Mentha x piperita

parts used: Aerial parts.

collection: The aerial parts should be collected on a dry day just before the flowers open. The stems are then tied together loosely into bunches and hung to dry. When dry place in an airtight container to prevent re-absorption of moisture.

cultivation: Peppermint is very easy to grow from seed planted in the spring. Different varieties are available from garden centres. It can be invasive so be prepared to chop it back hard in the summer.

constituents: The plant contains up to 2% essential oil containing tannins, menthol. Other constituents include menthone, jasmine, bitter principle, flavanoids.

actions: Carminative, antispasmodic, analgesic, nervine, antiseptic diaphoretic, aromatic, anti- emetic, antiseptic, source of potassium and magnesium, emmenagogue and enzyme activator.

indications:

digestive system

Peppermint has a great affinity with the digestive system and, as a carminative, antispasmodic and digestive juice and bile secretion stimulant; it can be used to treat indigestion, travel sickness, flatulence and colic. The essential oil acts as a mild anaesthetic to the stomach wall and allays feelings of nausea and the desire to vomit.

respiratory system

Peppermint is a cooling diaphoretic and useful for treating fevers associated with any type of infection, whether respiratory, digestive or urinary. This is especially useful when treating infants who have had a high fever causing febrile convulsions. Please note, however, that the essential oil is contraindicated in epilepsy as it is a mild neurotoxin in high doses due to its menthone content. The tea is safe, just avoid the oil for children, in high doses or for epileptics.

genitourinary system

It can be used as an antispasmodic to relieve painful period cramps and the associated emotional tension.

skin

Externally it can be used as a mild anaesthetic to relieve itching and is good to treat a hot eczema. It is best to use the essential oil blended at a 0.5% maximum dilution.

contraindications: Pregnancy, many sources will say it is safe, I am a little more cautious with respect to its menthone content.

preparations and dosage:

tea 2 teaspoons per cup, infuse for 10 minutes and drink freely.

tincture 1 part peppermint to 5 parts 45% alcohol. Take 2–4ml in water daily. inhalation 1 drop of oil in a bowl of steaming water.Inhale the steam for 5 minutes to treat headaches, colds and mental exhaustion.

essential oil to make a massage oil use 5–6 drops in 2 teaspoons of oil for cramps, spasms, muscular pains, lower back ache and stiff joints cream the essential oil can also be added to a base cream for use on hot skin conditions such as eczema, but be careful as it may cause irritation if the person has sensitive skin.

combinations: For fevers blend Peppermint with Elderflower and Yarrow. For digestive problems it works well with Chamomile and Marshmallow root.

This is an extract from Sorrell’s book

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