Mentha x piperita
Peppermint is, obviously, a member of the Mint family, the Labiatae. It was originally a hybrid cross (hence the ‘x’ in the Latin name), but now is pretty established as its own species, producing true seed. It spreads like wildfire from roots and runners, however, and will take over unless contained! This is especially true in a moist situation. It does prefer a little compost, some richness in the soil, which gives it loads of deep-green glossy leaves which we harvest just before flowering, usually in July or early, early August.
Elemental associations: Fire
Phytochemistry: Essential oil, tannins, bitter
Actions: Carminative, anodyne, anti-spasmodic, diaphoretic, stimulant
Specific systems: Digestive, respiratory, nervous
This is an incredible herb with a variety of uses, and an excellent taste as well. It is a great addition to bitter herbal tea blends, rounding out the flavor and making them much more palatable. Given how well it grows, everyone should have some!
After meals, a little Peppermint instantly relieves the pressure and bloating of overindulgence. It also helps prevent and relieve gassiness. Try a warm tea of this herb instead of coffee.
Muscle cramps and pain from muscular tension can also benefit greatly from this herb, both internally and externally. As a compress, it can help with tension or with the spasmodic coughs that often accompany flus; couple this with its diaphoretic internal action, and you have another great remedy for wintertime respiratory infections.
When the mind is a bit sluggish, Peppermint can give us a boost. It is a safe, non-habit-forming stimulant which, when added to its additional benefits, makes it a great morning drink (especially on hot days when a little sweating can really cool you down).
Indications: Gas and pressure after meals, intestinal disturbances, tension headache, fevers
Preparation/Dosage: This is one herb I’ve found is always best to dry. It just seems to concentrate the essential oils. After a few days of drying, promptly store in an airtight container. The infusion, hot or cold, can be made with 2-3 TBS in a quart of water. Steep the hot infusion only for a few minutes, well-covered. The tincture of the dry leaves is made with 40% alcohol, 1:5 to 1:10. Take ½ teaspoon as needed