Don’t you just love that the answers to many of our common complaints and ailments can be solved naturally? Nature provides us with such an amazing array of plants and herbs to nurse and heal our every need. There are herbs that help us fight off infection, clean our teeth, pamper our skin and flavor our food. Amazingly, peppermint is one of those herbs that can do all of this and more. In fact, peppermint is one the most important herbs in the herbalists' medicine cabinet. Let’s take a closer look to find out why.
What is it?
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a perennial herb native to Europe that was discovered in 1696. Once thought to be its own species, it was discovered that peppermint is actually a hybrid of the watermint and spearmint plants. The leaves contain approximately 40% menthol depending on the region in which it is grown . Menthol, the prized component of peppermint, is what gives it its cool, refreshing , soothing feel.
Mint (most likely spearmint) was prized by ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. It was used not only to flavor food but to treat a variety of physical ailments as well. According to ancient writings and relics, in addition to its use in food, mint was used to scent bathwater, make mouthwash and treat stomach ailments. The Romans even crowned their heads with it.
Today, peppermint is used in a similar way. We use it to flavor and enhance food, to ease our aches and pains, to soothe symptoms of indigestion and IBS, and topically to relieve acne, eczema, muscle aches and tension headaches.
Foods and Beverages
Peppermint can be found in a variety of the foods and beverages we use today. We use it to make tea, gum, mints, candies, ice-cream and many savory foods as well.
Benefits for the body
Medicinally it is used to treat bad breath (tooth paste, mouth wash), tooth pain, nausea, congestion, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, congestion (topically), muscle aches (topically) and tension headaches. In the lab, peppermint has shown some promising activity in its anti-microbial and anti-fungal abilities.
Benefits for the skin
- Antimicrobial and antiviral great to use as an overall tonic for skin to help prevent (and care for) acne and to stave off infections.
- Cooling and refreshing
- Soothing eases skin irritation (itching, inflammation and redness)
- Stimulating - the scent of peppermint is stimulating and energizing and helps wake you up.
Do you love peppermint? Not sure about peppermint? Try this easy to make refreshing DIY Coco-Mint Sugar Foot Scrub that takes just 5 minutes to make.
We use peppermint oil in our refreshing and rejuvenating luxury sugar scrub: Revival- Rosemary Mint Hemp Sugar Scrub. It will leave your skin silky smooth yet soft and refreshed!
Johnson, Rebecca L.; Foster, Steven; Low Dog, Tieraona; Kiefer, David. National Geographic Guide To Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2010. Print.
Shealy, Norman C. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies. Hammersmith, London. HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002. Print