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Peppermint is a beautiful house plant that is easy to care for. With the United States being the largest producer of the plant it is no wonder that peppermint is easy to find in nurseries.
Personally, it is one of my favorite plants to own. I love everything about it! The beautiful color, the enticing scent, and it is safe around kids. In fact, my daughter loves to chew on the leaves. So much that we have begun to incorporate it into our meals. The leaves also make a wonderful tea for upset stomach.
So when I began my journey with essential oils, Peppermint Oil was one of the first ones that I purchased. There are so many companies that will sell their version of real peppermint essential, all at an affordable cost too. That is why it is important to confirm that the Latin name Mentha Piperita (L.) is present in the description and on the label.
Characteristics & Basic Information-
Peppermint essential oil is distilled from the entire plant: the leaves, flowers, and stems are all used during the distilling process. It also has some very strong and fresh aromas. The first thing that comes to mind, in fact, is candy canes and any person who smells quality peppermint oil will notice that it has a slight grassy, mint-like scent. True peppermint oil will either be clear in color or have a pale-yellow or pale-olive color to it and it does not stain a perfume blotter.
Peppermint originates from the Mediterranean area and throughout history there has been numerous accounts of this plant being used. It is believed that peppermint gets its name from the Greek myth of a nymph names Minthe. Minthe was the mistress to the Greek God of the underworld, Pluto. Legend has it that Pluto’s wife discovered Minthe in his arms and in a fit of rage and jealousy, killed her. Pluto brought Minthe back as a fragrant plant. (Herbalgram, 2006)
Records of the uses and preparation of peppermint were found in the oldest medical text, the Ebers papyrus. In Ancient Egypt, peppermint was used in a sacred incense and used as a ritual perfume. Later, it was used by Greeks and Romans would crown themselves with the aromatic plant during their feasts. They also used it to flavor their wines and sauces. Later in history, Aristotle referenced peppermint in his work as being an aphrodisiac. Alexander the Great discovered something similar; his soldiers were not allowed to have peppermint because it was believed to promote erotic thoughts and soldiers would lose the desire to fight. (Petersen, 2017)
Although these are just some instances about the long history of peppermint, it didn’t reach the western side of the world until the 18th century.
It is important for anyone who actively uses aromatherapy and essential oils to understand which constituents a plant contains. This will allow the user to better understand how an essential oil will evaporate and deteriorate over time. Understanding this allows for the chemical compounds to be better understood and properly utilized. it is because of some of these chemical compounds that certain oils need to have precautions taken when using them. There are dilution ratios that should be considered when it comes to certain essential oils as well.
- Peppermint M. piperita includes up to 42.8% of the alcohol l-menthol. This is the main constituent of Peppermint essential oil.
- There is also a presence of up to 19.4% menthone- a ketone that has with anticatarrhal, cell proliferant, expectorant, and vulnerary actions.
- Peppermint M. piperita contains the ester, menthyl acetate which are effective for fungal and yeast imbalances.
- There are numerous other constituents in Peppermint, however they range in very small quantities.
- Topically, peppermint should only be used for a limited time of 3 weeks and it should never be diluted above 1%. This means that for 1 ounce of base oil, no more than 6 drops should be used.
- A skin patch test should be conducted for people with sensitive and damaged skin.
- Although some studies have stated that this oil should not be used during the first trimester of pregnancy due to the ketones present, no actual evidence of this has been proven for the ketone, menthone, that is found in peppermint. However, care should be taken when using peppermint essential oil while pregnant.
- Care should be taken when used topically with children due to the cold and hot sensation if the dilution is too high.
- Dosage recommendations should be followed, peppermint in large doses can cause allergic reactions in the neck, throat, and mouth.
The Fun Part!
Using Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint oil is commonly referred to as an adaptogenic oil. This means that, depending on how it is needed, it can be sedating and stimulating. Aside from having an uplifting aroma, Peppermint essential oil has numerous health benefits.
Being an excellent analgesic & antispasmodic it can:
- Relieve nervous irritability
- Reduce or prevent involuntary muscle contractions and spasms
- Reduce cramps, headaches, neuralgia, sciatica, and shingles
- Beneficial to stop irritation from stings, bites, and itching
Powerful to use for gastrointestinal system problems:
- Neutralizes acid in stomach and intestinal tract
- Provides relief for nausea and vomiting
It has antibiotic actions that have been shown to:
- Relieve irritable bowel syndrome
- Relieves heartburn, indigestion, and gastritis
Since Peppermint oil is rubefacient (stimulating capillary dilation causing skin redness), it draws blood from deeper tissues and relieves congestion and inflammation.
It is also a vasoconstrictor, therefore it causes the blood vessels to constrict as well as a vasodilator, so it causes the blood vessels to dilate. For these reasons it beneficial for bruises, rheumatism, and tennis elbow.
Peppermint essential oil is a pretty amazing one. Not only is it something that I constantly add to my diffuser. Especially during the colder weather, there is something comforting in the aroma of it. You can bet that I have this or Cinnamon Bark constantly going!
In fact, two of my favorite ways to use it are as follows:
Mix 1 ounce of coconut oil with 6 drops of Peppermint oil. Massage on to temples and tips of the toes for combining with Reflexology.
Aching Muscle Relief
Mix 1 ounces of Sweet Almond Oil with 5 drops of Peppermint oil, 5 drops of Lavender oil, 5 drops of Roman Chamomile, and 5 drops of Eucalyptus. Use this to massage over sore, stiff, or aching muscles.
Petersen, D. (February, 2017). Introduction to Aromatherapy 17th Edition. Portland, OR: ACHS
Herbal Gram. (2006). Peppermint. Retrieved from: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue72/article3059.html?ts=1511637171&signature=d69c8399b6d3d370ee1d4f504c6e9138