Last update March 1, 2022
Mentha is a genus of herbaceous plants of the Lamiaceae family. There are several species with differences in composition and properties.
Mentha citrata or weed grass is a variety that grows in Chile and Argentina. Mentha x piperita or Mint is a hybrid plant of Mentha spicata (Spearmint) and Mentha aquatica (Water mint). Dried leaves, containing essential oil (very rich in menthol), menthone, monoterpenes like isomenthone or 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) and flavonoids, are used. (Fitoterpia.net acces.02/2022, EMA 2020, Wu 2019, de Groot 2016, WHO 2010 & 2004)
Indications based on traditional use: orally as a spasmolytic in dyspepsia, irritable bowel and flatulence; Topical or inhalation application for relief of coughs, colds, aches and itching. (EMA 2020)
The main components of mint, menthol and 1-8-cineole are excreted in breast milk in minute amounts (Hausner 2008, Kirsch 2012) that do not cause problems or cause rejection in infants. (Kirsch 2013)
Plant widely used in many cultures, including during pregnancy and lactation as calming, relaxing or anti-emetic (Kaygusuz 2021, Eid 2020, Sim 2013, Kennedy 2013, Westfall 2004), but according to some authors it can cause a decrease in milk production, being traditionally used for weaning, although there is no evidence to support this clinical use. (Suzuki 2020, Eglash 2014, Sim 2013)
It is used, also without evidence, to relieve colic in infants.(Biagioli 2016, Alves 2012, Abdulrazzaq 2009, Crotteau 2006)
Since it is non toxic at appropriate dose and a tiny excretion into breast milk of active metabolite Menthol, a moderate consumption is believed compatible while breastfeeding. Culinary and flavoring uses are compatible with breastfeeding.
It has been used topically to treat nipple cracks and/or soreness with similar or greater efficacy to lanolin or breast milk (Bolourian 2020, Shanazi 2015, Akbari 2014, Sayyah 2007, Melli 2007), but other studies conclude that the application of nothing or breast milk is more effective than that of mint or lanolin (Gharakhani 2018, Dennis 2014). The passage to plasma by skin absorption is minimal. (Martin 2004)
Menthol is an ingredient in preparations used in respiratory tract disorders, although it is considered neither safe nor effective. Do not apply on the chest or in places where the infant can inhale it.
In case of use on the nipple, do it after feeding the baby and cleanse thoroughly the surface before the next one.
Overdosing of essential oil may be harmful. Do not expose infants to inhalation of products that contain Menthol (irritation of the air way)
Precautions when taking plant preparations (Anderson 2017, Powers 2015, Posadzki 2013, Efferth 2011, Kopec 1999, Hsu 1995):
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.
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