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Peppermint extract is an herbal extract of peppermint (Mentha x piperita) made from the essential oils of peppermint leaves. It is commonly used in cooking, as a dietary supplement, and as an herbal or alternative medicine. The liquid is obtained by extracting the oils from dried or fresh leaves and the flowering tops of the plant using alcohol. It is commonly sold in 1 oz. or 4 oz. bottles.
Peppermint extract can be used to add a peppermint flavor to baked goods, desserts, and candy, particularly candy canes, mints, and peppermint patties. Extracts for cooking may be labeled as pure, natural, imitation, or artificial. While pure and natural extracts contain peppermint oil specifically, imitation and artificial extracts generally use a mix of ingredients to achieve a flavor resembling peppermint.
Peppermint extract can be substituted in recipes with peppermint oil (a stronger ingredient primarily used in candy-making), crème de menthe, or peppermint schnapps. Please note: if the recipe does not call for heating, the alcoholic properties of liqueurs may remain present in the finished product.
Peppermint extract may also be added to hot water to create peppermint tea.
Peppermint oil has been shown to be effective for IBS with constipation. Be sure to get the capsule form so that it may bypass the stomach in order to act in the small intestines. As with all supplements, be wary of more expensive formulations.
Medicinal uses of peppermint extract are now well documented (see main peppermint article). Peppermint extract is also commonly used to soothe symptoms of the common cold and the flu, and as a digestive aid which may relieve bloating and flatulence. It may also be used to aid in the relief of pain from menstrual cramp and tension headaches. Because of its cooling properties, it may also relieve itching when applied topically.
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