The peppermint plant, traditionally indigenous to the European regions, is now relatively widely cultivated all around the world. It is actually a hybrid of watermint and spearmint species. Peppermint contains the substance menthol, which adds another depth of flavor and sensation to the products where its essential oil is used. 

It is also commonly used in toothpaste, shampoos, and soaps, and is hugely popular because of the minty scent and cooling sensation it leaves on the part of the body where it is applied onto. The oil derived from the said plant can be sold in aqueous or capsule preparations. Diluted versions are also available for topical applications. 

Peppermint has been used for medicinal purposes since the 1st century. Peppermint oil has been used for a variety of health conditions, including nausea, indigestion, and cold symptoms. Apparently, ancient healers were right because a few years ago, a study done by Italian investigators revealed that 7 out of 10 patients who were given peppermint oil capsules for one month reported considerable relief from IBS discomforts. Peppermint oil is also widely used as a pain reliever, treating muscle aches and reducing severity of migraine and tension headaches as well. 

Although the mechanism is unclear, the plant has also been found to improve once memory, and is thus popular among students who are going to take exams. This belief is not without merit because a research included in the International Journal of Neuroscience four years ago mirrored the same modulatory effect of peppermint aroma to cognitive performance and mental alertness. A laboratory study mentioned in Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics a year ago showed that peppermint exerted a cytoprotective effect on radiosensitive cells in mice, and opined that the same benefit can be enjoyed by humans who receive radiation therapy for certain malignancies. 

Peppermint oil capsules can be bought in brick-and-mortar and online health stores. They are distributed as health supplements, not OTC drugs, and are thus do not need a go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration prior to selling. Remember to buy enteric-coated capsules as taking it in aqueous form usually triggers acid reflux episodes. Industrial and food-grade essential oil of peppermint can also be bought online and offline. When shopping for peppermint oil products, determine if the ones you intend to get are made according to ISO and GMP quality standards. 

Remember to tell your healthcare providers about your complementary and alternative practices to ensure coordinated and safe care.

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