Growing and Using Peppermint For MedicineAug 20, 2019
OK! That concludes this blog post!
Just kidding! Two of my favorite flavors are chocolate and mint but today we are going to just chat about Peppermint.
Not only is it tasty with chocolate, but it also shines when it comes to digestive health, cooking, headaches and muscle cramps.
Before we start:
This herbal information is just that, information. This blog post and I do not intend to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or illness. This is for informational, education and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a physician before using herbs medicinally.
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Many of us are familiar with peppermint, it must be one of the most widely used herbs. It's also a very prolific herb, which in my book makes it extra great. Not only is peppermint pretty easy to grow, and there is an abundance of it, it also packs an abundance of excellent healthful properties.
There are several species in the mint family, peppermint just being one of them. They all have very similar properties when it comes to using them medicinally.
Some other types of mint include:
- Forest Mint
- Horse Mint
- Garden Mint
- American Wild Mint
- Chocolate Mint
- Pineapple Mint
- Apple Mint
I absolutely love peppermint. I think I might have said that already but I never go any where without at least a bottle of peppermint essential oil or some peppermint tea. It seems there is always a great use for it and its simple to slip a prepared bag of loose peppermint tea in my purse.
Peppermint's Medicinal Properties
Peppermint (Mentha piperita), the most common mint, is a cross between spearmint and water mint. The flowers are white/pink/purple and lip shaped. Mint is a native to England. Peppermint is pungent, aromatic, cooling, warming and drying. It also packs some nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium.
Not just nutrients, but also some excellent medicinal properties! The list is a long one!!!
- carminative (relives flatulence)
- pain killing
- stimulating nervine (works to on the nervous system)
- stimulating diaphoretic
- assists with upset stomach
- calms hiccups
- breath freshener
- assists colds & flu
- aides fevers
- helps sinus congestion
- calms nausea
- calms spasms
- internally sooths itching
- ulcerative colitis
- diabetic neuropahty
- soothes sunburns
- calms poison oak/ivy
- aides toothaches
- promotes alertness
- calms skin inflammation
See! Isn't that a fabulously long list of great things?! Now I can see you are on the peppermint band wagon with me. Arn't ya?
But how do we use it here on the farm? After all, I did say I carried it where ever I went.
We use peppermint essential oil diluted in baths quite often. It helps to calm sore muscles and backs after working in the garden or after a long hike in the woods. We also use it for nausea when ever anyone has a troubled tummy. A simple sniff will sometimes help.
This is also why I keep pure cane sugar organic candy canes year around.
"Mom my tummy hurts!"
"Have a candy cane!"
Because they are going to say no, right? The peppermint extract in the candy helps to calm their tummy and it calms their nerves too.. both medicinally and mentally.
When someone in our house can't even lick a candy cane because they are so nauseated, usually a peppermint bath helps kick that problem. Just make sure to go light on how much you use and dilute it well... that stuff can burn!
Don't have the essential oil? Make a strong tea with peppermint... several tea bags, if tea bags are your thing, or 3-4 tablespoons of loose peppermint tea. Steep in about 2 cups of water and add that to your bath and you will get similar effects.
Speaking of diluting oil and safety, peppermint does have a few precautions that come with it. While its generally safe for all, some may have heartburn. Excessive use causes a decline in breast milk. And again, dilute essential oil in carrier oil for safe use.
Not only can peppermint be used as a tea and an essential oil, but it can be made into an infused oil or a tincture like our lemon balm tincture here.
We also feature peppermint in our Peppermint Patty Salve (that chocolate and mint again) which is like a solid hand lotion. It could easily be added to a salve for sore muscles and joints or made into a poultice.
In the summer one of our favorite ways to cool down is using peppermint in a very common tea blend. Moroccan mint tea! Its super yummy and simple to make. I'm even going to share our "secret recipe" here (in the shop we call it Mo Rock'n Mint, should you not want to make your own ::wink wink:: )
Moroccan Mint Loose Leaf Tea Blend
3 parts gunpowder green tea
3 parts spearmint
- Blend all in one bowl mixing well so as to evenly distribute ingredients.
- Store in air tight container until use.
- Add 1 teaspoon per 8 oz cup of boiling water.
- Steep 3-4 minutes then remove so as to not make the green tea taste bitter.
Add 1 part cocoa nibs for a special chocolatey kick!
How to Grow Peppermint
Peppermint is a perennial which means that it comes back every year without having to replant it. Some people may see that as a horrible thing, if they have it where they don't want it growing.
And it really could be a problem because peppermint is grown best from the roots which spread under the ground quite rapidly. It is possible to grow peppermint and other mints from seed. We have been quite successful with growing lemon balm from seed.
Peppermint is best grown in containers or areas where it is safe for this plant to spread. It grows in most soils, in any condition (thank goodness because we have so much clay here on the farm!). Peppermint prefers the sun over shade, but shade will help stunt its growth and slow down and keep it from spreading as quickly. Which is why I planted it on the shady side of the house where nothing else would grow. Its staying a nice manageable little patch.
When planting, place the plants two feet apart in the spring and/or fall. It will grow approximately 12-35 inches tall. Right before the plant flowers, harvest the stems at 1 inch above the ground or pick the leaves one at a time as needed.
When preparing leaves for dehydration it’s also important to harvest the leaves earlier in the day but after the morning dew has dried. Mints like peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm ect. Should be harvested before they bloom in the late spring or summer depending on your growing season. Strip the leaves from the stem for drying. If you want, gently rinse these under cool water. They are a little tougher than flowers and usually there is more exposed space for bug or bird residue. Dehydrate at 95-125 degrees until crispy dry. Time will vary depending on dehydrating method and environment.
Now... where did I put those peppermint patty's at? They are totally medicine, wouldn't you agree? (I get this kind with only 3 ingredients: chocolate, honey and peppermint)
Ah hem ...
To learn more about different herbs, blending tea and how to grow them, we have two new fantastic ebooks to get you started! Growing Herbal Teas and D.I.Y. Medicinal Teas. It's a great way to start your home apothecary.
What I really want to know though, (other than were I put that candy) do you already use a kind of mint in your home? If so what do you use it for?
If you don't yet ... which thing do you think you would use it for once you had it on hand?
Leave a comment below and let me know!
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