Peppermint is a great herb to keep onhand for its many uses. I love keeping this one in the cupboard because of its versatility. With some Peppermint tea, you can ease many ailments, and if you’re handy in the garden, you can even grow your own.
Identifying: Peppermint grows 12 – 36″ tall and has pale violet flowers which grow in loose, interrupted terminal spikes. The plant flowers from June to frost. Peppermint’s stems are purplish and smooth with a few hairs. The leaves are dark green. If you pick a leaf and crush it, you’re certain to notice the familiar scent of Peppermint.
Parts Used: Leaves
Harvesting: You should harvest Peppermint between the end of July and the end of August. Pick a dry, sunny day. I like to harvest herbs right after the morning dew has dried or in the evening before the dew settles again. You can gather the stems in small bundles and secure the ends with rubber bands and hang them to dry (out of the sun) or you can use a food dehydrator to dry just the leaves. After the leaves are completely dry (no softness left at all), you can store the leaves in a jar out of the light.
Medicinal Uses: : The tea can be used for colds, fevers, indigestion, gas stomachaches, headaches, nervous tension, insomnia, flatulence, morning sickness, even chicken pox. Peppermint extract is showing to be effective against herpes simplex and Newcastle disease. The essential oil stops smooth muscle spasms. Azulene in Peppermint is an anti-inflammatory and is anti-ulcer. Enteric-coated Peppermint capsules are often used in Europe for IBS. Germany approved the use of Peppermint for relief of muscle spasms of gastrointestinal tract and spasms of the gallbladder and bile ducts. Essential oil is used externally to treat nuralgia and myalgia. Place 2 –4 drops in a cup of warm water and mix it well to counteract nausea and vomiting and for the relief of intestinal gas and bowel irritation.
Chinese Medicinal Uses: For fever and headaches that come with certain colds and flu; used when yellow or green mucous is present with a fever. Also used for skin lesions.
Allergic Reactions: Do NOT use on infants! Peppermint and any other menthol product is too strong for an infant and can collapse their lungs. Some people experience dermatitis from herb contact; in cases of gallbladder or bile duct obstruction, you should not use Peppermint.
Interesting Notes: Peppermint is actually a hybrid which was first produced by mixing Spearmint (M. spicata) and Watermint (M. aquatica). It is native to Europe.