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Peppermint as an Herb

Peppermint as an herb plant

Mentha x piperita

Other Names: Brandy Mint, Lamb Mint

Peppermint is the leaf of a hybrid between Spearmint and watermint. This plant is found throughout Europe, in moist situations, along stream banks and in waste lands, but is not a common native plant. It was first grown commercially in England about 1750.

In America it is probably even more common than spearmint, having long been known and grown in gardens. Today peppermint is produced commercially in Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The United States are now the most important producers of peppermint essential oil.

Two species of mint were used by the ancient Greek physicians, but some writers doubt whether either was the modern Peppermint as we now know it.

A small amount of Peppermint oil of good quality is distilled from plantations in Germany, at Miltitz, in Saxony and near Leipzig, where the little town of Colleda, before the War, annually produced as much as 40,000 cwt. of the herb. Russia also produces some Peppermint in the Ukraine and the Caucasus, but most of it is used in the country itself.

Peppermint oil thickens and becomes reddish with age, but improves in mellowness, even if kept as long as ten or fourteen years.

Peppermint oil and IBS. According to a 2014 Journal of Gastroenterology review of treatments, enteric-coated peppermint oil is considered a first line of treatment for IBS cramps and pain.

How to take. Steep 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and cool. Drink the tea 4 or 5 times a day between meals. Or take one or two capsules containing 0.2ml of peppermint oil 2 or 3 times a day.

Word of Caution. Peppermint may worsen gallstones and make symptoms worse for people with GERD. Large doses of peppermint oil can be toxic, and pure menthol is poisonous and should never be taken internally.

Peppermint as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

The medicinal parts of the peppermint plant are the oil extracted from the aerial parts of the flowering plant, the dried leaves and flowering branch tips, the fresh flowering plant and the whole plant.

Peppermint is approved by Commission E for liver and gallbladder complaints and dyspeptic complaints.

Peppermint is first mentioned in the medical literature of the early 1700s. Samuel Stern described it in 1801 in The American Herbal: "It is a stimulant. It restores the functions of the stomach, promotes digestion, stops vomiting, cures the hiccups, flatulent colic, hysterical depressions, and other like complaints."

Recent research on peppermint has examined its essential oil which has shown it to be antibacterial and antiviral; plus, it reduces muscle spasms.

Inhalation of peppermint essential oil is thought to help ease congestion from colds and improve breathing.

In its 1990 review of over the counter drugs, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration dropped the oil from its former status as a nonprescription drug in the United States, most likely because no data on its safety or effectiveness were submitted by the industry. It is still widely used and approved in Europe.

The local anaesthetic action of Peppermint oil is exceptionally strong. It is also a powerful antiseptic, the two properties making it valuable in the relief of toothache and in the treatment of cavities in the teeth.

Peppermint Oil is approved by Commission E for:

  • Common cold
  • Cough/bronchitis
  • Fevers and cold
  • Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
  • Liver and gallbladder complaints
  • Dyspeptic complaints
  • Tendency to infection

In folk medicine, peppermint oil is used externally for myalgia and neuralgia.

Peppermint oil applied to the feet of humans or animals is helpful with reducing a fever.

Peppermint leaf tea has been traditionally used for indigestion, nausea, colds, headache, and cramps.Digestive tract problems including irritable bowel syndrome and nausea can be relieved by drinking peppermint tea. If queasiness, nausea, or a feeling of fullness is a problem, a single cup of peppermint tea will often bring relief. Because of the herb's antispasmodic effects, peppermint eases gas pain and heartburn.

Peppermint Water Peppermint water and spirit of Peppermint are official preparations of the British Pharmacopoeia.

In flatulent colic, spirit of Peppermint in hot water is a good household remedy, with the oil given in doses of one or two drops on a sugar cube.

Peppermint raises internal heat and induces perspiration, although its strength is soon exhausted. In slight colds or early indications of disease, the use of Peppermint tea will, in most cases, effect a cure. Try an infusion of 1 ounce of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water, taken in wineglassful doses. Sugar and milk may be added if desired.

Auto Expectorant:  Take a large drop of the essential oil Peppermint and place it on the back of your hand. Lick up the oil with the hindermost possible part of your tongue and allow the oil to coat the inside of your throat. This acts as a natural expectorant without the need to "force" it out.

Food poisoning. Peppermint oil is effective against food poisoning, as shown by its amazing ability to stop the growth of Salmonella bacteria. Japanese experiments with a number of foods stored at 86 degrees for two days showed that peppernint oil stopped the growth of Salmonella and slowed the growth of Listeria, another harmful type of microbe.

Gallstones. During an acute attack, peppermint relieves mild spasms of the bile duct. It also helps to dissolve gallstones and increase bile flow.

Headache and Stress

When applied topically, peppermint oil can relieve headache. Researchers at Christian-Albrecht University in Germany found that peppermint oil, applied to the forehead, has the same pain-relieving effect as 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen, or two 500-milligram Tylenol tablets. In most subjects, regardless of age or sex or the duration of the headache, peppermint was just as effective at relieving pain as acetaminophen. Applying peppermint oil to the temples can also relax muscles and decrease tension.

Peppermint As a Breathing Oil

  1. Add a drop or two to a glass of water to help suppress a cough and open airways.
  2. Apply to the back of the neck to help cool the body as a possible fever reducer.
  3. Inhale deeply to wake up the lungs and increase alertness.

Crohn's Disease and Hepatitis

Peppermint oil helps to relieve digestive disturbances caused by chronic hepatitis, and it stimulates the release of bile, which helps to ease, Crohn's disease. In addition, British physicians have found a 40 percent reduction in the incidence of spasms caused by barium enemas when peppermint oil is given after this diagnostic test.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome a condition in which the intestines pass food through the colon before it is fully digested, causing cramping and diarrhea. Peppermint oil blocks the contractions of the smooth muscles lining the intestines, reversing some of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Useful in Insomnia

1 ounce Peppermint herb, cut fine, 1/2 ounce Rue herb, 1/2 OZ. Wood Betony. Well mix and place a large tablespoonful in a teacup, fill with boiling water, stir and cover for twenty minutes, strain and sweeten, and drink the warm infusion on going to bed.

Peppermint leaf tea has been traditionally used for indigestion, nausea, colds, headache, and cramps. Peppermint can ease motion sickness. Rub 2 drops of peppermint essential oil on abdomen area or inhale to help alleviate.

During the Middle Ages, besides culinary use, powdered mint leaves were used to whiten the teeth.

For Teething

A very useful and harmless preparation for children during teething is prepared as follows: 1/2 ounce Peppermint herb, 1/2 ounce skullcap, 1/2 ounce Pennyroyal herb. Pour on 1 pint of boiling water, cover and let it stand in a warm place thirty minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste, and given frequently in teaspoonful doses, warm.

Peppermint Lotion to Relieve Itching

Relieves itching. Oil of eucalyptus can be substituted from the peppermint oil.

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
3 to 4 drops peppermint oil

Pour the water and alcohol into a bottle, then add the oil. Cap and shake well. Apply to your skin with a clean cloth.

Corsica Mint

This mint not used for culinary purposes, but rather as a ground cover, or in rock gardens. It has tiny pepper-mint-scented, bright green leaves and miniature flowers.

Culinary Uses of Peppermint

The Egyptians used this herb to flavor food and wine.

According to Pliny, the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with peppermint leaves during feasts and used it as a culinary flavoring.

Iranian cuisine knows several highly sophisticated recipes employing peppermint; some of these were later transferred to northern India. Fresh mint leaves are often used in Turkish cooking together with yogurt and cucumber to make a tasty cool salad dressing. in Lebanon a very well known salad called tabouleh uses large amounts of chopped mint with parsly.

Modern Culinary Use

Float some fresh peppermint leaves in chilled summer drinks or add the herb as an ingredient in different fruit punches, enliven salads and hot or cold soups, season fish, prepared poultry and other white or red meats, put some zest to bean and lentil based dishes, use as a flavoring herb to bring out the flavor of cooked peas, new potatoes, and even baby carrots, by adding sprigs of fresh peppermint to the cooking water when these dishes are being prepared.

Peppermint can also be used fresh or dried, to season all kinds of savory dips, to add flavor to butter, to different types of sauces, and to jellies, the peppermint itself can be used to make the classic mint sauce or mint jelly which is usually served with roast lamb.

Infuse either individual or blended mints as a refreshing tea. Use for mint sauce, vinegar, and syrups and with chocolate in rich desserts. Add to new potatoes, peas, fruit salads, drinks and punches.

The peppermint and other mints are extensively used in the commercial industry to flavor various kinds of confectionery products, including chewing gum, many different kinds of soft drinks, to flavor baked goods and ice cream, to flavor gelatins and syrups, and to flavor liqueurs.

Blood Purifier Tea

Blood Purifier Tea

This warming tea not only purifies the blood, it lowers cholesterol, urea, and nitrogenous waste products that damage cells. It even cleanses the liver and skin, and soothes the gastrointestinal tract. Mix the following dried herbs (found in most health food stores) in a jar.

1/4 cup peppermint
1/4 cup ginger
1/4 cup globe artichoke

Add one teaspoon of the mixture (per cup of tea) to a tea strainer or tea ball. Pour boiling water over the tea strainer and let sit for five minutes. Sweeten with one to three drops of stevia per cup (if desired).

Folklore

Mint is a versatile healing plant. Use it in healing spells and incenses; stuff sachets with mint leaves to ward off disease. Mint also attracts money; carry a few leaves in your wallet for this purpose.

Peppermint Helps Fight Pests

To help keep flies away: Mix 25 drops of peppermint or lavender oil with 16 ounces purified water in large spray bottle. Can be used on counter tops, windows and doors. Shake well before each use.

To help keep squirrels, spiders or mice away place 3 to 6 drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball at the place they enter.

Cautions

Coated peppermint oil capsules may sometimes open in the stomach, causing heartburn and relaxation of throat muscles.

When using peppermint oil, it is important not to exceed the recommended dosage. Larger doses may cause burning, gastrointestinal upset, and even seizures. If you drink peppermint tea on a regular basis, take a few days' break after a week or two. People with chronic heartburn also should avoid this herb.

Peppermint oil should not be applied directly to mucous membranes, such as the nostrils, especially of infants and children.

The leaf and oil should not be used by anyone with gallbladder or bile duct obstruction, inflammation, or related conditions.

Peppermint can cause depletion or interference with the heartburn drug cisapride (Propulsid). You should avoid it altogether if you have any other type of gallbladder disorder.

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