Peppermint

Mentha piperita, Labiatae. The aerial parts of the plant are used.

The aerial parts are collected just before the flowers open.

Functions of peppermint

Peppermint is both cooling and warming. When taken internally it is warming. It:

  • improves the circulation and causes sweating. This is helpful in fevers, colds and flu. Its astringent and decongestant action also helps relieve stuffiness and catarrh.
  • makes a good general tonic, to recharge the energy and reduce lethargy.
  • has an analgesic effect which makes it an excellent local application when fresh leaves or a lotion is applied to relieve the pain associated with inflamed joints in arthritis and gout, for headaches, neuralgia, sciatica and general aches and pains.
  • has a relaxing effect when taken internally which is useful for calming anxiety and tension and relieving pain and spasm.
  • can be used for menstrual pain, asthma and insomnia.
  • sooths and relaxes muscles and reduces inflammation in the digestive tract. It is helpful in stomach aches, colic, flatulence, heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting and travel sickness. The tannins help to protect the digestive tract lining and can assist in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • has bitters which stimulate and cleanse the liver and gall bladder.
  • has antiseptic actions which are antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal and are useful for the treatment of skin problems such as cold sores and ringworms.

Notes on peppermint

  • Avoid using peppermint oil with babies

Dosages

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk as often as desired.

Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times per day.

For the gardener

Both peppermint and spearmint are readily grown in moist soil in the sun or part shade. They can be grown from seed or root division in spring or summer. As they both spread rapidly from underground runners they should be contained and they do grow well in pots.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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