Mints and their Preparations.

Related entry: Thymol and Menthol

Mentha Piperita, Pepper-mint,—the leaves and tops of Mentha piperita, a plant of the ord, Labiatae, cultivated everywhere.

Oleum Menthae Piperitae, Oil of Peppermint,—is the volatile oil distilled from the fresh herb, consisting of Menthol (see above), and a liquid terpene. Dose, ♏︎j-v.
Aqua Menthae Piperitae, Peppermint Water,—2 per 1000. Dose, ad lib.
Spiritus Menthae Piperitae, Essence of Peppermint,—has 10 per cent. of the oil and 1 per cent. of the powdered herb. Dose, ♏︎x-xxx.
Trochisci Menthae Piperitae, Peppermint Troches,—each has of the oil 1 per cent., with Sugar and Mucilage. Dose, ad libitum.

Mentha Viridis, Spearmint,—the leaves and tops of Mentha viridis, the well-known "mint" of the gardens, a cultivated plant of the ord. Labiatae, having properties and constituents identical with those of Peppermint, but differing therefrom in odor and taste. Its preparations are as follows,—

Oleum Menthae Viridis, Oil of Spearmint,—Dose, ♏︎ij-v.
Aqua Menthae Viridis, Spearmint Water,—Dose, indefinite.
Spiritus Menthae Viridis, Essence of Spearmint,—Dose, ♏︎x-xl.

Physiological Action. The Mints are aromatic stimulants, carminatives and antispasmodics, their oils possessing these qualities in greater degree, and being also local anodynes and anaesthetics, especially if their evaporation be prevented after their application to a surface. The Chinese oil is especially efficient as an anodyne, and contains a large quantity of Menthol.

Menthol acts as a local vascular stimulant when applied to the skin; and is also a local anaesthetic, but not corrosive, causing first a sensation of burning, which is replaced by a feeling of coldness when the part is blown upon. It is a powerful antiseptic, the Oil of Peppermint being found to destroy comma bacilli in solution of 1 to 2000;—but its slight solubility in water prevents its use becoming general in this respect. Administered internally it stimulates the secretory nerves and the cardiac muscle, and causes a periodic increase in arterial tension (like camphor), but does not affect the pulse-rate. It increases the respiratory rate, and lessens the depth of the respirations. It lessens sensation and reflex sensibility, in large doses destroying both, and paralyzing the cerebro-spinal system.

Thymol resembles both Carbolic Acid and Oil of Turpentine in its action, being a powerful antiseptic and germicide, like the former, and like the latter an irritant to the organs of elimination and a paralyzant. When absorbed in toxic quantity it paralyzes the nerve-centres in the spinal cord and medulla from the first, with no preliminary stimulation;—slowing respiration, lowering the arterial tension, blood-pressure and body-temperature, and lessening reflex excitability. It is eliminated by the urinary and respiratory organs, which it irritates during its excretion. Autopsies on animals poisoned by it show fatty degeneration of the liver, (as with phosphorus), and great congestion of the bronchial and pulmonary mucous membranes and of the kidneys.

Therapeutics. The Oils of the Mints are employed chiefly as carminatives and stimulants, to relieve flatulence and colic; also as corrigents to purgatives, to lessen griping. Menthol is used locally as an antiseptic and analgesic, and Thymol as an antiseptic application to wounds and skin-diseases, also as a spray or inhalation in chronic affections of the lungs and bronchi.

Insects, as mosquitoes, gnats, etc.,—are effectually repelled by the odor of the oils of mint, and attracted by that of thyme.
Neuralgia, Odontalgia, etc.,—are relieved by the application of the menthol pencil over the surface, or the oily liquid resulting from its trituration with chloral, camphor, etc., on cotton in the cavity of a carious tooth.
Diabetes and Cystitis have been treated with Thymol, as an internal remedy; also Phthisis, Diphtheria, and Typhoid Fever.
Intestinal Affections, and ulcerated conditions of the mouth and fauces,—are satisfactorily treated with Thymol, as an internal antiseptic and mouth-wash.

A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.