Mentha piperita isn't just for the warmer months of summer — we can partner with the cool herb on the block year around! Peppermint is a gentle diffusive herb with many medicinal uses.
Peppermint can easily be confused with other members of the Mint or Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family. Spearmint, Lemon Balm, and Catnip also belong to the family and look super similar, therefore it's best to identify this big plant family with careful consideration.
When introducing yourself to a Mint member, it's best to identify the following characteristics to ensure it belongs in the family: square stalks, opposite leaves or leaves that grow directly across from one another on the stalk, and potent aromatics. Peppermint produces spikes of delicate purple flowers in mid-summer until fall. Peppermint leaf is well known for its strong aromatic menthol compounds. Simply touching fresh Peppermint leaves with your fingers will release its delightful aroma!
A visitor to the Peppermint patch! Credit: Lauren Nichols
Some think Mints are invasive, but I invite you to consider the sustainable partnership they may offer. Each spring, I can count on my Peppermint patch to peek out of the wet, cold ground and make its appearance for the season! Peppermint is a hardy perennial that prefers a bit of shade but can live through hot, dry conditions to a certain point.
Peppermint will spread very quickly when let loose in the garden. You can even replace an expensive front lawn with medicinal plants like Peppermint and save the pollinators while you save on lawn care!
Medicinal Uses and Traditions
Grandma always told me to drink a cup of Peppermint tea after dinner, as she knew the herb supports digestive function and encourages a healthy inflammation response. Peppermint has been long used in traditional herbalism for its aromatic volatile constituents, better known as essential oils, but separating the essential oils in large amounts is not suitable for oral or topical use. In fact, Peppermint essential oil must be diluted in order not to burn your skin for topical use! However, when diluted properly, Peppermint essential oil can be beneficial in topical joint ointments, vapor rubs, and professionally made bath salts.
Peppermint leaf extractions may also be taken orally when properly manufactured. For example, our new Magic Mint Breath Spray utilizes the whole plant extraction like what you would find in hot tea or an herbal tincture. It's safe for consumption because it does not contain isolated plant compounds. This formula freshens your breath and supports healthy microbial balance in the mouth!
Picture of Magic Mint Breath Spray. Credit: Lauren Nichols
The tissue found in your mouth is called epithelial tissue. Though this tissue regenerates quickly, it's important to treat it delicately. Our Gum Strength Oral Health Aid utilizes Peppermint's whole-plant leaf extraction to support healthy gums. In other words, its astringent actions help tone this delicate tissue.
Have you ever experienced a good sweat after consuming Peppermint? That's because the herb has warming energetics with potential secondary cooling effects. It's traditionally used to dispel heat through skin pores in moments of excess external heat conditions. Herbalists use Peppermint in herbal preparations for its ability to diffuse quickly throughout the body and direct plant friends the same way. For example, in Deep Stress Adrenal Rescue, Peppermint leaf works synergistically with Parsley, Thyme, Milky Oats, and Holy Basil to nourish the nervous system quickly and effectively. Like Rosemary, Peppermint contains rosmarinic acids, which are responsible for its diffusive support in the nervous system.
As with anything herb related, you should check with your practitioner to confirm that a partnership with Peppermint is right for your body. As mentioned earlier, the essential oils are super potent and most likely not suitable for pregnancy, new mothers, and baby. Its astringent energies may cause over drying in your body over time when not paired correctly with other herbs.
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Lauren Ann Nichols strives to provide educational and purposeful content. She attended The Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism and received her certificate in medical herbalism. She is the owner of Herbal Vice, a small-batch skincare company, and grows the herbs used in her products. She is currently a customer service representative at WishGarden Herbs.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.