No one really knows the origin of peppermint but it has been around for a long time. Dried leaves were found in Egyptian pyramids dating from about 1000 BC. Peppermint has many values including relieves gas, bloating and colic and has many other applications.
Peppermint is an aromatic herb with a fresh, minty scent and taste. Peppermint has cooling properties and is often found in skin care products, toothpaste, candies, mouthwash and is used in aromatherapy.
The volatile oil of the peppermint plant is strongly antibacterial. Menthol (found in the volatile oil) is antifungal, antiseptic, cooling and anesthetic to the skin.
Benefits of Peppermint:
- Peppermint is an excellent source of :
- Vitamin C and vitamin A.
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin B2
- Digestive Problems:
- Peppermint is excellent for the digestive system because it increases the flow of digestive juices and bile and relaxes the muscles of the gut. Often people will put a few drops of oil in with water and drink after a meal to aid in digestion.
- It reduces colic, cramps and gas and helps to soothe an irritate bowel. Alleviates irritable bowel syndrome.
- It soothes the lining and muscles of the colon to help relieve diarrhea and relieves a spastic colon.
- Dissolve gallstones.
- Ease nausea and vomiting.
- Improve digestion and reduce heartburn
- Stimulate appetite.
- Pain Relief:
- Applied to the skin, peppermint relieves pain and reduces sensitivity.
- Soothe muscle aches and control chronic pain (topically).
- Relieves headaches and migraines when applied to the temples and back of neck.
- Soothe itchiness from insect bites and hives (topically).
- Ease menstrual cramps.
- Applied topically helps relieve Shingle pain
- Diluted oil is used as an inhalant and chest rub for respiratory infections. The whole herb is important for digestive infections.
- Clear congestion and cough related to colds and allergies.
- Menthol helps subdue many disease-producing bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
- Anti Cancer:
- Perillyl alcohol which is found in the essential oil of peppermint and other plants has been shown to regress pancreatic, mammary, and liver tumors and has the ability to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
- Studies suggest that perillyl alcohol may have potential as a non-toxic preventative treatment for various types of human cancers.
- Relieves Athletes foot when applied topically.
- Dental Care:
- Peppermint oil, due to its antiseptic properties, is useful for dental care.
- Removes bad breath
- Helps teeth and gums deal with germs.
- It is also useful for treating toothaches.
- Respiratory Problems:
- Menthol, which is present in abundance in peppermint oil, helps in clearing the respiratory tract.
- It is an effective expectorant and instantaneous, though temporary, relief in respiratory problems including nasal congestion, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, cold and cough. It is used in numerous cold rubs. When these cold rubs are rubbed on the chest, they remove nasal and respiratory congestion immediately.
- Relieves Stress:
- Peppermint essential oil provides relief from stress, depression and mental exhaustion due to its refreshing nature. It is also effective against anxiety and restlessness. Simply place a small amount on a cotton ball and smell throughout the day.
- Immune System:
- Peppermint oil increases your immunity to diseases and helps in preventing a number of diseases.
- Blood Circulation:
- It also improves blood circulation.
- Hair Care:
- Peppermint oil is very useful for hair care as it gives a cooling effect to the head, and removes dandruff and lice.
- Skin Care:
- Menthol is good for skin. It gives a cooling effect, it nourishes dull skin and improves oily skin.
- Weight loss:
- Peppermint helps to increase the sense of fullness and satisfaction after eating.
- Smelling peppermint will help curb appetite resulting in fewer calories ingested.
- Hair Loss:
- Peppermint is used in hair growth products for its aromatic qualities as well as its ability to promote hair growth by stimulating circulation on the scalp. This stimulation promotes the development of new cells and stimulates hair follicles, resulting in hair growth.
As a child, whenever I had a cold my mom would put a "stinky rag" around my neck. The "stinky rag consisted of Vicks vapor rub or Menthol and rubbing alcohol spread onto a dish rag and pinned around my neck. Boy did it stink, but it helped relieve coughs and clear the mucous out. My kids get this same treatment today because it works better than any cold medicine that I have tried. Do not use on children under 2 years of age.
Peppermint can be found in herbal teas or in essential oils. You can find herbals teas at most grocery stores, in health food stores, Amazon, Doterra Oils, and Vitacost.