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Peppermint

Mentha piperita

Herbs gallery - Peppermint



Common names

  • Balm Mint
  • Brandy Mint
  • Curled Mint
  • Lamb Mint
  • Lammint
  • Peppermint
  • Phudina
  • Wu-pa-ho

The peppermint is a very popular herb and many commercial products are prepared using this herb, and due to the tremendous popularity it has enjoyed as a flavoring agent and it is so widely used to make many kinds of edible and consumable products used for human consumption, it may be easy to believe that the peppermint is one of the oldest known herbs. However, the traditional use of the herb is fairly recent in contrast to its extreme popularity these days. In fact, the modern herb which has come to be called by the name peppermint is actually a naturally formed hybrid or cross of two herbs that sprouted in a field of spearmint, sometime in 1696 in England. The commercial use and cultivation of the peppermint, Mentha x piperita L. of the family Lamiaceae, has begun ever since and the herb has been intensively cultivated for its volatile oil - which is very pleasing to smell. The propagation of the peppermint is through vegetative means as the plant itself does not breed true from seeds. Numerous cultivated varieties of the peppermint herb are in existence at the present time - all of them are extensively cultivated for one commercial application or another.

The main use of the peppermint herb lies primarily to take advantage of its stimulating, stomachic and carminative properties in the body, thus the herb has been used in the treatment of indigestion, to alleviate the symptoms of flatulence - excess gas, and to treat disorders such as colic. Herbal teas of the peppermint are usually taken for the treatment of many disorders; the moderately warm herbal peppermint tea is prepared from the leaves of the herb. For fairly rapid relief from any symptom, patients usually slowly sip several cups of the tea at a time. The uses of peppermint as a combination herb is much more extensive in Europe, and the peppermint herb is often incorporated into many other tea mixtures, especially the ones which are for the purpose of alleviating various disorders arising in the stomach, to treat problems of the intestines, and to treat liver conditions. The common use of the peppermint is as a simple flavoring agent in most of these tea mixtures, although at the same time, its contribution to certain beneficial actions of these mixtures cannot be ruled out with certainty.

Another major use of the peppermint herb is in the form of an aid to the process of digestion; the volatile oil content of the herb is the primary agent responsible for this beneficial activity, this oil is found in the herb - most abundant in the leaves and the flowering tops of the herb - where the oil accumulates in concentrations which range from 1 to 3 percent. Different varieties contain different amounts of this volatile oil, and the American peppermint oil contains about 50 to 78 percent of free menthol and also another 5 to 20 percent of various combined forms - usually esters -  of the menthol. The ability of the peppermint to stimulate the flow of bile is largely because of these major chemical components present in the herb and at the same time, these same compounds help in promoting the process of digestion along with other components in the herb, such as the flavonoid pigments which display similar properties.

The volatile oil in the peppermint also additionally acts as spasmolytic agent, and this results in reduction of the tonus in the lower esophageal-cardial-sphincter and this result in the facilitation of eructation process - commonly known as belching. One direct area of possible application for this antispasmodic property of the herb may be seen in the popularity of peppermint herbal tea as a household remedy for painful menstrual cramps in women. Another property of the peppermint oil is its ability to temporarily inhibit the hunger pangs arising in the stomach, this effect is not lasting and the resumption of the peristaltic movements in the stomach will revive the hunger pangs, which then go on becoming stronger than before in a gradual manner as hunger builds up. The peppermint can thus be used as an appetite stimulant for this reason.

Thus in general the peppermint herb, which is really a fairly recent hybrid of the spearmint with the wild mint, is used both as herbal medicine and as a very popular flavoring in many commercial products. The plant is "young" and there was no plant called a peppermint until late in the seventeenth century as it was discovered only during that time. However, since the first discovery of its remarkable properties at the time, the peppermint has been extensively cultivated in many different parts of the world. Full use is made of both the leaf and the volatile oil - which is obtained by the process of industrial steam distillation.

The leaves of the peppermint herb may have between 1 and 3 percent of this essential oil and the leaves are where most of the oil in the plant is to be found. The chemical composition of the oil results in a definite compositional breakdown, about half of the oil is menthol - it can range from 35 to 55 percent in the European peppermint oil; and 50 to 78 percent in American peppermint oil, some related compounds form the remainder of the volatile oil. At the same time, the compound menthone composes about 10 to 35 percent of the total volume of oil. At least more than one hundred other chemical constituents are also present in small amounts in the oil; these include a variety of the compounds known as monoterpenes and the class of chemicals called sesquiterpenes. At the same time, the exact proportions of these different compounds differ depending on one variety of peppermint to another, this difference can also be noticed among similar varieties of plants albeit, those that have been grown in different locations. Peppermint leaves are also known for their content of the plant pigment compounds called the flavonoids, including the compound called luteolin, the common plant pigment rutin, and citrus pigments like the hesperidins, and many other compounds.

Refreshing analgesic oil

Combine the 2 ingredients in a bottle or glass jar. Store away from light for 1 month and shake every 2 to 3 days. Strain.
Use in the case of pain, headaches, intestinal or muscle cramps: by massaging or by applying a topical compress depending on the area requiring treatment.
Can be kept for 1 year away from light.

Herbal steam facial

Exposing your skin to steam helps to moisturize it and, at the same time, cleanse the pores, which augmenting the blood circulation of the surface of the skin. Many herbs possess the aptitude to make steaming invigorating as well as comforting. The ingredients required for a herbal steam facial are mentioned below, but you are free to substitute some of them with different fragrant or astringent herbs, for instance, dried up leaves of yarrow and sage, flowers of lavender as well as fresh or dehydrated parsley. Instead of preparing your herbal steam facial in a sink, make it in a big bowl, primarily because the herbs may block the drainage of the sink.

The ingredients required for preparing an herbal steam facial are as follows:

  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 grams) of dehydrated flowers of chamomile
  • 1 tablespoonful (15 grams) of dehydrated spearmint or dried peppermint
  • 1 tablespoonful (15 grams) of dehydrated blooms of elderberry
  • 2 teaspoonfuls (30 grams) of powdered root of the herb licorice
  • 1 tablespoonful (15 grams) of fennel seeds
  • 1 quart of boiling water

To prepare this herbal facial, you should first mash the fennel seeds with a spoon and mix them with the other herbs in a big bowl that is heat-proof. Subsequently, pour the boiling water on this herbal mixture. Place your head over the bowl and cover it using a towel to form a tent. For best results, you should keep your face approximately one foot away from the water and take the steam for anything between five minutes to ten minutes. Eventually, gently use a towel to dry your face and apply any good moisturizing lotion in order to retain the moisture absorbed by your facial skin.

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Comments

From Cassie D. - Jun-07-2012
Peppermint instantly takes pain away from a minor burn if you crush the leaves and place the leaves (with the peppermint juice) on the burned area. Instantly cools and relieves the pain.
From Rory Griffin - 2010
Rubbing peppermint on the temples isn't the only way to get rid of headaches. Breathing in three deep breaths of the oil rubbed on the tips of the fingers is enough to rid the headache instantly.
Also, one could use peppermint flavored toothpaste if they don't have the oil (it's my substitute, and it works perfectly).
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