Peppermint’s origin is a mystery but has been around a long time. Dried leaves were even found in the Egyptian pyramids!
While it was highly valued by the ancient Romans and Greeks, it didn’t become popular in Western Europe until the 18th century.
It’s key actions including the ability to increase sweating, relieve muscle spasms, stimulation of the secretion of bile and as an antiseptic. As an oil it is strongly antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, cooling and also has anesthetic affect on the skin in spite of it being an irritant. The whole plant has an antispasmodic effect on the digestive system and in clinical trials during the 1990’s confirmed it’s value in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Peppermint is excellent for the digestive system, increasing the flow of digestive juices and bile and relaxes the muscles of the gut. it reduces cramps, gas and colic and helps in soothing an irritable bowel. In the process of soothing the lining and muscles of the colon, it helps diarrhea and relieves a spastic colon, which is often the cause of constipation.
Applied to the skin, peppermint reduces sensitivity and relieves pain. It also aids in the relief of headaches and migraines linked to digestive weakness. It’s like an instant ice pack on the temples and the back of the neck.
Diluted oil is used as an inhalant and chest rub for respiratory infections. The whole herb is important for digestive infections. Do not give peppermint to children under 5 and as an essential oil should not be taken internally except under professional supervision.
And of course everyone’s favorite use besides candy canes? Spiders hate peppermint!