(NaturalNews) Ever wonder why a lot of restaurants have those peppermint candies next to the register? It's because of peppermint's long history as a digestive aid dating all the way back to ancient Rome and Egypt. It has a beneficial action on the stomach, intestines, and liver.
The plant is easy to grow and crossbreeds with other mint plants easily, sometimes making it difficult to tell them apart. Peppermint is in fact a natural hybrid of green mint and water mint with sterile flowers. The strongest of the mint family, peppermint, or menthe piperita, has a strong, clean, fresh, minty aroma. Menthol, the most important active element in peppermint, is extracted and used in pharmaceutical products as well as commercial products such as toothpaste flavoring, and food flavoring. The menthol crystallizes in cold temperatures, making it easy to extract from the essential oil for use by the commercial food, beverage, and medicine industries. However, peppermint is more effective when used in its whole state, as an integral part of the essential oil.
Used by American Indians, the Chinese, and the Egyptians, peppermint is not only a digestive, it also helps the respiratory and circulatory systems. It is an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Essential mint oil is a cleanser, purifier, and detoxifier. It stimulates lymph system drainage, which helps reduce edema and supports detoxing efforts. It is thought to increase stomach acidity as well as directly affect the brain's satiety center, signaling a sensation of fullness after meals. For this reason, peppermint has become one of the oldest and most used herbs for soothing digestion issues and restoring digestive efficiency. Peppermint can be found in a tea, or you can add a drop or two of the essential oil to your water to refresh you and aid your digestion.
Peppermint is also useful for chills, colic, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, irritable bowels, rheumatism, flatulence, bad breath, stomach ulcers, catarrh, varicose veins, toothache, fatigue, skin irritations, and spasms. It is even useful for keeping mice, ants, and fleas away.
Beyond physical uses, peppermint has several emotional uses. It is good for easing nervous exhaustion and depression. It is cooling and refreshing, helping to improve memory and concentration. Place a couple of drops on a tissue or in an essence burner and inhale to clear your mind and get your thoughts flowing again. It will strengthen your mental sharpness and help you focus.
A few more ideas for use:
• For motion sickness, massage a few drops into the abdomen, inside of the wrists, and inhale • Raise low blood pressure with a massage using peppermint oil • Diffuse or inhale peppermint oil mid-morning to avoid snacking • Rub a few drops on the back of the neck and temples to relieve headaches • Place one to two drops on the tongue and another under the nose to improve concentration and focus • Correct cardiac arrhythmia using peppermint oil in the bath or a massage, as it is also a cardiotonic • Inhale if nauseous or after vomiting for the antispasmodic action will soothe the smooth muscles of the stomach and gut • Combat the chilly and depressed feelings of cold and flu by adding two drops of the warming and stimulating peppermint oil to bathwater • Sip water with a drop of peppermint oil, or use the tea, to help reduce fever and hot flashes. It works by inducing sweating naturally. There are peppermint waters on the market. • Steam with lavender to cleanse skin, and improve acne. • Mist or spray on door jambs to repel bugs and pests. • Inhale peppermint, or suck on a candy with real peppermint oil, before a test to increase performance/mental accuracy and memory • Put a couple drops of peppermint oil on a kerchief or tissue and inhale to soothe mucous membranes inflamed by infection or allergy. Alternately, add drops to hot water and breathe the steam.
Considerations for use
Peppermint is strong and can cause irritation in people with sensitive skin. It is not for use during pregnancy or for infants and small children. Dilute to use topically and internally, especially if sensitive or applying to areas around the face or genitals. Essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin in their concentrated, undiluted form. They are not for internal use, unless under the care of a qualified practitioner. Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Use peppermint during the day, but not every day. It may stimulate and energize you enough to interfere with sleep otherwise as its stimulating effects are cumulative.
Always store oils tightly closed in a cool, dark place as they are sensitive to heat and light. If they are in dark glass bottles, they should keep for a long time if stored properly. Do not use in conjunction with flower essences or homeopathy without guidance. Do not store near homeopathic remedies as it may antidote them. Several oils should be avoided during the first trimesters of pregnancy, including peppermint, and by those with conditions such as high blood pressure or epilepsy, again, unless under the care of a qualified aromatherapist. Sensitivity or even allergy to essential oils is possible, so trust your instincts - and your nose.
It is amazing how powerful use of essentials can be in balancing whole body health, in the hands of a qualified practitioner. Considered the "living energy" of nature, essential oils are inherently powerful while being minimally invasive. Peppermint is an affordable multi-remedy that is easily transportable. It is a great addition to a basic essential oil kit.