermint contains vitamin A and C, iron, potassium, and fiber, and it’s a low calorie additive. Although many people enjoy peppermint tea, peppermint leaves can add flavor to drinks or even give purified water a little extra zest. Some people even chew peppermint leaves as a means to naturally freshen their breath. Regardless of where you find use for peppermint in your life, rest assured it’ll be an addition you enjoy.
Does peppermint leaf play an important role in your life? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
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