Beginning in the 18th century, Peppermint (Mentha x. piperta) became an important medicinal herb. It was used for colic, digestive problems, and headaches. Peppermint tea was the most common way of using this herb to heal. Peppermint can be used for many ailments including muscular spasms, colds, flu, menstrual cramps, toothache, bad breath, arthritis, asthma, and fever. Peppermint essential oil can also be used for mental fatigue, depression, nervous stress, and shock. Inhaling a drop of peppermint essential oil increases concentration and memory. It stimulates the brain to think clearly and dispels feelings of inferiority. Since peppermint essential oil is antiseptic, it helps control bacteria on the skin. Very useful for motion sickness, nausea and migraines, as well as being a natural insect repellent.

Mints have long been popular worldwide for their distinctive flavor, essential oil, and as a valuable garden decorative. Mints grow both cultivated and wild throughout the world, with over 600 named species. Mints vary in size from the very tiny, bright green Corsican Mint to the tall, fuzzy, gray-leafed Apple Mint. Mints are mentioned in the Bible as a form of tithe payment, were laid on floors of synagogue floors and later in Italian churches where it is referred to as Erba Santa Maria; used as a symbol of hospitality by the Romans and to flavor wines and sauces; used as a strewing herb in the Middle Ages to mask unpleasant odors; native to Eurasia and Africa.

Safety: Do not use undiluted –may cause irritation to sensitive skin.

Peppermint today is still a very important essential oil and can be used to enhance your well-being. Peppermint stimulates, refreshes, cools, restores and uplifts the mind and body. The fragrance is cool, clean, fresh and strong. Peppermint oil is extracted from the whole plant above ground just before flowering. The oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh or partly dried plant and the yield is 0.1-1.0%. Excellent for refreshing tired feet. Sniff from the bottle or one drop on handkerchief to revive during travel. A drop on the tongue is also a great breath freshener. Do not use Peppermint during the evening hours as it may cause sleep disturbance. A few non-therapeutic uses are: Add a few drops on a cleaning rag and you will leave a fresh scent wherever you clean. It works great as a room freshener and won't stain carpets.

In Greek mythology, the beautiful nymph Mintho (Mentha) was beloved by Pluto. This angered Pluto’s wife, Persephone, and so she trod Mintho ferociously into the ground. Pluto still in love with Mintho, softened the spell by transforming Mintho into the aromatic healing herb mint to smell sweeter the more she was tread upon, knowing that people would appreciate her for years to come. As a plant, Mintho lost the beauty of a nymph, but continues to attract by her freshness and lovely scent.

Did you know?

a. In 1912, the first LifeSaver flavor was Peppermint.

b. In 1927, in Vienna, Austria, a candy maker by the name of Eduard Haus, III, developed a candy to conceal adult smokers' bad breath. In fact, the target market for the candy, labeled as a compressed breath mint, consisted of adult smokers. The original flavor for the candy, which is still available today, was Peppermint. When marketers extracted the first, middle, and the last letters of the German word for Peppermint, Pfefferminz, they were left with PEZ, and the name stuck.

c. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that workers smelling Peppermint made 25% fewer errors than those breathing plain air.

d. Sniffing a little Peppermint may step up your fitness routine and help your body work a little harder. A recent survey conducted with athletes at a University in West Virginia, athletes ran faster and performed more exercises when they were exposed to the scent of Peppermint. So the next time you are exercising, try a little Peppermint.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Stype, Aromatherapist and Owner of Arlys Naturals, a trusted online source for essential oils, including many exotic and rare essential oils, professional natural skin care products and much more. Her research has shown a connection between healthy skin, well-being amd essential oils. Arlys Naturals, www.arlysnaturals.com, 877-502-7597. Sign up today for free online newsletter.