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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Volatile Oils

It is the oil obtained by the distillation of Mentha piperita, belonging to family Labiatae.






Brandy Mint.


Botanical Source


It is the oil obtained by the distillation of Mentha piperita, belonging to family Labiatae.


Geographical Source


It is mainly found in Europe, United States, and also in damp places of England.


Cultivation and Collection


Peppermint thrives best in a fairly warm, preferably moist climate, with well-drained, deep soils rich in humus. Peppermint will grow successfully, if once started into growth and carefully cultivated. The usual method of cultivation is to dig runners in the early spring and lay them in shallow trenches, 3 feet apart in well-prepared soil. The growing crop is kept well-cultivated and absolutely free from weeds and in the summer when the plant is in full bloom, the mint is cut by hand and distilled in straw. A part of the exhausted herb is dried and used for cattle food.




The leaves are shortly and distinctly stalked, 2 inches long and 3/4 to 1.5 inches broad. The margins are finely toothed, with smooth upper and lower surfaces The stems are 2 to 4 feet high, frequently purplish in colour. The flowers are reddish-violet in colour, present in the axils of the upper leaves, forming loose, interrupted spikes. The plant has a characteristic odour and if applied to the tongue has a hot, aromatic taste at first and afterwards produces a sensation of cold in the mouth caused by menthol present in it. Oil is colourless, yellowish or greenish liquid, with penetrating odour and a burning, camphorescent taste. On storage it becomes thick and reddish but increases the mellowness even if it is stored for 14 years.

                                   Mentha piperita  

Chemical Constituents


The chief constituent of Peppermint oil is Menthol, along with other constituents like menthyl acetate, isovalerate, menthone, cineol, inactive pinene, limonene, and other less important bodies. Menthol separates on cooling it to a low temperature (–22°C). The flavouring properties of the oil are due to both the ester and alcoholic constituents, whereas the medicinal value is attributed only due to the alcoholic components. The English oil contains 60 to 70% of Menthol, the Japanese oil containing 85%, and the American has only about 50%.





It is stimulant, stomachic, carminative, inflatulence, and colic; in some dyspepsia, sudden pains, for cramp in the abdomen and also in cholera and diarrhoea. Oil of peppermint allays sickness and nausea, as infants cordial. Peppermint is good to aid in raising internal heat and inducing perspiration. It is also used in cases of hysteria and nervous disorders.




Camphor oil, Cedarwood oil, and oil of African Copaiba are occasionally used as an adulterant of Peppermint oil, the oil is also adulterated with one-third part of rectified spirit. If adulterated with rectified spirit it can be identified by agitating it with water which produces milkiness. Rosemary oil and Turpentine oil are also sometimes used as adulterants.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparation known as Dabur lal tooth powder (Dabur).


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