Herb Series 8: Peppermint

Homesteading

This familiar mint scented plant isn’t just great for freshening breath and flavoring gums and candies. This wonderful herb has some great health benefits as well!

peppermint

Mentha piperita, White Peppermint, American Peppermint, Northern Mint, Lamb Mint, Brandy Mint, and Black Peppermint.

According to Mountain Rose Herbs:

“Peppermint is a flowering perennial, usually growing between 12 and 35 inches in height. It is native to Europe, and is actually a natural hybrid of spearmint and water mint. The herb is easy to grow in moist soil and is commonly cultivated around the world for its many applications in food and medicine.

The world’s most familiar “mint scent” is the aroma of peppermint. In Greek mythology, Menthe was turned into a peppermint plant when Proserpine, in a jealous rage, found out that Pluto was in love with her. Even earlier, Assyrians used peppermint as an offering to their fire god.

Peppermint contains an essential oil that is unique among mints for its quality and flavor. Artificial mint compounds do not effectively duplicate the aroma or medicinal properties.

Peppermint is one of the most popular herbs in teas, candies, and chewing gums. Cultivation and oil production started in the US in the 1790’s, and was a major export business by the mid 1800’s. The U.S. is still the world’s leading producer of peppermint oil, making an average of 4,117 tons annually. Some companies in Japan are said to pipe peppermint oil into their AC system to invigorate their workers and thereby increase productivity.”

In the Western world this refreshing herb is used to flavor candies, ice creams, pies and other desserts, muddled into cocktails, dried in herbal tea blends, toothpastes, mouthwash, chewing gum and cough drops. In Middle Eastern cuisine peppermint is popular in savory dishes. It is added to spice rubs to flavor most commonly lamb and other meats and it added to yogurt, beans and cheese.

In addition to it’s flavor contributions Peppermint is an effective medicinal plant as well. It is effective in supporting the gastrointestinal tract. Peppermint contains aromatic compounds that increase the production of digestive fluids, relieve muscle spasms, increase blood circulation, reduce pains, promote sweating and have antiseptic qualities. It also contains astringent compounds which shrink inflamed tissues making it a wonderful digestive aid that works to soothe the digestive tract in times of upset. It helps relieve morning sickness, motion sickness, stomach aches, gas, indigestion and heartburn.

Peppermint is soothing to the Upper Respiratory system and can be used for aromatherapy. Making a facial steam is said to help soothe irritated sinuses and alleviate allergies. It has calming effects and is naturally caffeine free so it can be used in the evening combined with lavender and chamomile to promote relaxation.

Peppermint is also very effective at relieving headaches and muscle soreness and tension. Diluted in carrier oil it can be rubbed on the back of the neck, temples and other sore muscles to relieve pain. It is also said to help promote hair growth and scalp health and is even an effective remedy for dandruff!

We drink peppermint and ginger tea if we have upset stomachs or need some digestive help after a heavy meal. We also used a diluted essential oil roll on of peppermint oil whenever we have headaches. It works wonderfully…we can’t live without it. I also use dried peppermint in my homemade mouthwash and hair strengthening spray.

Have you ever used Peppermint medicinally or otherwise?

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