Mentha piperita, or better known as peppermint is a perennial plant that is a member of the family Lamiaceae. Peppermint is actually a natural hybrid plant, being a cross between water mint and spearmint. This herb can be known by many other name as well including Brandy Mint, Black Peppermint, White Peppermint, Northern Mint, Lamb Mint, and American Peppermint. Mint is an herb that has been in use since ancient times for its medicinal and culinary purposes. The name mint, according to Greek mythology, came from the nymph Minthe who was turned into a plant by Persephone. This was the result of Persephone’s jealous rage at finding out that her husband Pluto was in love with Minthe. Because Pluto could not reverse this spell, he gave Minthe a sweet smell so that when she walked in the garden, she would delight the senses. Peppermint is native to Europe, however oil production and cultivation in the United States began in the 1790s. Did you know that some companies in Japan actually pipe peppermint oil into their air conditioning systems to help motivate their employees and increase productivity?
This perennial herb can grow anywhere from 1 to almost 3 feet tall and has very smooth stems. Its roots are very fleshy and wide-spread. The leaves of the peppermint plant are dark greenish-purple in color and can grow 1 and a half to 3 and half inches long and 1 to 1 and a half inches wide. They are lance-shaped, slightly fuzzy, and have very coarsely-toothed edges. It has tiny purple flowers that grow in whorls and terminal spikes on the plant.
Peppermint can be used in many different products and industries. Besides being known for its culinary and medicinal purposes, it can also be used for skin care, bath and body products, soap making, and even for hair care. Common bath and body products that can include peppermint are scrubs, bath bombs, bath salts, lotions, creams, ointments, facial masks, bath teas, shampoos and conditioners, face tonics, natural herbal waters, and even homemade eye pillows. Did you know that ancient Assyrians offered peppermint to their fire god?
Like any other plant, peppermint has its own conditions needed in which to grow properly. However, because it is a hybrid of spearmint and water mint, peppermint is usually a sterile plant and does not produce any seeds. This means that it can only reproduce by its roots or rhizomes spreading. This plant prefers to grow in rich soils that are high in loam and well-drained. It also prefers areas with partial sun exposure, however it can still thrive in areas with full exposure. Each plant should be planted about 2 feet apart so as to give the roots enough room to grow properly. It can survive in very extreme conditions, and should be planted in soils with a pH balance of 6.0 to 7.0. Since it typically grows in moist habitats, peppermint is most commonly found in areas like drainage ditches and along stream sides.
After first being planted, peppermint usually needs to grow for about 2 to 3 months before it is ready to be harvested. The plant itself can be planted anytime in late winter or during early spring time. As soon as they begin to grow, the leaves can start to be harvested. It is said that the brand new leaves of the plant will have the best flavor. The flowers of the plant will bloom from June to September. Peppermint should be replanted every 3 to 4 years so that the scent and patch will both stay strong.
There are some pests and diseases that can affect the peppermint plant. While it is young, it is vulnerable to bugs like spider mites, flea beetles, aphids, slugs, whiteflies, blackflies, and snails. There are cut worms that can chew through the plant and its stems, which can actually destroy the entire plant. Peppermint is susceptible to diseases like anthracnose, mint rust, and verticillium wult.
Uses in Industries
One of the most well known uses for peppermint is for culinary purposes. Peppermint is the oldest and most popular herb used for mint flavored foods. In 79 AD, Pliny the elder wrote that the ancient Greeks and Romans used peppermint to flavor their sauces and wines. Peppermint is often used to make an herbal tea, and can also be used as an ingredient for ice cream, candy, pies, chewing gum, and even toothpastes. The flowers of the plant can even produce a mild honey. Peppermint oil can be used as an ingredient for many baked goods and cough candies. In the Middle East, peppermint can be blended with yogurt, cheese, and beans and can be used as a spice to flavor lamb and other meats. Peppermint leaves can even be added to cocktails.
Bath and Body Products
Peppermint can be used in many different industries and products. Besides its culinary purposes, it can also be used for hair care, soap making, skin care, medicinal purposes, and bath and body products. When used in eye pillow recipes, peppermint assists in relieving headaches.
Common bath and body products that can include peppermint are face tonics, bath bombs, bath teas, scrubs, creams, ointments, lotions, soaps, bath salts, shampoos and conditioners, and facial masks.
Your hair can greatly benefit from peppermint. Peppermint can help to treat dandruff and dry scalp, also working to soothe and heal the scalp, getting rid of excess oils and helping your hair not to feel greasy. Peppermint also works to prevent itching, moisturizes the hair, nourishes the hair, and promotes blood circulation. Peppermint even works to stimulate the hair follicles and promote new hair growth.
For skin care, peppermint helps to cool and even numb the skin, and treat many skin irritations. Peppermint works to control and treat acne, tone the skin, and brightens dull skin. It also promotes healthy skin, works as a great exfoliant, and works to clear the skin and absorb any excess oils.
There are many amazing medicinal benefits to using peppermint and peppermint oil. It contains many important vitamins and minerals including copper, magnesium, iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins A and C. Peppermint also contains menthol which is said to help loosen phlegm and soothe coughs.
In ancient Greece, the people actually perfumed their entire bodies with mint. It was used to freshen their breath, whiten their teeth, and was even considered an aphrodisiac.
When used for aromatherapy, peppermint oil works to support the upper respiratory system. It helps to relieve colds, asthma, bronchitis, and sinusitis. It can also be used to clear nasal congestion.
Peppermint oil also may help to relieve irritable bowel syndrome. It works to relieve the diarrhea, flatulence, pain, and bloating. Peppermint oil also works to treat indigestion, helping to treat upset stomachs and relaxing the muscles that allow gas to pass.
Peppermint oil contains a phytonutrient called monoterpene. Monoterpene can be used to treat and fight mammary, pancreatic, and liver tumors. It also can protect from skin, lungs, and colon cancer.
There are many other conditions that can treated using peppermint including nausea, heart burn, vomiting, morning sickness, cramps, toothaches, mouth and throat inflammation, colic, menstrual problems, fungal nail infection, tuberculosis, stress, urinary tract infections, and even any overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
Small children and infants should not use peppermint around their faces or chests because of the menthol. It can possibly induce conditions like acute respiratory distress, apnea, bronchial spasms, and even respiratory arrest.
Peppermint oil is used for its aroma in plumbing and construction to test the tightness of pipes and disclosing any leaks.
The United States is the world leader in production of peppermint oil, managing to annually produce 4,117 tons on average.
Nature’s Garden sells peppermint leaves, peppermint leaf powder, and peppermint essential oil for external use only. We do not sell it as a food item. The information above talks about how great peppermint is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.
Wondering what projects to try out with this great herb? Well then check out our free recipes for our Sinus Relief Bath Bombs and our Refreshing Face Mask. Or try out our Rejuvenating Foot Balm and our Chocolate Peppermint Lip Balm, both made with our Peppermint Essential Oil! Make sure to check out all the rest of our free recipes and classes as well!