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    Scientific Names

    • Mentha piperita L.
    • Labiatae
    • Mint family

    Common Names

    ivyBalm mint
    ivyBrandy mint
    ivyCurled mint
    ivyLamb mint
    ivyPhudina (Sanskrit name)
    ivyWu-pa-ho (Chinese name)
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    Parts Usually Used

    Leaves, oil, and flowering tops
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    A hybrid perennial plant; 1-3 feet tall; the erect, square, branching stem is tinged with reddish-purple (not green as in spearmint) and has opposite, dark green, ovate to lanceo-late, serrate leaves. Axillary and terminal spikes of small, purple (violet) flowers in loose, interrupted terminal spikes, arranged in whorls, appear from July to frost. The whole plant has the characteristic smell of menthol.

    Spearmint smells like chewing gum; peppermint smells like toothpaste.

    Other mints, used similarly to peppermint: spearmint (M. spicata), water mint (M. aquatica), and curled mint (M. crispa).
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    Where Found

    Mostly cultivated but also found wild in moist soil in the eastern United States and in Europe.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Diaphoretic, aromatic, carminative, chologogue (stimulates flow of bile), stomachic, calmative, mild alterative, stimulant, rubefacient, nervine, analgesic
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    Biochemical Information

    Menthol, menthone, fasmone, methyl acetate, volatile oils, tannic acid, terpenes, and vitamin C.
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    The Paiute and Shoshone Indians used a mint (Mentha penardi) known to them as peppermint (Indian name "Paquanah"). They made a tea from the leaves and stems after drying, to relieve gas pains. The Chinese use an herb (Mentha Arvensis) known to them as peppermint (Chinese name Po-ho or Fan-ho). The plant grows everywhere in China.

    Peppermint grows very prolifically and should be in every herb garden; one of the oldest and best tasting household remedies. Well known for relieving indigestion and colic.

    Peppermint is a general stimulant; a strong cup of peppermint tea will act more powerfully on the system than any liquor stimulant. It will quickly diffuse itself through the system and bring back to the body its natural warmth and glow without the usual tendency to relapse. It is good in cases of sudden fainting and/or dizziness with extreme coldness and pale countenance. Often it is useful for griping pains caused by eating unripe fruit or irritating foods.

    Peppermint tea strengthens the heart muscle and is delicious. Coffee hinders digestion and is a cause of constipation and poisons the body. Peppermint tea cleanses and strengthens the entire body. Drink peppermint tea instead of tea or coffee and see how much better you feel.

    Instead of using aspirin or some other harmful drug for headaches, take a strong cup of peppermint tea and lie down for a little while. The good effect will be very noticeable. Drink 2 or 3 cups if needed, so that enough gets into the system to help. It strengthens the nerves, instead of weakening them as aspirin and other drugs do.

    If the tea is not available, chew some of the leaves until you can swallow them easily. This will assist the body in doing the work more normally; and will start the food digesting process. Studies show that peppermint lessens the time food spends in the stomach by stimulating the gastric lining. It relaxes the stomach and promotes burping, has a calming effect on the body and can help soothe a nagging cough. Helps reduce the sick feeling typical of migraine headaches.

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    Oil of peppermint adds refreshing cool flavor to cordial compositions. A sprig of fresh herb adds character to juleps.

    Increases stomach acidity, irritates mucous membranes and the gastrointestinal tract. Use for chills, colic, fever, nausea, diarrhea, heart trouble, rheumatism, convulsions, spasms, dizziness, vomiting, travel sickness, dysentery, cholera, dysmenorrhea, palpitations of the heart, the grippe, hysteria, insomnia, neuralgia, and headaches. Used for colds, flu, sore throat, laryngitis, gas and mild digestive disorders.

    The leaves can be made into a salve or a bath additive for itching skin conditions.

    Extracts experimentally effective against herpes simplex, Newcastle disease, and other viruses. The oil stops spasms of smooth muscles. Externally, helps rheumatism, neuralgia, headaches, and migraines. Peppermint tea is a valuable old-time beverage which tends to relieve stomach gas, flatulence, and resultant distress. As a harmless, caffeine-free beverage it will not cause restlessness or keep you awake at night.

    A wholesome tisane for every member of the family. For young children, 1 or 2 tbsp. of the tea can be sweetened with honey.

    When queasiness, nausea, a feeling of fullness, or severe vomiting are presenting problems, a single cup of peppermint tea, drunk in sips and as warm as possible, will dispel these acute disturbances.

    Peppermint tea promotes bile flow, improves bile production in the liver, and also exercises a positive influence on pancreatic function. Avoid peppermint in all forms if internal ulcers are present.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Collect the leaves on a hot, sunny day, preferably just before flowering time.

    Infusion: steep 2 to 3 tsp. leaves in 1 cup water. Take 1 1/2 to 2 cups per day, but for no more than 8 to 12 days consecutively. After that time, wait at least a week before resuming, or heart problems may result.

    Peppermint tea: Use 1 oz. herb in 1 pint of boiling water and sweeten with some honey. Take in wineglassful doses.

    Oil: take 3 to 4 drops on a sugar cube with hot tea. For gas pains, take 1 or 2 drops in 1/2 glass of water.

    Extract: take 5 to 15 drops of the liquid extract in a cup of water.

    Tincture: take 10-50 drops, depending on age and the severity of the problem.
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    Nutrient Content

    Vitamin C
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    How Sold

    Sold as peppermint oil, extract, or tea Used commercially in many teas, medicines, salves, inhalants, etc.
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    May interfere with iron absorption.

    Oil is toxic if taken internally in large doses; causes dermatitis. Menthol, the major chemical component of peppermint oil, may cause allergic reactions. Avoid prolonged use of the essential oil as an inhalant.

    Mint should not be given to children for more than a week at a time without a break. Do not give any form of mint directly to young babies.

    Peppermint can reduce milk flow; take internally with caution if breast feeding.

    Check with your pediatrician before giving peppermint to a child.
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    Resource Links Peppermint and Heartburn

    University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint

    U.S. National Library of Medicine: Peppermint

    Medicinal Herb Info: Peppermint

    National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine: Peppermint Oil

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    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

    Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

    Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

    Buy It! Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

    Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

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