Guess which Herb is “Cool”?
Here are a few hints:
- The United States produces about 7 million pounds of this plant a year.
- Washington State, USA grows 16,000 acres annually.
- This herb was found in Egyptian pyramids and is mentioned in the Bible.
- This herb is safe to use for medicine and food, easy to grow and totally delicious!
- 90% of the oil harvested from this plant is used for oral care and confections (only 1 drop of this oil will flavor one tube of toothpaste).
Perhaps by now you have guessed that I am speaking of Peppermint – a very “cool” herb. This lush, rich green herb will take the heat out of a bee sting, cool a sunburn, reduce a fever, and simply help you feel cooler on a hot day. Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross of spearmint and watermint, and has been used medicinally for many centuries.
Why is Peppermint Such a Valuable, Hard-Working Herb?
Peppermint leaves contain many nutrients, including manganese, vitamin C, and copper. This herb’s strong but pleasant flavor mixes wonderfully with other herbs when making herbal tea. Because of the stimulating properties of peppermint, it acts as a catalyst when used with other herbs.
The Many Uses of Peppermint Essential Oil
I never leave home without a trusty bottle of peppermint essential oil. Over the years, I have used it and shared it with others many times.
Peppermint Essential oil can be used “neat,” that is, without diluting. A little goes a long way. You will want to avoid getting the oil into your eyes or on tender skin. (If this should happen, you can dilute it with oil, not water.)
- I use peppermint essential oil neat on my temples for a headache, on my neck for a neck ache or stiff neck, on my back for back pain and on swollen lymph nodes.
- For sinus pressures, I massage a couple of drops over the sinuses. (Be careful not to get it into the eyes!)
- I massage a couple of drops onto the bottom of the feet of myself and my children when we are sick. It helps to cool the body in the case of fever and it reduces nausea.
- When I have morning sickness, nausea, or the flu, I love ice cold water with a few drops of peppermint essential oil in it.
- When my children get an insect bite or sting that is hot and swollen, peppermint essential oil is cooling and soothing.
- Currently I am using peppermint when I brush my teeth. I dip my wet toothbrush into some baking soda and drop one drop of peppermint essential oil onto the brush. My mouth feels very clean after I brush.
- Peppermint essential oil can also be diluted into a carrier oil for many uses as well. Mix 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil into ¼ cup of coconut oil. This oil can be massaged into the chest or back for congestion. It can be used to cool and heal sunburn. Massage it into the abdomen for menstrual cramps.
- Peppermint tea can be taken hot or cold, depending on preference and need. Cold peppermint tea is delicious on a hot day. A mug of hot peppermint tea is helpful on a winter day when you are stuck in the house with a cold. Peppermint tea can also be used for congestion, nausea, indigestion and gas pains.
- Recently I found myself in my car with children who were coughing and I didn’t have any cough drops. . I did have some strong peppermint hard candies. That took care of the cough quite nicely.
- Some have found peppermint chewing gum to help with nausea or even with trigeminal neuralgia. (Look for a brand that does not contain aspartame.)
Herbalist Lalitha Thomas considers peppermint worthy enough to be one of ten herbs she includes in great detail in her book, “Ten Essential Herbs.” She explains some less common uses of the herb in her book. She says peppermint tea can be used as a hair rinse (to stimulate and refresh the scalp.) Indeed, peppermint is used at times in commercial hair products. I find it particularly refreshing to use mint shampoo or soap on hot days.
You Can Easily Grow Your Own Peppermint!
Peppermint is easy to grow and a plant will last and grow for years. In fact, it may take over, so be careful where you plant it. Seeds or a small plant can be bought at a garden center. You can plant it in the ground in a coffee can (or larger container) if you are concerned about it taking over. Once you get a plant established, you will be able to make fresh peppermint tea or dry the leaves for later use.
A friend of mine had a large patch of mint in her yard. When the yard was mowed (including the mint), she said it smelled like ice tea to her.
The Many Uses of Peppermint in the Home
- Sprigs of fresh peppermint (or the essential oil) can be used in closets to deter mice or on kitchen counters to deter ants.
- I have put drops of peppermint oil onto cotton balls and left them in closets to deter mice.
- You can put 1 teaspoon of peppermint oil and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and used it to clean your kitchen counters. It helps with ants and also leaves the countertops very clean and the kitchen smelling bright and fresh!
- If I am having trouble with ants, I might spray the corners of the countertops before bed and not wipe it off.
How to Make a Delicious, Refreshing Cup of Peppermint Tea
To make a good cup of peppermint tea, you can use peppermint tea bags or loose dry peppermint leaves. Put the tea bag or leaves (1-2 teaspoons) into a mug. Add one cup of water that has been brought to a boil. Cover to retain the essential oils. Steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bag or strain out leaves. Sweeten if desired. Enjoy!
To read some first-hand peppermint success stories from Earth Clinic readers, please click here: https://earthclinic.com/herbs/mint.html