Peppermint is a hybrid perennial plant. The erect, square, branching stem is tinged with reddish-purple and has opposite, dark green, ovate to lanceolate, serrate leaves. Axillary and terminal spikes of small, purple flowers appear from July through September.
The whole plant has the characteristic small of menthol.
Family: Labiatae (Mint family)
Flowers: July – September
Parts Used: Leaves
Habitat: Moist soil. Eastern U.S. and Europe.
History: Colonists found the Indians using native American mints to treat cough, chest congestion, and pneumonia. The colonists introduced spearmint and peppermint, and the plants quickly went wild.
By the late 19th century, the Eclectics prescribed peppermint for headache, cough, bronchitis, stomach distress and menstrual discomforts, and added to laxatives to minimize intestinal cramping and disguise their unpleasant taste.
Constituents: Volatile oil (menthol, menthone, and menthylacetate, with smaller amounts of menthofuran, limonene, pulegone, cineole, bisabolene, isomenthol, neomenthol), flavonoids, phytol, rocopherols, carotenoids, betaine, choline, azulenes, rosmarinic acid, tannin.
Properties: Anodyne, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, refrigerant, stomachic, and tonic.
Main Uses: Peppermint tea or oil can be taken for nervousness, insomnia, cramps, coughs, migraine, poor digestion, heartburn, nausea, abdominal pains, and various problems such as headache and vomiting due to nervous causes. Externally, the leaves make a cooling and slightly anodyne application. They can also be made into a salve or a bath additive for itching skin conditions. Menthol vapors help relieve nasal, sinus, and chest congestion.
Preparation And Dosages:
Collect the leaves on a hot, sunny day, preferably before flowering time.
Infusion: Steep 2 to 3 teaspoons of the leaves in 1 cup water. Take 1-1/2 to 2 cups a day, but for no more than 8 to 12 days consecutively. Wait at least a week before resuming.
Oil: Take 3 to 4 drops on a sugar cube with hot tea. For gas pains, take 1 or 2 drops in half a glass of water.
Tincture: Take 10 to 50 drops, depending on age and severity of the problem.