Peppermint is a hybrid between spearmint and watermint. It is a perennial plant that can grow up to 35 inches tall. Like the spearmint, it is an invasive plant where the rhizomes allow the plant to quickly spread over the ground. “The leaves are from 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 1.5–4 cm (0.59–1.57 in) broad, dark green with reddish veins, and with an acute apex and coarsely toothed margins” (Wikipedia). Where the spearmint leaves are smooth, the ones on the peppermint plant have a fuzzy feel as you stroke a finger along them and also along the stalk.
While it is ingenious in the Middle East and Europe, it is cultivated and grown in many countries around the world. While not as old as spearmint, peppermint has a long history itself as both a culinary and medicinal plant. Dating back to 79 A. D., this plant was used for decorative purposes and as a flavoring for meals, teas and wine. As the use of peppermint became popular, this plant-once ingenious in the Middle East and Europe-soon was cultivated and grown in many countries around the world. While it was a delicious ingredient for ice cream toppings, candy, chewing gum and toothpaste, people started discovering the health properties of peppermint. While you may not like the strong taste of peppermint, compared to the lighter taste of spearmint, you may want to reconsider and keep some of this mint in your house.
Peppermint is a natural pain reliever because it contains anti-inflammatory properties. To get rid of pain of headaches, sprains, sore muscles, arthritic pain, massage peppermint essential oil onto the hurting parts and watch the pain disappear. For sore throat pain make a cup of hot water and steep 2-3 peppermint leaves in it. After 10 minutes, drink this throat soothing tea. While some people advise using 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil in your tea, it is best not to do this. This essential oil can have harmful side effects if taken internally.
Even if you are not suffering from sore throat pain, drinking peppermint tea helps stimulate the flow of digestive juices and helps move moisture throughout the digestive system. It is excellent tea to drink if you suffer from constipation. This tea also helps relive the discomfort of:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Colic in Infants
Peppermint is also excellent to treat respiratory problems. It plays a role in easing coughs. That is one of the main reasons why the most effective cough medicines are the ones that contain peppermint. Even when you inhale the aroma of this mint, you nasal passageways widen, which helps clear up sinus congestion. In addition to the above, if you suffer from hay fever, bronchitis, asthma and upper respiratory infections, drinking peppermint tea plays wonders.
Peppermint contains calming and relaxing properties. This mint is effective in making you calm when you are under stress. Even if you suffer from insomnia, these properties help you get the sleep you need. If you don’t want to drink a cup of tea before you go to bed, warm up a glass of milk and crush 2-3 leaves in the milk.
Peppermint is excellent for your skin. Not only are the astringent properties good for treating conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema, it is effective in treating chapped skin. Many breast feeding mothers swear by this, stating that it prevents cracked nipples when they are nursing. Even rubbing the leaves of this plant are a good way to treat bee stings and mosquito bites/
You can purchase many peppermint products at your local grocery or health food store. These products include:
Never consume peppermint essential oil. This is meant for external use only. Ingesting essential oils can be harmful and even fatal.
Always talk to your doctor before you start any home remedy. Peppermint may interact with any medications and supplements that you may be already taking.