Peppermint - Featured Herb


Peppermint is a natural hybrid of Watermint (Mentha aquatica L.) and Spearmint (M. spicata L.). It is an easy growing perennial herb, growing up to 1 meter high, with underground runners and a distinctive menthol fragrance. The plant has tough, dark stems and serrated green leaves.

The leaves are used for consumption and healing, as well as the essential oil.

The peppermint herb is loaded with nutrients and provides numerous health benefits. Peppermint is readily available in grocery stores or as a dried herb. You can buy its fresh leaves and mix them into salads or soups. Drinking peppermint tea is an easy way to incorporate this nutritious herb into your daily diet.

Health benefits of peppermint

Mint contains numerous plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.

The mint herb contains no cholesterol; however, it is rich in essential oils, vitamins and dietary fiber, which helps to control blood cholesterol and blood pressure inside the human body.

Research studies have also been suggested that the compounds in the peppermint relax intestinal wall and sphincter smooth muscles through blocking the calcium channel at cell receptor levels. This property of mint has been applied as an anti-spasmodic agent in the treatment of "irritable bowel syndrome" (IBS) and other colic pain disorders.

Peppermint-herb is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium. 100 g fresh herb provides 569 mg of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper works as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide-dismutase.

Further, it is rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin-C and vitamin E. The leaves of mint also contain many important B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6); and the herb is an excellent source of vitamin-K.

Therapeutic uses

Peppermint has relaxing properties and acts to promote the production of bile and disinfects against pathogens. It is therefore used to treat diseases of the stomach and the intestines and even to soothe the stomach against frequent vomiting. It can be used to treat disorders of the gallbladder, diarrhea, stomach and intestinal colic. It can be used to treat morning sickness, nausea, flatulence, gastritis and enteritis. It is furthermore used for indigestion, cramping, stomach ulcers, spastic colon, and irritable bowel syndrome.

When used as a gargle, peppermint can be used to relieve toothache and inflammation in the mouth and throat.

It works with a powerful healing action against symptoms caused from colds.

At the same time, peppermint alleviates and prevents migraines, neuralgic pain and spasmodic nervous disorders. Peppermint relieves hysteria and other nervous symptoms of stress and depression and is also used for its stimulant properties. It can have a powerful stimulant effect on the body and also positively influence the mind and emotions.

Here are just a few of the ways that peppermint is beneficial to your health:

  1. Aids Digestion Peppermint has been found to ease symptoms associated with indigestion in many cases. This herb has a calming effect on the stomach muscles. It also creates better bile flow, which is critical for fat digestion. When you eat peppermint or drink it in tea form, food moves more quickly through your stomach. Peppermint has also been found to relieve the painful gas that is often associated with digestive issues.
  2. Relief for Irritable Bowel Syndrome If you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may find relief from taking enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules. The coating on these capsules prevents the heartburn and indigestion that may result from peppermint oil being released in the stomach. Numerous studies show that these capsules relieve symptoms associated with IBS such as gas, diarrhea, bloating and pain. Peppermint relaxes the smooth muscles around the intestines, decreasing the chances of muscle spasms and indigestion.
  3. Cold and Flu Remedy Peppermint is commonly used in cold and flu remedies. Studies have shown that it kills bacteria and viruses. It also has a calming and numbing effect. It dulls the pain of an aching body. The menthol in peppermint effectively thins mucus and breaks up phlegm. It provides relief from coughs and congestion. You will find menthol as a common ingredient in decongestants. It is also a common ingredient in rubs used on the chest to relieve chest aches experienced during colds and the flu.
  4. Protection against Cancer The link between peppermint and anti-cancer effects is still under research. A phytonutrient in peppermint has shown to stop cancerous tumors from growing in animals. These are tumors in the pancreas and liver, which are generally more difficult to cure. Protection against cancer using peppermint in animals has also been observed in the lungs, colon and skin.
Given its powerful ability to soothe and heal, think about incorporating peppermint herb into your diet and look for it as an ingredient in medicinal remedies. You can find it as a tea or in fresh leaves at the grocery store or in dried form. Buy peppermint oil or use the coated capsules to relieve digestive issues, as directed. Use it as a chest rub or to heal your skin. When you have a cold or the flu, think of peppermint as a remedy for uncomfortable symptoms.

Peppermint Tea

For a tea, add one cupful of boiling water to 1 to 2 tsp of peppermint, allow to brew for five minutes and then strain off. Drink two to three times daily.

Sources

  1. The Great Encyclopaedia of Healing Stones, Fragrances and Herbs, published by Methusalem, 2008.
  2. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/peppermint.html
  3. http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-health-benefits-of-the-peppermint-herb.html#b
  4. http://www.ageless.co.za/herb-peppermint.htm