Anti-Viral Plants 5: Peppermint


(Mentha piperita leaf extract)


Mentha is native to the Mediterranean regions, Canada, and the United States of America. It is cultivated in temperate climates for its use in flavor, medicinal properties, and pharmaceutical applications. Mentha grows spontaneously in soil rich in nutrients and water and blooms between mid and late summer.

The origin of Mentha Piperita

Mentha piperita, commonly known as peppermint, is indeed a hybrid mint resulting from the crossing of Mentha aquatica (watermint) and Mentha spicata (spearmint). This hybridization likely occurred spontaneously or through natural processes, rather than deliberate human intervention. Over time, through natural selection and adaptation, this hybrid mint developed distinctive characteristics that distinguish it from its parent species. Peppermint is well-known for its strong aroma, flavor, and medicinal properties, making it a popular herb in culinary, medicinal, and pharmaceutical applications.

Menta Piperita main ingredients

Mentha piperita, or peppermint, contains a diverse array of chemical compounds, making it valuable for various purposes. Here’s a breakdown of some of its components:

  1. Menthol (45-55%): Known for its cooling sensation, menthol is a key compound in peppermint. It provides relief from minor aches, pains, and irritation, and is commonly used in products like topical ointments, cough drops, and oral hygiene products.
  2. Carvacrol, Eugenol, Thymol: These are aromatic compounds with antimicrobial properties. They contribute to peppermint’s ability to combat bacteria and fungi, making it useful in oral care products and as a natural preservative.
  3. Pinene, Alpha-pinene: Pinene is one of the most common terpenes found in nature and exists in two structural forms, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. Alpha-pinene is abundant in coniferous trees, such as pine trees, and is a major component of their resin. Alpha-pinene has a distinct pine scent and is known for its anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator (helps to improve airflow to the lungs), and antimicrobial properties.
  4. Limonene: Limonene is a terpene with a strong citrus aroma, commonly found in the rinds of citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. It is known for its mood-enhancing and stress-relieving properties. Limonene also has potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects. It is often used in cleaning products and cosmetics for its pleasant scent and therapeutic benefits.
  5. Myrcene: Myrcene is a terpene with an earthy, musky aroma, often found in high concentrations in plants such as hops, bay leaves, and thyme. This terpene that contribute to peppermint’s fresh, citrusy scent. These compounds also exhibit therapeutic effects, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  6. Tannins: Tannins are polyphenolic compounds with astringent properties. They may help reduce inflammation and promote wound healing.
  7. Beta-carotene: This is a precursor to vitamin A, known for its antioxidant properties and its role in maintaining healthy skin and vision.
  8. Vitamins (Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamine): These B vitamins are essential for various metabolic functions, including energy production, nervous system health, and red blood cell formation.
  9. Minerals (Magnesium, Selenium, Iron, Manganese, Zinc): These minerals play crucial roles in various physiological processes, such as immune function, enzyme activity, and bone health.

Overall, the diverse chemical composition of peppermint contributes to its wide range of therapeutic properties, including its use as a digestive aid, respiratory remedy, and topical analgesic.

What are a Terpenes?

Terpenes features and properties

Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds produced by various plants, particularly conifers, and by some insects. They are responsible for the aroma, flavor, and color of many plants and are commonly found in essential oils. Chemically, terpenes are built from isoprene units, which are five-carbon molecules. These compounds are classified by the number of isoprene units they contain:

  1. Monoterpenes: Consist of two isoprene units (10 carbon atoms). Examples include limonene and pinene.
  2. Sesquiterpenes: Consist of three isoprene units (15 carbon atoms). Examples include farnesene and humulene.
  3. Diterpenes: Consist of four isoprene units (20 carbon atoms). Examples include ginkgolides and taxadiene.
  4. Triterpenes: Consist of six isoprene units (30 carbon atoms). Examples include squalene and lanosterol.
  5. Tetraterpenes: Consist of eight isoprene units (40 carbon atoms). Examples include carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene.
  6. Polyterpenes: Consist of many isoprene units and include natural rubber.

Functions and Uses of Terpenes:

  1. Ecological Roles:
    • Defense Mechanism: Terpenes can act as deterrents for herbivores and insects, and some have antimicrobial properties to protect the plant.
    • Attraction: They can attract pollinators or beneficial organisms that prey on plant pests.
  2. Commercial Uses:
    • Aromatherapy and Perfumery: Terpenes are key ingredients in essential oils used for their fragrant properties.
    • Flavoring Agents: They contribute to the flavors of many foods and beverages.
    • Pharmaceuticals: Some terpenes have medicinal properties and are used in the development of therapeutic agents. For example, menthol (a monoterpene) is used for its cooling and soothing effects.
    • Cosmetics and Cleaning Products: Terpenes are used for their pleasant scents and antimicrobial properties.
  1. Potential Health Benefits:
    • Anti-inflammatory: Some terpenes have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help in managing conditions like arthritis.
    • Antioxidant: Terpenes can neutralize free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
    • Antimicrobial: Certain terpenes have properties that help in fighting off bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
    • Mood Enhancement: Many terpenes, like limonene, have mood-boosting effects and can help reduce stress and anxiety.

In summary, terpenes are versatile compounds with a wide range of ecological, commercial, and therapeutic applications. Their presence in plants is crucial for various functions, from defense to attracting pollinators, and their benefits extend to human use in multiple industries.

Pharmacological activity

The beneficial properties of this evergreen plant have been justified by numerous pharmacological studies, showing antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial activities. Known in ancient times as the best digestive plant, peppermint helps improve digestion. In fact, meat protein is quite difficult to digest.

Antiviral properties

Useful for reducing coughing attacks, bronchitis, and inflammation of the throat in many respiratory diseases, its content of menthol, thymol, carvacrol, and polyphenols makes it a powerful antiviral ally.

Mentha toxicity
The leaves of Mentha do not present toxicity; however, pure Mentha oil should not be taken without consulting your doctor first.

Almu Rodriguez

Hair Loss Natural Solution Plant Based Organic Ingredients