Peppermint has, compared to other types of mint, a higher menthol content and is one of the most widely used medicinal plants. With anesthetic, antiseptic, purifying and carminative properties, it is also widely used in cosmetics. Let’s find out better.
Properties of peppermint
Peppermint has the following therapeutic properties:
- Anesthetic action: on the mucous membranes and on the skin it causes an initial vasoconstriction followed subsequently by a vasodilation, in this way there is a local anesthetic action. This can also occur at the gastric level, inducing an antiemetic action.
- Analgesic action: the mint extract is an important remedy against tension -type headaches and migraines, with a significant reduction in pain. Applied on the forehead and temples, a menthol solution relieves all migraine symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and intolerance to light and noise.
- Antiseptic action: mint has strong antiseptic, antiparasitic and germicidal properties thanks to its polyphenol content.
- Antilitic action: some studies have highlighted a possible ability in the dissolution of stones in the gallbladder.
- Decongestant and balsamic action: mint has a refreshing, decongestant and fluidifying action on the secretions of the respiratory system, therefore it is used to treat colds, fever and cough.
- Cosmetic action: in cosmetics, mint has a refreshing, tonic and purifying action.
- Carminative action: mint works by relaxing the esophageal sphincter, reducing the volume of intestinal gas.
- Aromatic action: mint is used in cooking and also for the production of beverages, liqueurs and confectionery products.
- Purifying action: very useful in cases of bad breath.
The main components of mint are:
- An essential oil rich in menthol and menton.
- Enzymes (oxidase and peroxidase).
- C vitamin.
- Phenolic acid and caffainic acid.
How to use
Fresh or dried leaves and essential oil are used for mint. Mint has the following uses: in the form of titrated dry extracts, essential oil, powder, fluid extract and mother tincture.
- Mint herbal tea: helps digestion and makes the breath fresh. Boil 1 liter of water and pour it over a handful of fresh leaves (or 2 teaspoons of dried mint). Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then filter. Drink lukewarm and sugar-free herbal tea. Mint herbal tea, due to its menthol content, is recommended for its digestive and toning properties. It can help to relax the muscles of the intestine and to promote the secretion of bile and the processes of digestion of food through the digestive system. Taking mint tea helps fight nausea, even during pregnancy or while traveling. Both the hot infusion and the not recommended in the evening, as it could disturb sleep, leading to insomnia. Peppermint tea, drunk in small sips, , for example flu accompanied by fever. Up to 500 milliliters of mint tea can be consumed per day.
- Toning massage: use 3-5 drops of mint essential oil diluted in 30 cc of sweet almond or sesame seed oil. The use of mint essential oil is recommended to carry out fumigations in case of colds. Just pour a few drops into a liter of boiling water and breathe in the vapors that are released. Mint essential oil should not be applied to children’s skin, but can be used in very diluted form in the preparation of cosmetics or massage oils intended for adults. Mint essential oil is used for the preparation of herbal remedies useful for fighting rheumatism. Finally, it can be
- In case of insect bites: rub the affected area with 1 drop of essential oil.
- To keep insects away: lightly crush some mint leaves and pass them on the skin.
- A mint mouthwash, to freshen the breath and with an antiseptic action for the oral cavity, can be prepared by leaving a teaspoon of dried mint leaves to infuse for ten minutes in 200 milliliters of boiling water. The infusion thus obtained must be filtered and left to cool before being used as a mouthwash.
- In cooking, mint is used to flavor sauces, vinegar, syrups. It can be used both fresh and dried as an aromatic herb to be used to flavor dishes. It is excellent as a dressing for salads, vegetables, legumes and cereals. It is used to flavor meat dishes or desserts such as the famous English mint sauce. Dried mint leaves can be used together with lemon juice or zest to create an aromatic summer drink, simply by making an herbal tea that will then be left to cool. Rubbing fresh mint leaves on your fingers can help eliminate bad smells possibly left on the fingers by garlic or onion. Finally, mint supplies raw material especially for the liqueur industry as the extracts obtained from the leaves have an eupeptic activity, that is, they favor digestion and, as such, enter the composition of many bitters.
Contraindications of Peppermint
Mint should be used with caution by people suffering from gastritis and ulcers. It can produce side effects such as: mucosal irritation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and increased gastroesophageal reflux.
As a precaution, the use of Mint is not recommended in pregnancy, lactation and in case of gastritis, glaucoma, thyroid dysfunction and hypersensitivity to one or more components of the drug. High-dose menthol can be neurotoxic and is therefore not recommended in case of favism.
Despite the essential oil of Mint is very irritating, both for the skin and for the mucous membranes, it represents a valid therapeutic complement for people with peptic ulcer.
Description of the plant
Mint (Mentha piperita) is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Labiate family. The parts used are the leaves and the flowering tops. It is an erect plant, with flowers arranged in whorls; the stem is hairy and the ovate leaves are very aromatic.
The flower corollas are pink in color. It is a garden plant that blooms in summer and reproduces by suckers. For their herbal use, the flowers and mint leaves are harvested between July and August and left to dry in the open air.
Habitat of peppermint
Mint is native to Europe and is widespread throughout the world. It grows well in areas with a temperate climate, while it is absent in those with a tropical climate.
Peppermint is a perennial and hardy aromatic herb that grows and develops easily when grown in your garden or in pots, so you can always have its fresh and fragrant leaves at hand. It tolerates sandy soils and full sun exposure, which must be counterbalanced by frequent watering.
Peppermint was born in 1996, the year in which the English botanist John Ray, in the course of his work of classification of the various types of mint, discovered a specimen derived from a natural crossing of different wild varieties (Mentha rotundifolia and Mentha aquatica), which was clearly distinguished from the others by a far more intense perfume.
The cultivation of this plant, which the botanist called peppermint, quickly spread throughout Europe and then also in America and Japan, thanks to its extraordinary aroma. Also, when learning how to distil menthol in the last century, peppermint was found to contain a very high concentration of this substance.
The demand for menthol, which is widely used in the pharmaceutical, confectionery, liqueur industry (manufacturing of toothpastes, mouthwashes, candies, chewing gum) led to a further spread of the cultivation of this plant.