Mentha x piperita
Action: Aromatic, diaphoretic, stimulant, stomachic, carminative,
antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, local analgesic.
Systems Affected: Stomach, intestines, circulation, nerves.
Preparation and Dosage (thrice daily): Dried leaves, dose 1-5 grams
Botanically Peppermint is a hybrid between Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
and Wild Water Mint (M. aquatica). Two main varietal forms exist,
Black and White Peppermint. It is now one of the best known of all
herbs, but its existence was not definitely recorded until 1696,
when it was first observed in Hertfordshire, England.
The plant has well-known culinary uses and is cultivated
commercially for the volatile oil, from which menthol is extracted.
Peppermint oil and menthol are widely used in the manufacture of
cosmetics, cigarettes, toothpaste and confectionery, wherever a
penetrating mint odour or cool taste is required.
The stimulant, stomachic and carminative properties of Peppermint
can be used in treating dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, abdominal
cramps and diarrhoea. It allays nausea (although Spearmint is
generally preferred for this) and prevents griping caused by
Peppermint generates internal heat and induces perspiration.
Combined with Elder flowers it is an effective remedy for colds and
flu. It is also used for treating nervous headaches, restlessness
Peppermint oil is a vascular stimulant and has an anesthetic and
antiseptic action. Used locally, it has an anesthetic action in
rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia and nervous headache, and is a common
ingredient of commercially-prepared embrocations used for these
conditions. The oil is also used to relieve toothaches and as an
inhalant in cases of nasal catarrh and lung congestion.
Rats and mice dislike the odour of both Peppermint and Pennyroyal
(M. pulegium). The herbs were formerly strewn about barns, storage
sheds and pantries to keep them away. Rat catchers in England used
rags soaked in Peppermint oil to block up their holes when sending
ferrets or terriers in after them.
Cautionary Notes: Peppermint oil may cause allergic reactions in
some susceptible individuals.