Peppermint: botanical image of the peppermint plant


Mentha x piperita

Family: Laminaceae

Bio-Live: Peppermint is a key herb in Bio-Live Breathe and Bio-Live Revive.

Description: A perennial herb growing to approximately 50cm (1ft 8in) in height with quadrangular stems. Leaves are dark green, slightly paler on the underside, ovate – lanceolate in shape and opposites. The flowers are pinkish/mauve in colour, tubular with four lobes. It rarely produces seeds and is a hybrid species from Mentha spicata and Mentha aquatica.

Habit and cultivation: Grown throughout the world in gardens and commercially. Grows well in damp, moist environments alongside streams and waste lands. Propagated from seed or by cuttings, needing little attention. Best harvested before the flowers bloom in dry summer weather.

Actions (known for): Carminative, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, anti-emetic, nervine, anti-microbial and analgesic.

History: Its origin is still a mystery but it has been around for a long time. Found in the Egyptian pyramids dating from around 1000 BC. Valued highly by the Greeks and Romans medicinally and mentioned in Icelandic pharmacopoeias. It only became popular in Europe during the 18th century. Traditionally used to relieve intestinal gas associated with certain foods (after dinner mints), respiratory ailments and as a rub topically for sore muscles. Used world wide as a flavouring in food products, tea and cough preparations. Also used as a carminative in antacid preparations.

Parts used: Leaf.

Constituents (bio available chemicals): Essential oil 0.5 – 4%, primarily consisting of menthol and menthone. Flavonoids, tannins, triterpenes and bitter principles.

Nutritional constituents: Vitamins: A, C and niacin. Minerals: magnesium, potassium, copper, iodine, iron, silicon, and sulphur.

Indications: Aids indigestion, spasms of the GI, gallbladder, and bile ducts. Gastritis, enteritis, flatulence, IBS, constipation and diarrhea, common cold, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy, headaches and asthma.

Dosage: Liquid extract (1:2) 10 – 30ml per week. For upset stomach: 1tsp of dried or fresh herb made into a cup of tea and drunk 3-4 x daily. External analgesic: menthol in a cream no more than three times daily. Tension headaches: a light coating of tincture of oil applied to the entire forehead with finger tips; if there is occipital pain, apply also to back of neck. Nausea and vomiting: 3 – 6g or 5 – 10 drops of tincture in warm water and sipped slowly.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia: Flatulence and digestive pain.

Cautions for therapeutic doses: Essential oil should not be applied directly to the skin. Peppermint oil is contraindicated by biliary tract obstruction, cholecystitis and severe liver damage. Should not be applied to facial area of babies and young children.

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