Ingredient Spotlight: Peppermint – Isagenix Health

Peppermint is a perennial herb — meaning it lives more than two years — native to Europe and Asia, naturalized in the northern U.S. and Canada, and now cultivated in many parts of the world. The herb is best known for its flavor and fragrance. Peppermint leaves, both fresh and dried, and peppermint essential oil are used in many food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical products, including confectionaries, chewing gum, toothpaste, and medicine.

Origin and Botany of Peppermint

Despite its widespread use and various applications, peppermint is not an ancient herb and does not breed true from the seed. The plant originated in 1696 in England as a natural hybrid of two herbs in the Lamiaceae family, spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) and water mint (Mentha aquatica L.). Peppermint’s scientific name is Mentha x piperita L. The herb has stalked, smooth, dark green leaves and blunt, oblong clusters of pinkish-lavender flowers (1, 2, 16).

Peppermint Essential Oil Health Benefits and Clinical Studies

Peppermint has multiple uses and health benefits. It’s a good antioxidant, antiseptic, and nutritional and digestive aid. It may help with swelling and pain when applied topically (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 14). Peppermint oil has the peculiar ability to change sensation on the skin and oral mucosa (inside of the mouth), which can soothe the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract (1, 2, 5, 9, 15).

Clinical trials have shown that peppermint oil has great promise when it comes to treating hard-to-manage digestive issues (2, 9, 15). More than 10 clinical trials have been conducted to appraise the oil’s effects. Nine studies evaluated 726 patients who met specific scientific inclusion criteria. Five trials appraised the effectiveness of equivalent doses of peppermint oil within different application regimens. Among these studies, five randomized, placebo-controlled trials showed a global improvement in digestive symptoms after using peppermint oil. Altogether, the studies concluded that peppermint oil was significantly superior to a placebo for global improvement of digestive symptoms (2, 9, 15).

Peppermint oil also enhanced memory and increases alertness following inhalation in healthy male and female subjects (10). Furthermore, a mixture of essential oils including peppermint reduced perceived mental exhaustion and moderate burnout in a small pilot study (11). Enhanced attention and performance on visual vigilance tasks have also been noted with peppermint aroma (1). Externally, the oil was found useful for helping with mental clarity (1, 2).

The Chemistry of Menthol, The Main Chemical in Peppermint Oil

Chemicals found naturally in the peppermint plant include phenols and fragrant terpenes, especially in the leaves. Terpenes are selectively extracted for essential oil via steam distillation from fresh leaves. Peppermint oil’s main volatile constituent, comprising 33 to 60 percent of the oil, is menthol, a substance long used as a soothing balm. When applied topically in the oral mucous membrane, menthol alleviates minor throat soreness and mouth irritation caused by canker sores.

Menthol also activates the cold receptors on the skin, producing a chilling effect when taken orally or applied topically. It does not actually modify the temperature of the skin, but merely generates the feeling of temperature change. Other volatile components of peppermint oil include:

  • Menthone: 15-32 percent.
  • Isomenthone: 2-8 percent.
  • 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol): 5-13 percent.
  • Menthyl acetate: 2-11 percent.
  • Menthofuran: 1-10 percent.
  • Limonene: 1-7 percent (12).

The phenolic constituents of peppermint leaves include rosmarinic acid (present in rosemary) and several flavonoids, including eriocitrin, luteolin, and hesperidin, which have recognized antioxidant and cellular protection effects (12). Luteolin is a well-known flavone that helps support cardiovascular health and provides other nutritional benefits (16).

Peppermint: Naturally Uplifting and Cooling

In conclusion, peppermint provides good nutritional support due to its digestive, antiseptic, and sensory effects. It also has soothing properties, possibly due to modulation of cytokine production. Dietary intake of peppermint can affect the gut microbiome and support gut comfort (15). Peppermint oil may be the right solution for those seeking a naturally uplifting yet calming effect, improved digestion, or a post-workout cooling sensation.

References

  1. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytother Res. 2006 Aug;20(8):619-33.
  2. Aetheroleum Menthae Piperitae, In WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants, Vol 2, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; 1999.
  3. Zheng W, Wang SY. Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49(11):5165-70.
  4. Inoue T, Sugimoto Y, Masuda H, Kamei C. Antiallergic effect of flavonoid glycosides obtained from Mentha piperita L. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002;25(2):256-9.
  5. Iscan G, Kirimer N, Kurkcuoglu M, Husnu Can Baser K, Demirci F. Antimicrobial screening of Mentha piperita essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(14):3943-6.
  6. Mahmood SA, Abbas NA, Rojas RL. Effects of aqueous extracts of peppermint, fennel, dill and cumin on isolated rabbit duodenum. U Aden J Nat Appl Sci. 2003;7:377–383.
  7. Arakawa T, Shibata M, Hosomi K et al. Anti-allergic effects of peppermint oil, chicle and jelutong. Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. 1992;33:569–575.
  8. Atta AH, Alkofahi A. Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of some Jordanian medicinal plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;60(2):117-24.
  9. Khanna R, MacDonald JK, Levesque BG. Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014;48(6):505-12.
  10. Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Int J Neurosci. 2008;118(1):59-77.
  11. Varney E, Buckle J. Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2013;19(1):69-71.
  12. Grigoleit HG, Grigoleit P. Pharmacology and preclinical pharmacokinetics of peppermint oil. Phytomed. 2005;12(8):612-6.
  13. Khan IA, Abourashed EA. Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. Third edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 2010.
  14. Shams R, Oldfield EC, Copare J, Johnson DA. Peppermint Oil: Clinical Uses in the Treatment of Gastrointestinal Diseases. JSM Gastroenterol Hepatol 3025, 3(1): 1036.
  15. Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler’s Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, 4th Edition. New York: Haworth Press; 1999.

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Is Poor Digestion Sabotaging Your Health and Weight Loss?

Not only does the nutritional makeup of the food you eat matter for your health, but also how well your body digests that food. What’s more, digestive problems are more common than you might think.

Approximately 60 to 70 million people — or about one in five — in the United States suffers from some form of digestive-health problem, according to the National Institutes of Health (1). In addition, Mintel reports that slightly more than half of U.S. adults have taken over-the-counter remedies for symptoms of indigestion (2).

When working properly, your digestive system breaks down the food that serves as building blocks needed for survival, optimal functioning, and health maintenance. Conversely, when not functioning properly, your digestive system can cause unwelcome symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, and poor overall health.

Fundamentals of the Digestive System

The digestive system consists mainly of the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the GI tract or gut, which is a system of hollow organs joined together in a long winding tube. These hollow organs include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon, and rectum. Solid organs including the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are also part of the digestive system.

After entering the digestive process in the mouth, food travels through the GI tract and is mixed with digestive juices, enzymes, and other compounds that help ensure food is broken down. Then the nutrients are absorbed and sent out into the bloodstream. What’s left over after this process is excreted from the body as waste.

Another important part of the digestive system is our gut microbiome, which is a diverse community of microorganisms that also plays a role in digestion of foods and maintaining health (3). Each of us has our own unique bacterial composition that’s affected by various factors including our environment, diet, physical activity, weight, and even stress. When our gut microbiome is in balance, it contributes to overall good health; conversely, if an imbalance occurs, it can lead to poor health outcomes (4-5).

How to Support Your Digestive System

So, how can one best support their digestive system to maintain good health? For starters, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical exercise, and keeping stress levels controlled all contribute to healthy digestive system functioning. Supplemental nutrition factors can also contribute to a well-functioning digestive system.

As enzymes play a critical role in the body’s ability to break down the nutrients in the foods we eat, supplementation with them is sometimes necessary. Certain factors like age and conditions associated with poor digestion make enzyme supplementation even more important to aid in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and to increase the availability of nutrients (6-7). Additionally, age and other factors may lead to insufficient production of the enzymes needed to digest plant sugars and fibers from fruits and vegetables (8). Plant-based proteins can also be difficult to digest.

Indirectly, these factors can lead a person to avoid lower-calorie fruits and vegetables and rely more heavily on higher-calorie meat products or processed foods. Supplementation with digestive enzymes may help those who have trouble with digesting fruits and vegetables and improve nutrient availability from these plant foods, supporting overall health and weight management.

Supporting microbial diversity in the gut can also support better digestive health. Diet is a major influence on the makeup and diversity of the gut microbiome (9). A diet containing more plant-based foods affects the gut microbiota differently than a diet that contains a larger amount of animal-based foods (10). Regardless of diet type, probiotic supplementation can be beneficial for improving microbial balance and lending diversity to the gut microbiome.

To find out the latest information on digestive health innovation, click here.

References

  1. Everhart JE, editor. The burden of digestive diseases in the United States. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2008; NIH Publication No. 09-6443.
  2. Mintel Group Ltd. Digestive Health. US, July 2018.
  3. Buford TW. (Dis)Trust your gut: the gut microbiome in age-related inflammation, health, and disease. Microbiome. 2017 Jul; 5: 80.
  4. Stephens Rw, Arhire L, and Covasa M. Gut microbiota: from microorganisms to metabolic organ influencing obesity. Obesity. 2018 May; 26(5): 801-809.
  5. Le Chatelier E, Nielsen T, Qin J, et al. Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature. 2013 Aug 29; 500: 541-6.
  6. Roxas M. The role of enzyme supplementation in digestive disorders. Alt Med Rev. 2008; 13(4): 307-314.
  7. Ianiro G, Pecere S, Giorgio V, et al. Digestive enzyme supplementation in gastrointestinal diseases. Curr Drug Metab. 2016 Feb; 17(2): 187-193.
  8. Anderson JW and Chen WJ. Plant fiber. Carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 1979 Feb; 32(2): 346-63.
  9. David LA, Maurice CF, Carmody RN, et al. Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. 2014 Jan 23; 505(7484): 559-563.
  10. Glick-Bauer M and Yeh M. The health advantage of a vegan diet: exploring the gut microbiota connection. Nutrients. 2014 Oct 31; 6: 4822-4838.

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Podcast: Cleanse Days 101 – Isagenix Health

Trainer: Sara Richter, M.S., Nutrition Education Manager


 

Nutrition Education Manager Sara Richter is on the call to talk all about Cleanse Days. She dives into the science behind cleansing and what makes it different from any other fasting protocol on the market. She explains how Cleanse Days aren’t just a tool for weight loss but a lifelong practice to support cardiovascular, cognitive, and digestive health. No matter what protocol or products you choose to use, the flexibility and support of an Isagenix Cleanse Day can help you achieve your goals.

For more podcasts visit IsagenixPodcast.com.

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