Mentha x piperita – Peppermint – Flora of Northwest Europe

The Plant:

Researchers of USDA conducted a study, NRCS in 2011, showing that Mentha x piperita is a hybrid mint, a cross between water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Indigenous plant to Europe that is widespread in cultivation throughout the world. The plant is found wild occasionally with its parent species (Hoffmann et al, 1984; Maffei Sacco, 1987).

Mentha piperita is herbaceous rhizomatous, fast spreading perennial with smooth stems that grow up to 90 cm tall. The plant is hardy to zone 3 and not frost tender (USDA hardness zone 3-7). Flowering is from August to October. The flowers hermaphrodite, having both male and female organs. The flowers are pollinated by Insect. The leaves are elongated and oval with a mint green colour. The peppermint oil is extracted by water vapour distillation of the leaves. The chromosome number is: 2n = 66, 72, 84, 120 (Huxley 1992; Blamey & Grey-Wilson, 1989).

Peppermint Essential Oil:

Peppermint oil is derived from a peppermint plant that is a cross between spearmint and water mint. Some of the common uses of peppermint oil are; fragrance in soaps, perfume and aromatherapy, as flavouring in foods and beverages, taken topically or orally to treat health problems. Dietary supplements that contain peppermint oil are most likely safe for adults. Some side effects such as heartburn may be caused by peppermint oil. Due to the high menthol constituents in peppermint oil, rubbing around nose, chest and face on infants and children can induce apnea. Always consult a health care provider or doctor before using peppermint oil.

According to the German Commission E monographs, peppermint oil (as well as peppermint leaf) has been used internally as an antispasmodic (upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts) and to treat irritable bowel syndrome, catarrh of the respiratory tract, and inflammation of the oral mucosa. Externally, peppermint oil has been used for myalgia and neuralgia.

Benefits of Peppermint Oil:

  • Eliminates Nausea and Headache
  • cures indigestion and constipation
  • stress relief
  • benefits the respiratory system
  • repels spider, ants and mice
  • relieves tendonitis and joint pain
  • stops itching caused by bug bites, hives, poison ivy or poison oak
  • promotes healthy hair growth
  • reduces risk of herpes infection
  • stimulates mental activity

 

Precautions:

Dietary supplements that contain peppermint oil are most likely safe for adults. Some side effects such as heartburn may be caused by peppermint oil. Due to the high menthol constituents in peppermint oil, rubbing around nose, chest and face on infants and children can induce apnea. The extracted essential oil can also cause abortions if taken in large quantities. Always consult a health care provider or doctor before using peppermint oil.