An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.

 

Peppermint - Mentha piperita (Mentha x piperita) (Mentha nigricans) - family: Labiatae (Lamiaceae) (Mint Family).

Peppermint is an aromatic rhizome-based perennial plant that may grow as high as three feet. It has wrinkled toothed oval-shaped dark green leaves. Each spring and summer it has terminal spikes of small purple flowers. The flowers are followed by small seeds (nutlets). Peppermint is probably a hybrid cross of Watermint, Mentha aquatica, and Spearmint, Mentha spicata. Peppermint oil, which is extracted from the leaves and flowering tops, is widely used as a flavoring in foods, especially in candies. For the small concentrations used in foods, Peppermint oil has been classed by the FDA as Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS). Its leaves have been traditionally used as a base for herbal tea. Essential oil is used in aromatherapy as a remedy for nausea. Traditional European folk use of leaves as remedy for bad breath, colds, diarrhea, flu, indigestion, intestinal gas, gall bladder problems and morning sickness. Modern American folk use of leaves as a remedy for Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, fever, inflammatory bowel disease and motion sickness. Traditional European topical folk remedy for eczema. The leaves have been approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for gall bladder problems, indigestion and liver problems. The essential oil has been approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for colds, bronchitis, coughs, gall bladder problems, immune system support, liver problems and sore throats. Peppermint oil is also used as a topical remedy for back pain, migraine headaches and nerve pain. Under the name Gamathi Phudina, Peppermint was used as one of the Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Note: essential oil may be toxic if taken internally. Note: excessive use of essential oil may irritate mucous membranes. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1990. Peppermint is probably a hybrid cross of Watermint, Mentha aquatica, and Spearmint, Mentha spicata. Peppermint is considered by some authorities to be a hybrid between Field Mint (Mentha arvensis) and Watermint (Mentha aquatica). Of uncertain origin, probably originally hybridized in Europe. Naturalized in North America. Naturalized in California. Cultivated as an herb and as ornamental in North America.

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Web page last updated on 22 May 2003.