Peppermint

Family: Labiatae; other members include balm, basil, catnip, horehound, marjoram and pennyroyal

Genus and species: Mentha piperita (peppermint); M. spicata, M. viridian, M. aquatics, M. cardiaca (spearmint)

Also known as: No other names but there are hundreds of varieties of mint

Parts used: Leaves and flowers

Therapeutic Uses

Digestive problems – menthol and carbone soothe the smooth muscle lining the digestive tract, preventing muscle spasms, which means that they are antispasmodics. I personally use this to help when I have an upset stomach or nausea.  One (1) drop of high quality peppermint essential oil is what I use.

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Irritable bowel syndrome – also known as spastic colon and functional bowel disorder – causes a variety of symptoms; abdominal cramps, bloating,flatulence, diarrhea or constipation an possibly heartburn and queasiness.

Pain – menthol has considerable anesthetic power.  Many over the counter pain-relieving skin creams contain menthol.  It also helps with insect bites and stings as well as rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak and sumac.

Congestion – menthol vapors do indeed help relieve nasal, sinus and chest congestion.  When my sinuses or allergies are acting up, I place 1 (one) drop on my upper lip just under each nostril and breathe in deeply.  It helps open up my sinus and even helps with any chest congestion that I might also have.

Coughs – it’s an excellent cough suppressant.

Infections – in numerous studies menthol is germicidal.  It can kill several types of bacteria and herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores and genital herpes.

Headaches – rub on your forehead and temples to help with relief. You can mix with eucalyptus oils but the greater relief was with mostly peppermint oil.

Women’s health concerns – with medicinal concentrations of peppermint may promote menstruation.  If pregnant use peppermint teas instead of straight oils.  If you have a history of miscarriage you should not use this herb while you are pregnant.

Rx Recommendations

For an anesthetic to treat wounds, burns, scalds and herpes sores, apply a few drops of peppermint oil directly to the affected area.

For a decongestant, cough-suppressant, or digestive infusion, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried peppermint or spearmint per cup of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes and strain.  Drink up to 3 cups a day.  Peppermint has a sharper taste than spearmint, and it cools the mouth.

As a homemade tincture, take 1/4 to 1 teaspoon up to three times a day.

For an herbal bath,, fill a cloth bag with a handful of dried to fresh herb and let the water run over it.  You can do the same thing in the shower, attach it to your shower head.

You can give diluted preparations cautiously to children under 2 but they may gag.

Safety

As a dried plant material, it has not been reported to cause problems, except for skin irritation in sensitive individuals.

Do NOT ingest pure menthol.  As little s a teaspoon (about 2 grams) can be fatal.  Since pure peppermint oil has also been found to produce toxic effects, such as heart rhythm disturbances (cardiac arrhythmias), do not ingest peppermint oil either.

Growing Information

Very easy to grow by cuttings.  Contain your mint bed or plant in containers.  Frequent cutting encourages bushiness.  You may harvest leaves as they mature.  Cut the entire plant back to within a few inches of the ground when the first flowers appear.  Most species become woody after a few years so dig them out and plant new root cuttings.

You can use what you harvest to make your own tinctures.Peppermint