Herb: PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita; Labiatae)
Other Names: brandy mint, lamb mint. (2)
Brandy mint, curled mint, balm mint. (57)
Character/Energetics: spicy, bitter, slightly cool (6)
pungent, dry, generally cooling (15)
Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected: lungs, liver (6)
stomach, intestines, muscles and circulation. (14)
Parts Used: leaves (6)
Aerial parts (9)
Identification & Harvesting: A perennial, 1′-3′ high; stems are usually branched and normally smooth. Short-stemmed leaves, oblong-ovate and serrate. Has runners above and under ground. Violet flowers, smooth inside; has an even margin divided into four parts. Cultivated in US and Europe. Harvest several times a year. Maximum leaf harvest ahd highest oil content is shortly before flowering season. Dry at 100 F. (2)
The aerial parts are collected just before the flowers open (9) (15)
Stem usually purplish, 2-4 feet high, quadrangular, leaves stalked, 2-3 inches long and 3/4 to 1-1/2 inch broad, serrate, slightly but not visibly hairy. Taste and odor are characteristic. (57)
Native to Europe. Produced commercially in Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. (61)
Active Constituents: Volatile oils, chiefly menthol 35-45%, mentone 15-20%, menthyl acetate 3-5%, neomenthol 2.5-3.5%, isomenthone 2-3%, menthofurane 2-7%, also limonene, pulegone, alpha- and beta-pinene, trans-sabinene hydrate; caffeic acid incl. rosmaric acid; flavonoids incl. apigenine- diosmetin- and luteolin glycoside, free lipophile methoxylized flavone incl. xanthomicrol, gardenine D. (2)
essential oil, mentol menthone, fasmone, tannic (labiatic acid), bitter principle (6) up to 2% volatile oil containing menthol, menthone and jasmone; tannins… (9) …flavonoids, tocopherols, choline… (15)
Actions: Spasmolytic effect on smooth muscle of the digestive tract; also a cholagogic and carminative, antibacterial, secretolytic. (2)
diaphoretic, aromatic, carminative, calmative, mild alterative (6) …anti-spasmodic, anti-emetic, nervine, antiseptic, analgesic, diaphoretic (8)
Primarily aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, stimulant; antispasmodic (14)
…digestive tonic, prevents vomiting, relaxes peripheral blood vessels, promotes sweating but also cooling internally, promotes bile flow (15)
Stimulant, stomachic, carminative. (57)
Proven antibacterial, antiviral and antispasmodic. (61)
Conditions & Uses: Used for convulsive complaints of the gastrointestinal tract as well as gall bladder and bile ducts; common cold, cough/bronchitis, fevers, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, cramps of the upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts, irritable colon, catarrhs of the respiratory tract. Used externally for myalgia and neuralgia. Folk uses include nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, respiratory infections, and dysmenorrhea. (2)
Peppermint is used for colds, fIu, fevers, gas and mild digestive disorders.
Spearmint (Mentha virides) has almost identical uses to this variety. Spearmint is classified as warm by the Chinese, but these mild mints are effectively neutral and would better fit into this category than the previous one. (6)
(Peppermint is) a well known herb that will inhibit mucous secretion temporarily because of its menthol component. It can be used widely wherever there is excess mucous being secreted, helping also with its antispasmodic and carminative actions. Peppermint is one of the best carminative agents available. It has a relaxing effect on the visceral muscles, anti-flatulent properties and stimulates bile and digestive juice secretion, all of which help to explain its value in relieving intestinal colic, flatulent dyspepsia and other associated conditions. The volatile oil acts as a mild anaesthetic to the stomach wall, which allays feelings of nausea and the desire to vomit. It helps to relieve the vomiting of pregnancy and travel sickness. Peppermint plays a role in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The treatment of fevers and especially colds and influenza benefits from its use. As an inhalent it can be used as a temporary treatment of nasal catarrh. Where migraine headaches are associated with the digestion, this herb may be used. As a nervine it acts as a tonic, easing anxiety, tension, hysteria, etc. In painful periods it relieves the pain and eases associated tension. Externally it may be used to relieve itching and inflammations. (9)
Internal uses — bronchitis, nervous disorders: infusion*. Chills, colic: oil, infusion, fluid extract. Cholera: oil*, infusion*, fluid extract*. Colds, morning sickness: infusion. Colitis, diverticulitis, heartburn: infusion*, powder*. Coughs: infusion, syrup, oil. Fevers: infusion, oil. Dizziness: infusion, oil, fluid extract. Gas: infusion, fluid extract, oil. Insomnia: infusion, fluid extract, oil. Measles: oil, infusion. Menstrual cramps, spasms: fluid extract, infusion, oil. Migraines, nausea: oil, fluid extract, infusion.
External uses — local anesthetic to local pains, inflamed joints: oil, liniment. Skin itch: oil (2 drops added to 2 quarts water and rubbed over affected area). Toothache: oil.
*Usually used in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem.
Peppermint is one of the oldest household remedies. It is excellent for chills, colic, fevers, dizziness, gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dysentery and hysteria. Peppermint enemas are excellent for colon problems. Peppermint is good for spasms and convulsions in infants. When extremely cold and pale, use a strong peppermint tea. It may be used also for griping pains in the intestines. Do not boil the leaves as they contain extremely volatile medicinal properties. Peppermint oil (5-10 drops poured into 2 quarts of hot water) breathed in through the mouth and nostrils will open up the sinuses. To do this, boil the water, add the oil, turn stove off, cover the head with a heavy blanket or towel and lean over the pot. Try to keep the steam from leaking out from under the blanket or towel. This is also good for facial steam baths. (14)
(The aerial parts of M. piperita) relax the muscles of the digestive tract and stimulate bile flow, so are useful for indigestion, flatulence, colic, and similar conditions. They reduce nausea and can be helpful for travel sickness; they also promote sweating in fevers and influenza….good for nausea and nervous stomachs. (15)
Used for allaying nausea, flatulence, vomiting, and as an infants’ cordial. (57)
Traditionally a stimulant that restores function of the stomach, promotes digestion, stops vomiting, cures hiccups, flatulent colic, hysterical depression. Research has concentrated on the essential oil. Effective against irritable bowel syndrome, but only in coated capsules that carry the oil to the colon without being digested in the stomach. Inhalation of the oil is thought to clear congestion and improve breathing. (61)
For nasal catarrh, colds and influenza it may be used with boneset, elder flowers, and yarrow. (9)
For indigestion and acidity–use as a simple or add American cranesbill to help reduce acid secretions, or marshmallow root, meadowsweet, and licorice to soothe inflammation.
For travel sickness: prevents vomiting, antispasmodic. Give drop doses of tincture while traveling. Older children can be given peppermint candy. (15)
Generally combined with other medicines with its stomachic effects are required. (57)
Precautions: Contraindications include occlusion of bile ducts, gall bladder inflammation, and severe liver damage. Gall stone carriers could experience colic due to the cholagogic effect. No known hazards with designated dosages. Preparations containing the oil should not be applied to the faces of infants or small children, particularly not in the nasal area: causes glottal spasm or bronchila spasm or asthma-lilke attacks or even possible respiratory failure. Minimum lethal dose of menthol is estimated to be 2 g. (2)
Avoid prolonged use of the essential oil as an inhalant.
Mint can irritate the mucous membranes and should not be given to children for more than a week without a break. Do not give any form of mint directly to young babies. Peppermint can reduce milk flow; take internally with caution if breastfeeding (15)
Coated oil capsules may open in the stomach, causing heartburn and relaxation of throat muscle. Should not be used by anyone diagnosed with achlorhydria (absence of hydrochloric acid in the gut). Oil should not be applied directly to the mucous membranes, nor used by anyone with gallbladder or bile duct obstruction or inflammation. (61)
Applications: Infusion: steep 5-15 min.; 6 oz., 3 x daily. Tincture: 30-60 drops, 3 x daily. Fluid extract: 1/2-2 tsp, 3 x daily. Powder: up to 10 #0 capsules (up to 60 grains), 3 x daily. (14)
For indigestion and acidity–add 15g dried herb to 500 ml water for an infusion; take up to 2.5 ml tincture per dose.
For travel sickness–give drop doses of tincture while traveling.
older children can be given peppermint candy.
Aerial parts M. piperita/M. arvensis
Infusion: Take for nausea, travel sickness, indigestion, falatulence, colic, feverish conditions, and migraines.
Tincture: Use for the same conditions as the infusion.
Compress: Soak a pad in the infusion to cool inflamed joints or for rheumatism or neuralgia.
Inhalation: Put a few fresh leaves in boiling water, and inhale to ease nasal congestion.
Essential Oil: M. piperita
Essential Oil: Peppermint oil contains large amounts of menthol. In fairly high doses, it is analgesic and calming. It is also cooling, so it is good for skin complaints, fevers, or headaches and migraines linked to overheating. Antibacterial, it can help combat infections. Used as an inhalant, it clears nasal congestion. Wash: Use 2–3 drops of oil in 10 ml water for skin irritations, itching, burns, inflammations, scabies and ringworm, or to repel mosquitos. Inhalation: 2–3 drops of oil in a saucer of water left in the room at night will reduce nasal congestion. Massage Oil: Dilute 5–10 drops peppermint oil in 25 ml almond or sunflower oil for headaches, fever, or menstrual pain, or to relieve milk congestion when breastfeeding. (15)
Dosage: Average daily internal dose is 6-12 drops of the essential oil. (2)
standard infusion or 1/2–6 gms. (6)
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto a heaped teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This may be drunk as often as desired.
Tincture: take 1–2 ml of the tincture 3x daily (9)
The infusion of an ounce to a pint of boiling water is taken in half-cup doses. Powder dose 30-60 grains. (57)
6-12 drops in water 3 x daily. For congestion, put a few drops in a basin of hot water and inhale the vapor with your eyes closed. 1-2 oil capsules 3 x daily between meals. Steep 2-4 tsp dried, cut leaf in 1-3 cups hot water for 15 min. and take throughout the day as needed. Tincture 10-20 drops in water after meals. (61)
General Notes: There are thought to be at least thirty species of mint. Until the 17th century, all mints were used in much the same way, with little attempt to differentiate between varieties. Today, peppermint (M. piperita) is preferred medicinally in the West; the Chinese use field mint (M. arvensis), known as bo he. Garden mint is usually spearmint (M. spicata). Not as strong as peppermint, this can be used in similar ways, and is good for children. (15) “If any man can name…all the properties of mint, he must know how many fish swim in the Indian Ocean.” Wilafried of Strabo, 12th century. (15)
Menthol is separated from the oil by freezing. The dementholized oil is then sold as a cheap grade of oil used for flavoring. (57)
A hybrid between spearmint (M. spicata) and watermint (M. aquatica). (61)
(2) PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 971-72
(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pg. 156
(8) The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 222
(9) The Herbal Handbook by David Hoffman, pgs. 27-28
(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 158-59
(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 79, 127, 154-155, 176-177
(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 268
(61) 101 Medicinal Herbs by Steven Foster, pgs. 156-57