PEPPERMINT

Mentha piperita

Description 

Part of the Lamiacaea family, Peppermint is a perennial plant with opposite leaves and hairy stems. The flowers are purple and bloom from mid-summer to autumn. Peppermint has a strong characteristic scent with an aromatic and cooling taste profile. Not to be confused with common Mint.

Habitat and Cultivation 

Prefers rich, damp, well-drained soils and dies back in winter. Frost resistant and drought tender.

Parts Used 

Leaves or aerial parts just prior to flowering.

Active Constituents / Volatile oils (menthol), flavonoids, Vitamins A, C, Niacin, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Zinc.

Actions

Carminative – improves digestion and relieves discomfort of flatulence and/or colic

Spasmolytic – counteracts or relieves spasmodic pains

Choleretic – stimulates the production of bile in the liver

Diaphoretic – increases perspiration and elimination through the skin

Anti-emetic – reduces or prevents nausea

Therapeutics

Widely used for soothing upsets of the digestive system, particularly spasms and indigestion. Peppermint helps to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract and alleviate nausea. A calming herb, Peppermint is also useful for decreasing nervous tension and aiding sleep.

 Safety / Contraindications / Interactions

The neat essential oil should not be applied directly to skin. 

Traditional Uses

In ancient Rome, Peppermint was placed under pillows to bring the sleeper good dreams.

Egyptians buried Peppermint with the deceased to protect them on their journey into the afterlife.

In the older Asian cultures, rolling peppermint in a scroll then passing on to someone else was considered a sign of friendship and love.

Peppermint was worn as a wreath around the head to alleviate hangovers.


References;

Materia Medica of Western Herbs by Carole Fisher

Herbs and Natural Supplements; An evidence-based guide 3rd edition by Lesley Braun and Marc Cohen

A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs by Kerry Bone

The Constituents of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Pengelly