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Basics of Peppermint

Basics of the Peppermint Plant

Peppermint is the easiest herb to grow and has numerous healing benefits.
Peppermint has dated back to Biblical times and is also mentioned in the
world’s oldest medical text, the Ebers papyrus. The ancient Greeks used
many varieties of peppermint in healing remedies and religious means. The
Greeks were convinced that by utilizing this herb you could reanimate the
spirit, eliminate hiccups, cleanse the voice, or save someone from the
sting of a sea serpent. Peppermint is cultivated throughout the world
today. It has been prized as an “after dinner mint” since ancient days as
it aides in digestion and sweetens the breath. Peppermint also has uses in
gargles, lotions, bath additives and teas. Through Pinch of Comfort’s
experience, the soothing herb helps reduce inflammation, aching muscles,
and nausea. We have utilized this great plant in our Herbal Heating and
Cooling Pads and Lumbar Pads.

Peppermint is valued for its volatile oil properties, which is extracted
by steaming through distillation of the entire plant and will be colorless
to a pale yellow color. The properties include antiseptic, expectorant,
fights infections and viruses, and fungicide. The leaf has properties
separately which are carminative, anti-spasmodic, clears wind, mild
stimulant, and has a cooling effect on the skin. Other healing qualities
and attributes include relieving headaches, treating hiccups and
indigestion, morning and motion sickness, stress, hot flashes, and is
excellent for treating colds by adding the oil to a humidifier. The plant
is a safe therapy for pregnant woman from the fourth month forward.
Nervous or over excitable people may find it over-stimulating. Do not use
for babies or if you have a heart condition. Avoid use while using
homeopathic remedies.

Of the numerous varieties of this plant, there are six commonly used.
Peppermint – Mentha piperita
This herb is the child of water mint-Mentha aquatica and spearmint-Mentha
spicata and spreads by runners. This creeping perennial is invasive so
plant in an area where it is free to spread or in a container. It prefers
partial shade (will tolerate direct sun) and moist, rich soil. Pinch of
Comfort utilizes this variety in our Herbal Heating and Cooling Pads and
Lumbar Pads.
Spearmint – Mentha spicata
Mid green leaves and purplish flowers bloom mid-summer to early fall and
is used for sauces and to enhance the flavor of vegetables. Grows 1-2
feet high.
Apple-mint – Mentha rotundifolia
Growing taller than spearmint with a distinct flavor of apple.
Pennyroyal – Mentha pulegium
A great variety used for flavoring meats. If you would like to cut back
on mowing the lawn this variety works well as a 6-inch tall, creeping
alternative to be planted in steep areas.
Gingermint – Mentha gentilis variegata
A spreading striped gold leaf born on red tinted stems with lilac flowers
blooming in summer. Will grow 1×3 feet.
Pineapple Mint – Mentha suaveolens variegata
Spreading with crinkled leaves and cream stripes with pink to white
flowers blooming in summer. Will grow 3×3 feet.
The best times to plant are from April to June; be sure to compost yearly
with well-aged manure and water often in the beginning stages. Peppermint
leaves are susceptible to rust (dark pink spots prior to flowering). If
this occurs, cut to the ground. If this reappears destroy and plant new
plants in a different area. Do not compost the diseased plant. To
harvest, cut peppermint before the flowers open.

Peppermint has been used for centuries and is valued for its leaves and
essential oil. It gets its name from the Latin word “mentha” meaning
“mind” or “spirit”. Peppermint has numerous healing benefits, which will
further be discussed in the next post.

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