Saturday, April 27, 2013

Peppermnt: The Details

I just have to say, if you couldn't tell from my last post,
I love peppermint oil!

I use peppermint all the time, for just about everything.

Now to the details...

Latin Name: Mentha piperita
Family: Lamiaceae

When buying peppermint oil you want to be careful of your source. If it has not been carefully harvested weeds may have been gathered along with the peppermint and distilled into the oil.
Peppermint oil should be clear to pale yellow in color with a fresh, camphorous, and minty aroma.

Inhaling a good peppermint oil will give me a cool, open feeling in the throat that usually carries into the lungs as well.

France, England and the USA all produce wonderful peppermint oils. The bottle I currently have is of organic peppermint from India.

Peppermint is a popular and perennial garden herb. It grows to between two and three feet tall and likes to spread. The leaves are oval shaped, dark green with deep teeth along the sides. Peppermint flowers in the summer producing small lilac or pin flowers. If you look at a peppermint from the top the leaves look like a star.

The whole above ground part of the plant is used to produce the oil. It is harvested before flowering and is steam distilled.

The chemical components of peppermint oil are variations on a theme:

Menthol(monoterpene alcohol):Strong antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, immune system support
Menthone(ketone): Strong mucolytic, promote skin/tissue regeneration, wound healing agents, calming to the nervous system
Menthol Ester: Relaxing to the central nervous system, balancing, antispasmodic, nervous system tonic

In Greek myth there is a story of a nymph named Menthe. Pluto fell in love with her, and when his wife discovered the relationship she was so angry that she trampled Menthe into the ground. Out of love for Menthe, Pluto turned her into an herb that would be appreciated by all people.
According to Pliny this is where the name Mentha comes from.   

Besides being widely used as a flavoring agent, peppermint oil has many applications in aromatherapy.
It is used to treat headache, a variety of digestive disorders, fatigue and apathy. It has a wonderful affect on the respiratory system relieving coughs, sinus congestion and asthma. Peppermint oil is also wonderful for muscle pain and to increase circulation.
Because of its healing properties peppermint oil is fantastic as part of a muscle rub after strenuous exercise.

Peppermint is our first oil that comes with some caution:
It cam be irritating to the skin and cause burning so always dilute it in an oil, lotion or gel.
Do not apply near the face of small children because of a risk of spasm in the respiratory system.
Because it is a stimulating oil it chould not be use on children under thirty months, with some suggesting not under seven years of age.
Please do not use peppermint oil in your bath!
Not to be used during pregnancy.

That may seem like a lot of don'ts. But as you will see when we get to the recipes, there is a lot to be done with this magnificent oil.

Peppermint is another oil that is friends with lavender... at least in my practice.

 As with any oil, please use with care and ALWAYS dilute in a carrier of some sort.
 And please DO NOT use internally.

All Rights Reserved