When you think of peppermint, you probably think of the hooked shaped, red and white striped canes that are given out and hung on Christmas trees. Peppermint may also evoke images of church on Sunday morning, and little flat, round, red and white striped trimmed discs passed around in the choir stand, to help soothe a sore throat and to clear nasal passages. Or you could have memories of church mothers digging in their purses and passing a soft, airy block of peppermint to you from the bottom of her purse, just to keep you quiet during the sermon.
Whatever image a good, old piece of peppermint brings to mind, we didn’t realize it at the time but peppermint was and is actually GOOD for us.
A hybrid of water mint and spearmint, peppermint grows across Europe and North America. Peppermint, or Mentha x Piperita, is easy to grow and grows quickly, usually taking over areas where it is planted. Peppermint contains several essential oils, such as menthol, menthone, and limonene that provide properties that are antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory.
Potential Benefits of Peppermint
Peppermint has quite a few properties, many you are familiar with like freshening your breath. This is why toothpastes, mouthwashes, and chewing gums are made with peppermint or peppermint flavor. In addition to that, peppermint clears nasal passages and repels bugs. A few of peppermint’s other benefits include:
- Relieve from digestive conditions. Conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), gas, indigestion, and bloating are said to diminish with drinking peppermint tea or taking a capsule.
- Mitigate headaches and muscle aches. When mixed with a carrier oil, such as grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or olive oil, the anti-inflammatory properties of peppermint, when massaged into the affected areas, is said to soothe headaches, muscle aches, and itching.
- May improve reactions to seasonal allergies. Peppermint’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in the rosmarinic acid found in the peppermint plant, help to reduce runny and itchy noses and sneezing that is associated with seasonal allergies.
Where to find peppermint
If you are interested in growing peppermint, any garden section will have peppermint and a variety of other mints. The plant is hardy and will grow easily and quickly. Peppermint oils and teas are available at your local natural food store, co-op or online. The tea, especially, can be found in the tea section of your local grocery store.
For most of us, peppermint has been in and around our lives for all of our lives, it is refreshing to know that not only can the candy canes beautify a Christmas tree, but that they can do our bodies good as well.