Peppermint is an aromatic perennial herb, native to Europe and Asia, that is a cross between spearmint and watermint. Its Latin name is Mentha x piperita which comes from the word “Mintha”, the Greek name of a nymph who was transformed into a mint plant, and “piper” meaning pepper, due to its spicy, pungent flavour.
Used for thousands of years for its pleasant taste, particularly in breath mints and sweets, peppermint is often enjoyed as a refreshing, caffeine-free tea. However, as the leaves contain several essential oils including menthol, menthone and limonene, it also has many health benefits, due to its antispasmodic, carminative, stomachic, tonic and antiseptic actions. Plus, as an added bonus, the peppermint herb is safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and can also soothe restlessness and colic in babies.
Medicinal Uses of Peppermint
Drinking hot peppermint tea stimulates bile and digestive secretions, making it a wonderful remedy for poor digestion, heartburn, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting during pregnancy, sudden pains / cramps in the stomach, flatulence and colic.
For anyone suffering from a ‘clogged head’ as a result of a cold or influenza, the herbal tea can be drunk or used as an inhalant, to clear blocked nasal / respiratory passages and make breathing easier.
If used as a nervine, it acts as a tonic to ease anxiety and its related conditions, such as tension headaches.
Fomentation of the leaves may also be used externally, as a bath additive, for prompt relief from itching and other skin conditions.
These are two of my favourite peppermint recipes:
- 50g Camomile
- 50g Fennel
- 50g Liquorice root
- 50g Peppermint
Prepare the mixed herbs as a hot infusion* and drink 3-4 cups daily, after meals.
- 50g Elder flower
- 50g Peppermint
- 50g Thyme
Prepare the mixed herbs as a hot infusion* and drink 2-4 cups daily.
*Preparation of Recipes:
Weigh each of the herbs listed in your chosen recipe, place them in a bowl, mix well and store in an airtight glass container, away from sunlight.
Infuse one heaped teaspoonful of the mixed herbs with one cup of boiling water, steep for 3-5 minutes and strain. The infusion can be stored for up to 24 hours, in a covered container in the fridge, and then consumed cold or gently warmed.