What is Peppermint?
Peppermint is a crossbreed between water mint and spearmint. It was discovered in England around 1750 and now is grown worldwide with Europe and the US being the two primary producers of the mint. The leaves and stems of the peppermint plant have high oil content. Coincidentally, this is the part of the plant that is most used for herbal medicines.
Peppermint is a very special herbal medicine because many archaeologists regard it as the world’s oldest medicine. Archaeological evidence suggests that this herb has been used medicinally for over ten thousand years.
Widely used as a digestive aid through peppermint tea and pills, when taken internally peppermint can induce heat and improve blood flow. It also is used to help treat colds and coughs and other common illnesses that inhibit breathing as it helps to cool and numb the respiratory tract making it easier to breathe.
Peppermint is also one of the few herbs that can be used externally. Some common external uses of peppermint are lotions and creams that are used to help ease pains from arthritis. Also, many soaps and shampoos contain peppermint. This is because they leave the body with a minty, clean smell and also cool the skin and scalp as they are applied to the body. You can also find peppermint used as flavoring in many confectioneries, teas, chewing gums and even toothpaste.
Benefits of Peppermint:
Since peppermint is one of the few herbs that have both internal and external applications, there are many benefits associated with it. Along with being a digestive and respiratory aid, peppermint can be used to help treat many of the following problems.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Motion Sickness
- Appetite Loss
- Bacterial, Fungal and Viral Infections
- Muscle Spasms
- Bug Bites
Certain precautions must be applied when using peppermint. When adults use peppermint in small doses there is relatively little problems associated with use. The most common complaints are heartburn and allergic reactions to the herb. Parents should be advised when giving peppermint tea to young children because in a small number of instances the strong menthol taste given off by peppermint could potentially shock the child’s palette and could cause them to choke. It is best to avoid giving peppermint tea to infants.
Where and how to buy Peppermint
It is fairly easy to grow peppermint in your own garden. Seeds can be bought at many plant retailers nationwide and they can also be bought at any plant or herb shop online. Fully grown peppermint plants can also be purchased for a relatively cheap price. When buying a plant that has already grown it is best to purchase from a reliable source to ensure its organic qualities as well as its identity. Remember, it is always best to buy organic!
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