Traditional indications of some
The genus Mentha L. (Lamiaceae) is distributed all over the world and can be found in many environments. Mentha species, one of the world’s oldest and most popular herbs, are widely used in cooking, in cosmetics, and as alternative or complementary therapy, mainly for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders like flatulence, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and ulcerative colitis. Furthermore, it is well documented that the essential oil and extracts of Mentha species possess antimicrobial, fungicidal, antiviral, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties. The economic importance of mints is also evident; mint oil and its constituents and derivatives are used as flavoring agents throughout the world in food, pharmaceutical, herbal, perfumery, and flavoring industry. To provide a scientific basis for their traditional uses, several studies have been conducted to determine the chemical composition of mints and assess their biological activities. This chapter describes the therapeutic effects and uses of Mentha species and their constituents, particularly essential oils and phenolic compounds; some additional biological activities will also be considered.
- Mentha sp.
- therapeutic effects
- biological activities
This family includes about 260 genera and more than 7000 species. Their characteristic features include the stems which are quadrangular (square) in cross-section and the bisexual, zygomorphic bilaterally symmetrical flowers, composed of five united and deeply lobed petals and five united sepals; typically, the lower petal is larger than the others. The fruit is dry and woody, a schizocarp or drup. The distinctive strongly aromatic leaves are opposite with successive pairs at right angles (i.e., decussate) with margins entire or lobed. Many species of this family, such as mints, have important commercial uses for the culinary, pharmaceutical, herbal, and ornamental industries .
Throughout history, a number of mint species have been used around the globe for various properties. Peppermint oil is one of the world’s oldest herbal medicines. The gathering of dried peppermint dates back to at least 1000 BC, and its use is documented in the ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome; in traditional Chinese medicine, the use of a local mint species,
The taxonomy of the genus
Within the section
Šarić-Kundalić et al.  suggest a differentiation of the section
2. Therapeutic effects and uses
Besides its culinary uses, mint is also used in traditional systems of medicine. Mints are mainly used to cure gastrointestinal disorders, but the spectrum of medical activities is broader . Mint was originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomachache and chest pains, and it is commonly used in the form of tea as a home remedy to stimulate digestion; alleviate stomach pain; and treat biliary disorders, dyspepsia, enteritis, flatulence, gastritis, gastric acidities, aerophagia, intestinal colic, and spasms of the bile duct, gallbladder, and gastrointestinal tract [7, 10, 11]. Mint also aids digestion, notably of fats; in recent years, it has been often recommended for treating obesity. Mint tea is also a strong diuretic .
The essential oil from
Other therapeutic effects attributed to a series of
|Brazil||For the expulsion of parasitic worms, mainly |||
|Morocco||Leaf and stem infusion for headache and tiredness|||
|India||Stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic, fever, remedy in infantile troubles; the boiled leaves extract is used to relieve hiccup, flatulence, giddiness and as remedy for inflammation, bronchitis, to control vomiting during pregnancy|||
|Turkey||Three or four cups daily between meals can relieve gastrointestinal complaints. This herb is considered stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic, and antidote for poisons. It has been reported as a remedy for inflammation, fevers, bronchitis, infantile troubles, vomiting in pregnancy, and hysteria|||
|India||The boiled leave extract was counseled in the viral hepatitis, as analgesic known for its ability to enhance memory. Leaves are given for fever and bronchitis and are used as lotion in aphthae, as stomachic and diuretic, for gas pain, rheumatism, toothache, muscle pain, and mouthwash|||
|France||Acquires a very powerful action on the nervous system|||
|India||The plant is typically used in the treatment of loss of appetite, common cold, bronchitis, sinusitis, fever, nausea, and vomiting|||
|Brazil||For expulsion of parasitic worms; mainly |||
|Algeria||Stomachic, carminative, antiemetic, antispasmodic, tonic, antitussive, and insecticidal|||
|Iran||Antiseptic for treatment of cold, sinusitis, cholera, food poisoning, bronchitis, and tuberculosis|||
|Iran||In the treatment of flatulent dyspepsia and intestinal colic|||
|Morocco||Leaf and stem decoction was used in cold and for system digestive|||
|France||Tonic, stimulative, stomachic, carminative, analgesic, choleretic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, hypotensive, and insecticidal|||
|Iran||Different parts of the plant (leaves, flower, stem, bark, and seeds) have been used as antimicrobial, carminative, stimulant, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, anticatarrhal, wound healing, deworming, insect repellent, antiemetic, sedative, diuretic, aphrodisiac, blood purifier and for the treatment of headaches, digestive disorders, tonsillitis, diarrhea, dysentery, abdominal disorders, constipation, gall stone, jaundice, toothache, flatulence, asthma, cough, dyspnea, common cold, fever, headache, general weakness, and bladder and kidney stones|||
|India||Peppermint oil (as well as peppermint leaf) has been used internally as an antispasmodic (upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts) and to treat irritable bowel syndrome, catarrh of the respiratory tract, and inflammation of the oral mucosa. Externally, peppermint oil has been used for myalgia and neuralgia|
To relieve menstrual cramps and used externally for neuralgia, myalgia, headaches, migraines, and chicken pox
|India||Peppermint plants have been used for many conditions, including loss of appetite, common cold, bronchitis, sinusitis, fever, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion|||
|Finland||Peppermint uses include irritable bowel syndrome, flatulence, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, cough, and bronchitis|||
|USA||The odors of peppermint serve as central nervous system stimulant and are used to decrease fatigue|||
|India||Possess abortifacient property|||
|Australia||Decoctions were used to treat colds and coughs while inhaling the crushed mint to relieve headaches; the plant is also used as an abortifacient|||
|China||Various parts of the plant are used to treat sores and rashes on the skin, headache, red eyes, common cold, superficial visual obstructions, sore throat, mouth ulcers, and distension and oppression in the chest and the hypochondrium||[27, 28]|
Mint is also used for buccodental prevention. During the middle ages, powdered mint leaves were used to whiten teeth . Fresh mint leaves are used in chewing, for mouth burns; in decoction, it is used as mouthwashes to reduce gingival pain . Mint is used in making oral dentifrices as it can provide overall freshness in breath. More studies are being done as to whether or not it directly contributes to preventing caries and plaque; however, it is confirmed that it does create an unfavorable environment for bacteria . Moreover, peppermint applied to the gums of teething babies can help relieve distress and clean teeth .
Mint oil and its constituents and derivatives are also used as flavoring agents throughout the world in food, pharmaceutical, perfumery, and flavoring industry . Essential oils isolated from
3. Adverse and toxic effects
Although some healthcare professionals believe that herbal medicines, such as the essential oil from
On the basis of recent rodent chronic studies , target organs for pulegone and menthofuran are the liver and kidney, and a plausible mechanism for toxicity is the formation of reactive metabolites, which is also supported by in vitro experimental data. According to the Committee of Experts on Flavoring Substances (CEFS), provisional consumption limits were established for pulegone at 20 mg/kg in food and beverages .
Menthol causes hepatocellular changes in rats. Inhalation of menthol can cause apnea and laryngeal constriction, a risk for infants. Contact sensitivity to menthol and peppermint with oral symptoms including burning mouth syndrome, recurrent oral ulceration, or a lichenoid reaction has been reported. The excessive inhalation of mentholated preparation has caused reversible nausea, anorexia, cardiac problems, ataxia, and other central nervous system (CNS) problems. Peppermint oil is contraindicated in obstruction of the bile ducts, gallbladder inflammation, and severe liver failure .
Dose-dependent hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity were reported for
In Wistar rats, depending on dosage, the
Due to the major decrease of the potentially harmful pulegone and menthone by oven-drying, it is recommended that this herb should be oven-dried or cooked before consumption in order to reduce toxicity. Eating of the raw plant should be discouraged, particularly in patients with a history of liver disease or those taking cytochrome P450-inducing drugs .
4. Composition of
The majority of studies on mint constituents focus on essential oils. Indeed, these compounds are widely used in different industries. Moreover, major polyphenols have also been investigated for interesting biological properties.
4.1. Essential oils
Essential oils are natural and volatile secondary metabolites characterized by a strong odor and a complex composition. They are usually obtained by steam or hydro-distillation from various aromatic plants, generally localized in temperate to warm countries like Mediterranean and tropical countries where they represent an important part of the traditional pharmacopoeia .
Several species of
Peppermint leaves typically contain 1.2–3.9% (v/w) of essential oil, with more than 300 identified compounds. The terpenic class is the most represented, comprising about 52% of monoterpenes and 9% of sesquiterpenes, whereas other groups, such as aldehydes (9%), aromatic hydrocarbons (9%), miscellaneous (8%), lactones (7%), and alcohols (6%), have been shown to be present in a smaller proportion. Among monoterpenes, menthol is the major constituent (35–60%), followed by menthone (2–44%), menthyl acetate (0.7–23%), 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) (1–13%), menthofuran (0.3–14%), isomenthone (2–5%), neomenthol (3–4%), and limonene (0.1–6%), whereas β-caryophyllene is the main sesquiterpene (1.6–1.8%) . Most of peppermint oil medicinal properties are ascribed to menthol, their major active component, while esters, such as menthyl acetate, provide the familiar minty taste and associated aroma .
Table 2 presents published compositions of some widespread mint essential oils with a more limited commercial interest, including
|Carvone||Tunisia (50), China (47–65), Greece (59), Japan(62), Israel(58), India (73), Portugal (76),South Africa (55), India (50–77), Serbia (50), Pakistan (60–63), Turkey (50), Algeria (59), Morocco (29), India (49), Algeria (49)||[6, 35, 37–51]|
|Piperitenone oxide||Greece (36)|||
|Pulegone||Portugal (35), Algeria (39), Japan (51), Switzerland (20–35),Greece (45–50), Portugal (78–81), Uruguay (73), Morocco (80),Iran (38), Greece (33–76), India (66–83), Bulgaria (27–50), Egypt (44), Algeria (4–87), Spain (41–42), Tunisia (61),Iran (41), Morocco (70), Algeria, Bejaia (70); Algeria, Bouira (71)||[41, 47, 55–72]|
|Piperitone||Austria (70), Iran (38)||[19, 74]|
|Menthol||Tunisia (41–52), Greece (61–78)||[76, 77]|
|Carvone||Argentina (43), Finland (62),||[78, 79]|
|Trans-piperitone oxide||Italy (41), Japan (18–26)||[80, 81]|
|Piperitenone oxide||Japan (46), Japan (8–84), Morocco (0.9–56), Algeria (24–39)||[38, 84–86]|
|Pulegone||Morocco (85), Tunisia (32)||[88, 89]|
|Trans-piperitone epoxide||Algeria, Bejaia (30)|||
|Pulegone||Tunisia (47), Senegal (52 and 42)||[12, 68]|
|Cis-piperitone epoxide||Turkey (18)|||
4.2. Phenolic compounds
Phenolic compounds, secondary metabolites ubiquitously distributed in plants, include a large group of biologically active compounds, with over 8000 molecules, either small or large and complex molecules, presenting at least one aromatic ring with one or more hydroxyl groups attached. These compounds often appear in their natural sources as esters and glycosides .
Species of the genus
Regarding phenolic acids, the genus
In an older study, external lipophilic methylated flavonoids have been extracted from dried leaves of
The phenolic composition of other species of different origins is summarized in Table 3.
|Phenolic acids||Rosmarinic acid||Japan|||
|Vanillic, homovanillic, hydroxybenzoic, syringic, 4-hydroxy cinnamic, trans-hydroxy cinnamic, 2-hydroxy cinnamic, and ferulic acids||Greece|||
|Gallic, chlorogenic, caffeic, vanillic, syringic, ||Finland|||
|Protocatechuic and vanillic acids||China|||
|4-Hydroxy benzoic, caffeic, ||Algeria|||
|Flavonoids||Diosmetin, diosmin, diosmin-7-glucoside||India|||
|5-Desmethoxynobiletin, 5,6-dihydroxy-7,8,3′,4′-tetramethoxyflavone, thymonin, sideritiflavone||Japan|||
|5-Hydroxy-3′,4′,6,7-tetramethoxyflavone and thymonin||China|||
|Apigenin, rutin, catechin||Greece|||
|Chrysoeriol, 5, 6-dihydroxy-7, 8, 3′, 4′-tetramethoxyflavone and nodifloretin||China|||
|Rutin, quercetin, luteolin||Greece|||
|Rutin, scopoletin||Czech Republic|||
|Catechin, epicatechin, rutin, myricetin, luteolin, apigenin, naringenin||Malaysia|||
|Rutin, naringin, luteolin, diosmin, naringenin, kaempferol, and diosmetin||Algeria|||
|Lignans||Spicatolignan A and spicatolignan B||China|||
|Phenolic acids||Rosmarinic acid||France|||
|Rosmarinic, caffeic, and lithospermic acids||Poland|||
|Rosmarinic and lithospermic acids||Poland|||
|Rosmarinic, salvianolic, and dehydro-salvianolic acids|||
|Caffeic, syringic, gallic, vanillic, ||USA|||
|Caffeic acid, salvianolic acid B, protocatechuic acid glucoside, isosalvianolic acid A, prolithospermic acid, salvianolic acids (E and H/I), danshensu||Iran|||
|Protocatechuic acid glucoside, caffeic, chlorogenic, rosmarinic, prolithospermic acids, salvianolic acid H/I, isosalvianolic acid A, salvianolic acid B, salvianolic acid E, and danshensu||Different origins||[24, 30]|
|Caffeic, vanillic, ferulic, and chlorogenic acids||Iran|||
|Rosmarinic, caffeic, gallic, syringic, ||Croatia|||
|Caffeic, chlorogenic, 3-O-caffeoylquinic acids, salvianolic acid B, and salvianolic acid L||Portugal|||
|Flavonoids||Luteolin 7-O-rutinoside, isorhoifolin, eriodictyol 7-O-glucoside, hesperidin, eriocitrin, narirutin, diosmin||France|||
|5,6-Dihydroxy-7,8,3′,4′-tetramethoxyflavone, sorbifolin, thymosin, thymonin, sideritoflavone, ladanein, xanthomicrol, acacetin, salvigenin, 5-O-demethylnobiletin||France|||
|Luteolin 7-O-β-glucuronide, luteolin 7-O-rutinoside, isorhoifolin, eriodictyol, eriodictyol 7-O-β-glucoside, hesperidin, eriocitrin, narirutin, naringenin-7-O-β-glucoside||Poland|||
|Luteolin 7-glucoside, luteolin 7-O-rutinoside, isorhoifolin, pebrellin, eriodictyol 7-O-glucoside, eriodictyol-7-rutinoside, 5,6-dihydroxy-7,8,3′,4′-tetramethoxyflavone||Portugal|||
|Luteolin O-diglucuronide, luteolin O-glucuronide, methylated luteolin-glucuronide, luteolin-glucopyranosyl-rhamnopyranoside, eriodictyol-glucopyranosyl-rhamnopyranoside||Poland|||
|Luteolin, luteolin 7-O-neohesperidoside, tricetin 3′-O-glucoside, 5′-O-rhamnoside, pebrellin, hesperidin, eriocitrin, narirutin, eriodictyol-7-rutinoside, gardenin D, isosafrole, kaempferol 7-O-rutinoside, 4′-methoxykaempferol-7-O-rutinoside||USA|||
|Catechin, (−)-epigallocatechin gallate||USA|||
|Luteolin O-diglucuronide, luteolin O-glucuronide, luteolin O-rutinoside, eriocitrin, narirutin, diosmin, myricetin O-glucoside||Iran|||
|Luteolin-di-O-glucuronide, eriocitrin, luteolin-O-glucuronide, luteolin-O-rutinoside, narirutin, apigenin-O-rutinoside, diosmin, luteolin-O-glucuronide, myricetin-O-glucoside||Different origins|||
|Catechin, quercetin-4′-glucoside, (−)-epicatechin||Croatia|||
|Gallocatechin-gallate, rutin, quercetin, naringin, hesperidin||Mexico|||
|Luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, luteolin-7-O-glucuronide, luteolin-O-diglucuronide, eriodictyol-O-rutinoside and eriodictyol-O-hexoside, naringenin-7-O-rutinoside, eriodictyol-7-O-rutinoside||Portugal|||
|Lignans||Medioresinol, medioresinol sulfate||Iran|||
|Phenolic acids||Caffeic acid||Egypt|||
|Caffeic, vanillic, and ferulic acids||Greece|||
|4-Hydroxy benzoic, caffeic, ||Algeria|||
|Thymonin, jaceosidin, pectolinaringenin, ladanein, sorbifolin, pedalitin, 5,6,4′-trihydroxy-7,3′-dimethoxyflavone; 5,6-dihydroxy-7,3′,4′-trimethoxyflavone; 5-hydroxy-6,7,3′,4′-tetramethoxyflavone, apigenin, luteolin, chrysoeriol||Algeria|||
|Luteolin, diosmin, and kaempferol||Algeria|||
|Apigenin, luteolin, naringenin, catechin||Greece|||
|Phenolic acids||Caffeic, ||Spain|||
|Flavonoids||Apigenin, luteolinidin, elargonidin, cyanidin, delphinidin, petunidin, luteolin||Spain|||
|Thymonin, thymosin, 5,6-dihydroxy-7,8,3′,4′-tetramethoxyflavone, jaceosidin, hispidulin, ladanein, sorbifolin, nodifloretin, apigenin, luteolin, genkwanin||Algeria|||
|Luteolin, diosmin, naringenin, kaempferol, and diosmetin||Algeria|||
|Phenolic acids||Rosmarinic, salvianolic acid L, dedihydro-salvianolic acid||Poland|||
|Flavonoids||Luteolin-glucuronide, luteolin-diglucuronide, luteolin-glucopyranosyl-rhamnopyranoside, eriodictyol- glucopyranosyl-rhamnopyranoside, methylated luteolin-glucuronide||Poland|||
|Phenolic acids||Rosmarinic, chlorogenic, and caffeic acids||Australia|||
|Flavonoids||Neoponcirin, narirutin, biochanin A, apigenin, hesperetin, and naringenin||Australia|||
|Phenolic acids||Rosmarinic, caffeic acid||China, Finland||[27, 129]|
|Flavonoids||Isoraifolin, luteolin-7-glucoside, menthoside||China|||
4.3. Other compounds
Various other classes of compounds have been characterized and quantified in the mints.
Triterpenoids and steroids were also isolated from mints. So, two triterpenoids ursolic acid and uvaol and three steroids stigmast-5-en-3-
On the other hand, different pigments were identified and quantified in
Mint was also reported to contain sugars, saponins, alkaloids, anthraquinones, and quinines , but these absolutely surprising HPTLC-based phytochemical data as well as the identity/purity of investigated samples should be thoroughly verified.
5. Biological activities
The research over the past several years has shown that mint and its constituents possess different biological activities including antioxidant, antimicrobial, insecticidal, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties .
5.1. Antioxidant activity
Various types of compounds from aromatic and medicinal plants are receiving particular attention due to their radical scavenging properties. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are chemical species formed in the body during metabolism that are highly reactive and may have one or more unpaired electrons. Oxidative stress, i.e., an imbalance between ROS and antioxidant defenses, has deleterious effects, such as the peroxidation of membrane lipids and the attack on biomolecules (proteins, membrane enzymes, carbohydrates, and DNA) .
Other tests are less used in literature to evaluate the antioxidant potential/radical scavenger capacity of
|Ethanolic||[99, 144, 148]|
|Essential oil||[51, 71, 147]|
|Acetone, acetone/water methanol, methanol/water, ethanol, ethanol/water|||
|Essential oils||[51, 71]|
|Water, ethanolic||[73, 141]|
The most studied species are
5.2. Antimicrobial activity
The antibacterial and antifungal activities of
The essential oil of
Besides, the essential oils from
The antibacterial or antifungal activity of
5.3. Insecticidal activity
Mint is also known to exhibit insecticidal activity against a wide variety of insects.
Varma and Dubey  reported complete inhibition of
Several studies have indicated that
The cytotoxicity of essential oils from four
In another study, aqueous extract of
Lv et al.  also evaluated the antiproliferative activity of a peppermint extract against the human tumor cell line HT-29 (effective doses 250 and 500 μg/mL). Similarly, the cytotoxic effect of
5.5. Anti-inflammatory properties
In vivo, pretreatment of albino mice and female Wistar rats with
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