Grandmothers know everything, don’t they? Mention the slightest stomach pain or feeling of congestion, and a young girl may fondly recall her grandmother reaching into a handbag to reveal a red and white candy wrapped in clear plastic. For decades, I thought the solution of a peppermint candy was a remedy of distraction. Come to find out, my grandmother had knowledge of ancient cultures. Spanning thousands of years, peppermint has inspired improved health through its uncanny medicinal properties.
If you are near a peppermint plant, you can close your eyes and breathe deeply from a fair distance off and detect an aroma of mint. The smell encourages pleasant memories, a strong mentholated taste found in candy or added to creamy or hot drinks, such as hot chocolate. This is perhaps why peppermint is the number one selling flavor among non-chocolate hard candies.
In the late 1600s, the natural hybrid combining water mint and spearmint was discovered and named peppermint. Reaching 36 inches in height and expanding 24 inches in width, the plant can be quickly identified. If you have ever desired to grow “mint” in your garden, please be forewarned that all 25 species should be planted directly into a pot; otherwise, your garden will allow no other plants to grow except for those in the mint family.
Tip: To harvest, collect the leaves in the morning before the plant begins to bloom. This event often occurs during dry weather, July through August.
Peppermint Oil, a Natural Extract
It is a natural reaction to touch the leaf of an aromatic herb, rub your fingers together, and then smell. Most often, the aroma is produced by specialized cells on the underside of the leaves. The oil in peppermint is extensively used in both commercial and medicinal products. Among teas, candies, and drinks, peppermint is used in popular fragrances, specifically soaps and cosmetics, and as a flavoring agent for prescriptions and over the counter medications. To see what is aiding your good health, it is a wise to read all ingredients on products you are using or digesting.
While fresh and dried leaves can be purchased, often in bulk, peppermint is also available as a tincture or tea, oil capsule or tablet, and as an essential oil. Is it wonderful to know peppermint has several dietary uses and health benefits!
- Coughs and Colds: Menthol, an active ingredient in peppermint, acts as an expectorant and decongestant, can offer relief to sinus inflammation and respiratory symptoms connected to congestion and coughing, or to ease breathing difficulties. This wonderful herb can build a stronger immune system, and boost antimicrobial and antioxidant quantities.
- Digestion: While peppermint eases painful digestive problems, including gas, bloating, nausea, morning sickness, and cramping associated with the menstrual cycle, one study has also showed that 75% of participants, who took a dose of peppermint oil daily showed significant relief of the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Pain Relief: Applying the oil as a topical, the soothing sensation of peppermint is as powerful as 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen. It has relieved an extensive list of pain symptoms from a headache and general body aches, to muscle and nerve pain.
- Skin Enhancement: Peppermint oil added to water is capable of alleviating rashes and dry skin or scalp.
- Energy: The proximity to peppermint encourages a deep inhalation. The effects are instantaneous. The body will start to feel energized and alert.
Peppermint is wonderful herb for the soul, the skin, and the solution to feeling unwell. While there are wonderful teas featuring this incredible super ingredient, and several holidays to celebrate peppermint drinks and candies during the winter months, consider it a year-round remedy of deliciousness. This month, grow a peppermint plant in a semi-large container and watch how your health will bloom in new and unexpected ways.