|Mentha x piperita Labiatae/Lamiaceae
PEPPERMINT (hybrid of Mentha aquatica and Mentha spicata?)
Part used Aerial parts and essential oil
Location Native to Britain and Europe, cultivated in Central and Southern Europe and America.
Harvesting Time Just before flowers open, must be dried carefully to conserve aromatic element. True peppermint must be raised from cuttings, as it is a hybrid. It was originally grown in Mitcham in Surrey. Although it is no longer grown there, the ‘Mitcham’ clone is now being grown in England again, for oil distillation. The essential oil is distilled from the dried leaves which may be stored for up to three years before processing. The best quality oil is produced from the fresh flowering tops and is produced mainly in France, England, U.S.A., Russia, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Morocco and China. The whole oil is more effective than the extracted menthol.
Taste Pungent and cooling. Used as a culinary herb widely - lamb and mint sauce, tabbouleh and many other middle Eastern dishes. In cooking it is better to use one of the milder mints such as spearmint or apple mint.
Cautions – Herb not suitable for children under 5, oil not suitable for under 12 or 5; different authors give different ages. Other mints are safe .Oil -some individuals react to menthol with dermatitis, flushing and headache due to allergy. Only use by inhalation in pregnancy, do not use for children under 12 or 5 years. Use the oil at low concentrations for external use (1% or less), do not use with homeopathy.
Constituents of herb: Flavonoids (luteolin and menthoside); Phenolic acids; Triterpenes; volatile oil 0.5-1.5%) Monoterpenes- pinenes, limonene, menthene, phellandrene, sabinene, myrcene, ocimene, para-cymene, terpinolenes, terpinenes; Sesquiterpenes – beta-caryophyllene, farnesene, muuolene, germacrene, cadinene, bourbonene; Monterpenols – menthol, piperitol, piperitenol, terpineol, linalool, terpineol–4; Sesquiterpenols – viridiflorol, cadinol, octanol; Ketones – menthone, piperitone, pulegone; Oxides – 1,8-cineole; Esters – methyl acetate; Menthafuran (may cause photosensitisation)
Actions: Spasmolytic; Carminative; Diaphoretic; Febrifuge; Cholagogue; Anti-emetic; May have a mild hormonal action; Hepatic (liver remedy); Hypertensive (only essential oil, not whole herb); Stimulant nervine; Cordial; Cephalic (improves circulation to head and ability to think); Decongestant and expectorant; Antiviral; Vasoconstrictor; Anti-inflammatory; Anti-lactogenic (reduces milk production)
Topically – antiseptic, antipruritic (reduces itching), analgesic, antifungal, insect repellent
Traditional and current uses: Intestinal colic in people over 5 (not suitable for those under this age); Griping spastic colon; Diarrhoea – helps by soothing bowel lining and should be combined with astringent herbs such as raspberry leaf, lady’s mantle, meadowsweet, cinnamon or if none other available black tea may be used; Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy; Nervous nausea, gastritis, enteritis, indigestion; Travel sickness; Wind and indigestion, especially after rich food or too much food – hence the popularity of after dinner mints; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Common cold, flus and fevers; as an infusion, and yarrow, but works well alone too – it is an antiviral and also helps to reduce fever by promoting sweating; Dysmenorrhoea or painful periods; Headaches and migraine, especially linked to digestive weakness; Rhinitis and sinusitis, helps to reduce mucus. Avoid overuse of the oil in inhalations for this condition. Reproductive stimulant, works on ovaries and can help regulate infrequent periods. To help low blood pressure; Promotes clear thinking; relieves apathy, nervous palpitations and vertigo; Reducing milk production during weaning; Hepatitis, cirrhosis and jaundice, but only under practitioner supervision.
Topically – use the infusion or diluted essential oil to relieve the pain of bruises, sciatica, shingles or neuralgia and also itching of eczema, herpes, and urticaria.
Repellent for gnats, mosquitoes, lice, scabies, rats and ants.
Spearmint tea seems to reduce the amount of androgens produced. This can reduce libido in men, and can reduce hirsutism in women with poly cystic ovaries or high levels of androgen production
For cooking I prefer apple mint or spearmint in general although peppermint leaves in a wild salad are tasty.
All three mints can be shredded and added to apple juice for a refreshing summer drink.
½ cup wholemeal couscous
1 cup boiling water
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion finely chopped
5-6 sprigs flat leaved parsley, finely chopped
5-6 sprigs mint, finely chopped
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Pour boilng water over couscous and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Stir in other ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Allow flavours to mingle for at least half an hour before eating.
500 g minced organic lamb, or chicken, or beef
1 onion , finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 teaspoon bouillon powder
1 dessertspoon powdered cumin seeds
1 dessertspoon powdered coriander seed
Large bunch of mint, finely chopped
Combine ingredients thoroughly. Form into balls and bake at 190 oC for about 30 minutes until thoroughly cooked
Mint, yogurt and cucumber dip/dressing
½ cucumber, grated and with excess juice drained off
Large bunch mint, finely chopped
300 ml live yogurt
1-2 cloves minced garlic (optional)
Black pepper to taste
Combine ingredients and use as a dip or as a dressing.