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Peppermint

  • Mentha piperita L.
  • Labiatae
  • Mint family



Common Names

herbsBalm mint
herbsBrandy mint
herbsCurled mint
herbsLamb mint
herbsLammint
herbsPhudina (Sanskrit name)
herbsWu-pa-ho (Chinese name)


Parts Usually Used

Leaves, oil, and flowering tops


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A hybrid perennial plant; 1-3 feet tall; the erect, square, branching stem is tinged with reddish-purple (not green as in spearmint) and has opposite, dark green, ovate to lanceo-late, serrate leaves. Axillary and terminal spikes of small, purple (violet) flowers in loose, interrupted terminal spikes, arranged in whorls, appear from July to frost. The whole plant has the characteristic smell of menthol.

Spearmint smells like chewing gum; peppermint smells like toothpaste.

Other mints, used similarly to peppermint: spearmint (M. spicata), water mint (M. aquatica), and curled mint (M. crispa).


Where Found

Mostly cultivated but also found wild in moist soil in the eastern United States and in Europe.


Medicinal Properties

Diaphoretic, aromatic, carminative, chologogue (stimulates flow of bile), stomachic, calmative, mild alterative, stimulant, rubefacient, nervine, analgesic


Biochemical Information

Menthol, menthone, fasmone, methyl acetate, volatile oils, tannic acid, terpenes, and vitamin C.


Legends, Myths and Stories

The Paiute and Shoshone Indians used a mint (Mentha penardi) known to them as peppermint (Indian name "Paquanah"). They made a tea from the leaves and stems after drying, to relieve gas pains. The Chinese use an herb (Mentha Arvensis) known to them as peppermint (Chinese name Po-ho or Fan-ho). The plant grows everywhere in China.

Peppermint grows very prolifically and should be in every herb garden; one of the oldest and best tasting household remedies. Well known for relieving indigestion and colic.

Peppermint is a general stimulant; a strong cup of peppermint tea will act more powerfully on the system than any liquor stimulant. It will quickly diffuse itself through the system and bring back to the body its natural warmth and glow without the usual tendency to relapse. It is good in cases of sudden fainting and/or dizziness with extreme coldness and pale countenance. Often it is useful for griping pains caused by eating unripe fruit or irritating foods.

Peppermint tea strengthens the heart muscle and is delicious. Coffee hinders digestion and is a cause of constipation and poisons the body. Peppermint tea cleanses and strengthens the entire body. Drink peppermint tea instead of tea or coffee and see how much better you feel.

Instead of using aspirin or some other harmful drug for headaches, take a strong cup of peppermint tea and lie down for a little while. The good effect will be very noticeable. Drink 2 or 3 cups if needed, so that enough gets into the system to help. It strengthens the nerves, instead of weakening them as aspirin and other drugs do.

If the tea is not available, chew some of the leaves until you can swallow them easily. This will assist the body in doing the work more normally; and will start the food digesting process. Studies show that peppermint lessens the time food spends in the stomach by stimulating the gastric lining. It relaxes the stomach and promotes burping, has a calming effect on the body and can help soothe a nagging cough. Helps reduce the sick feeling typical of migraine headaches.


Uses

Oil of peppermint adds refreshing cool flavor to cordial compositions. A sprig of fresh herb adds character to juleps.

Increases stomach acidity, irritates mucous membranes and the gastrointestinal tract. Use for chills, colic, fever, nausea, diarrhea, heart trouble, rheumatism, convulsions, spasms, dizziness, vomiting, travel sickness, dysentery, cholera, dysmenorrhea, palpitations of the heart, the grippe, hysteria, insomnia, neuralgia, and headaches. Used for colds, flu, sore throat, laryngitis, gas and mild digestive disorders.

The leaves can be made into a salve or a bath additive for itching skin conditions.

Extracts experimentally effective against herpes simplex, Newcastle disease, and other viruses. The oil stops spasms of smooth muscles. Externally, helps rheumatism, neuralgia, headaches, and migraines. Peppermint tea is a valuable old-time beverage which tends to relieve stomach gas, flatulence, and resultant distress. As a harmless, caffeine-free beverage it will not cause restlessness or keep you awake at night.

A wholesome tisane for every member of the family. For young children, 1 or 2 tbsp. of the tea can be sweetened with honey.

When queasiness, nausea, a feeling of fullness, or severe vomiting are presenting problems, a single cup of peppermint tea, drunk in sips and as warm as possible, will dispel these acute disturbances.

Peppermint tea promotes bile flow, improves bile production in the liver, and also exercises a positive influence on pancreatic function. Avoid peppermint in all forms if internal ulcers are present.


Formulas or Dosages

Collect the leaves on a hot, sunny day, preferably just before flowering time.

Infusion: steep 2 to 3 tsp. leaves in 1 cup water. Take 1 1/2 to 2 cups per day, but for no more than 8 to 12 days consecutively. After that time, wait at least a week before resuming, or heart problems may result.

Peppermint tea: Use 1 oz. herb in 1 pint of boiling water and sweeten with some honey. Take in wineglassful doses.

Oil: take 3 to 4 drops on a sugar cube with hot tea. For gas pains, take 1 or 2 drops in 1/2 glass of water.

Extract: take 5 to 15 drops of the liquid extract in a cup of water.

Tincture: take 10-50 drops, depending on age and the severity of the problem.


Nutrient Content

Vitamin C


How Sold

Sold as peppermint oil, extract, or tea Used commercially in many teas, medicines, salves, inhalants, etc.


Warning

May interfere with iron absorption.

Oil is toxic if taken internally in large doses; causes dermatitis. Menthol, the major chemical component of peppermint oil, may cause allergic reactions. Avoid prolonged use of the essential oil as an inhalant.

Mint should not be given to children for more than a week at a time without a break. Do not give any form of mint directly to young babies.

Peppermint can reduce milk flow; take internally with caution if breast feeding.

Check with the pediatrician before giving peppermint to a child.

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