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Herb Spotlight - Peppermint

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)  

Family: Lamiaceae

Part Used: Aerial parts

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet, Pungent, Bitter

Energetics: Cooling, Drying

  

Overview:

Peppermint has been utilized for its stomach-soothing abilities for centuries- it was discovered in the pyramids of the Ancient Egyptians, it was recorded to have been used in the thirteenth century by icelandic pharmacopoeias, and its use was noted by Ancient Greek physicians as well. There is no doubt that Peppermint has, and will continue to offer an incredible amount of medicinal support.3

Botany:

Peppermint grows as an aromatic, easily spreading perennial herb. It prefers full sun and rockier, disturbed soils, but will thrive in most conditions besides colder temperatures. Peppermint is a hybrid between the Spearmint and Watermint species. Its leaves are deep green in color with a slightly fuzzy texture, its stems are square and have a purple hue, and it will bloom purple, stacked flowers in the summer months.2

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Peppermint leaves are best harvested before or after its full expression of fragrant florals. They should be used immediately or dried before storage to preserve the volatile oils and other medicinal properties of the plant. Peppermint is native to the Middle East, and has been popularly cultivated worldwide.

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Wild Peppermint and related parent species, although sometimes tricky to spot, can be found in many areas of Southern Oregon. This herb has an affinity for bordering hiking trails and lining boulder-covered mountain sides. It grows well in rockier soil types, so keep a lookout when entering the Cascade and Klamath regions of the valley. Peppermint provides an aromatic addition to teas, salads, and has many more tasty applications. It should always be harvested with care, as to leave enough for fellow human and non-human foragers alike.

History and Folklore:

Peppermint has been used by various civilizations for centuries. Aristotle was noted to have used the leaf as an aphrodisiac, and Alexander the Great was recorded to have warned his troops of consuming Peppermint due to its ability to lessen their desires to fight. It was also used by the Ancient Romans to deter pests from the house by wiping the essential oils of the leaves on the infested floors.1,5

Pluto was said to have had an affair with a nymph called Minthe. His wife, hearing of this adultery, murdered Minthe in a fit of rage, leaving Pluto deeply saddened. He then decided to resurrect his lover, Minthe, as a beautiful, fragrant plant- Peppermint.1 

European Medicinal Uses: Peppermint leaves were chewed to relieve indigestion and toothaches. It has been used tonically to prevent gas and bloating, relieve stomach upset, and to remedy headaches. It was also noted to have been used to flavor a variety of cold and cough syrups, candies, and non edible products like lotions and soaps.1,2

Modern Applications:

Peppermint is widely researched as an anti nausea herb, supporting a variety of gastrointestinal ailments such as dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome3, and there is also significant research on its neurological effects on tension headaches as well. It is indicated to support muscle spasms and to help relieve bouts of diarrhea. It is popularly used to flavor various confections, cleaning products, and much more.

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Tablespoon per cup of warm water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

1-3 mL up to 4 times per day.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Recommended Usage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.

Precautions:

We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.

References:

  1. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/healthyingredients/Peppermint.html
  2. Mentha piperita. (n.d). https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/pereira/mentha-pipe.html
  3. Chumpitazi, BJ., Kearns, GL., Shulman, RJ. (March 4, 2018). Review article: the physiological effects and safety of peppermint oil and its efficacy in irritable bowel syndrome and other functional disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29372567
  4. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
  5. Blumenthal M, Hall T, Goldberg A, Kunz T, Dinda K, Brinckmann J, et al, editors. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 2003.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.