(Mentha x piperita)
Ah, the smell of peppermint. It is a wonderful, clean, crisp smell. It is reminiscent of a candy cane.
Peppermint is grown commercially in North America, Europe, and Asia. Many of us grown it in our home gardens as well. The leaves are harvested in Summer before the flowers appear.
The research on Peppermint essential oil shows it to be a strong antibacterial agent. Menthol, it's key volatile (essential) oil is antiseptic, antifungal, and an analgesic to the skin. You should never take the essential oil internally.
Peppermint tea is an excellent remedy for the digestive system. It helps to reduce cramps, and bloating from excess gas. It can help with a spastic colon. A spastic colon is often the cause of constipation in some people. Drinking a cup of peppermint tea after dinner will aid in the digestion.
If you apply peppermint to the skin, it can help relieve pain. You can do this by using a poultice, or by using the essential oil. Make sure to dilute the essential oil well into a carrier oil. Peppermint will burn if applied directly to the skin.
Stuffy? No problem. Dilute a few drops of essential oil onto a hanky and inhale for respiratory infections.
For headaches, dilute 1 drop of essential oil in 2 tablespoons of oil. Dab onto temples.
Having both the dried herb, and peppermint essential oil on hand can be a lifesaver when the belly starts to rumble, or the head starts to stumble.
Remember be sure not to take the essential oil internally. Peppermint should not be given to children under 5. The essential oil should not be used for children under 12.