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Herb Spotlight - Peppermint

Herb Spotlight - Peppermint

Welcome to the 5th edition of our Herb Spotlight Series. As one of the first plants to arrive, Peppermint is the harbinger of Spring in my garden. It is a versatile plant that offers a myriad of benefits. More than just a pretty sight, it’s also a natural pest control agent in the garden, a refreshing addition to culinary creations in the kitchen, and a potent remedy for stomach ailments in the medicine cabinet. 

What is Peppermint?

Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) is an aromatic perennial herb in the Lamiaceae family. Other members of the mint family include basil, bee balm, catnip, horehound, hyssop, lavender, lamb's ear, rosemary, sage, spearmint, oregano, thyme, and lemon balm. Peppermint is characterized by a square stem and oppositely placed, pointed, aromatic leaves. It is aggressive in the garden, spreading underground by creeping stolons. If not placed in pots, it can quickly take over any growing space. 

Harvesting and Storing Peppermint

When I find Peppermint growing in places it shouldn’t, I tend to pull out as much of the whole plant as possible. But to harvest Peppermint without damaging the plant, use a clean, sharp knife or scissors and cut the stem just above where two leaves meet. This practice encourages the plant to sprout new shoots, producing a better harvest. Plucking off the individual leaves can lead to plant damage and a smaller harvest.

To store Peppermint, you will first need to dry it. This can be done by hanging the whole plant or placing just the leaves flat on screens. Once thoroughly dried, you can store Peppermint in an airtight container for 9-12 months or until it begins to lose color. 

History and Folklore of Peppermint

Peppermint's usage is steeped in history, dating back to at least 1500 B.C. The Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder praised its appetite-inducing qualities in his text, Naturalis Historia, while the Greek philosopher Aristotle saw it as an aphrodisiac. These ancient references truly highlight the enduring appeal of peppermint.

The name Peppermint comes from Greek mythology. The story says that Persephone, Hades's wife, angry after an affair, cursed the nymph Menthe or Minthe and turned her into a lowly plant to be trodden upon. Unable to reverse the spell, Hades softened the curse by giving Menthe Peppermint's sweet scent to perfume the air.

Peppermint has a rich history of use in various cultures. In ancient Greece and Rome, it was served after meals to aid digestion and added to milk to prevent spoilage. In Victorian times, it was a common household cleaner when added to hot water for mopping floors. Even the Bible mentions peppermint, referring to it as a form of currency in the Gospel of Luke. 

Constituents, Actions and Energies

Constituents of Peppermint

Peppermint contains menthol, menthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran, and cineol. Peppermint oil also contains small amounts of limonene, pulegone, caryophyllene, and pinene.

Herbal Actions of Peppermint

Analgesic  (topical), antidepressant,  antiviral,   antispasmodic,  carminative,  diaphoretic (mild).

Herbal Energies of Peppermint

Pungent, cool, dry

Precautions, Contra-indications, and Interactions

There are no known contraindications for the Peppermint plant, though large quantities may cause heartburn in some people. 

Typical Usage of Peppermint

Peppermint is most commonly used to aid digestive health and reduce headache pain, particularly in the sinuses. It is a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea. Its calming and numbing properties make it an excellent herbal ally for headaches, skin irritations, nausea, diarrhea, and menstrual cramps. It also has a history of use in managing flatulence and anxiety associated with depression.

Minty Fresh

Peppermint is the perfect cooling herb for summer heat. Add Peppermint leaves to water in a spray bottle, and mist yourself to cool down when you feel overheated. You can also do the same in a glass for a refreshing drink. 

If you already use Peppermint, what is your favorite way to use it? As food, medicine, or both? I love it in our Vanilla Mint Lipbalm and, of course, a good mojito! Tell us your favorite uses in the comments below, and we would love to see your recipes as well! Until next time,

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Herb Spotlight - Peppermint


Content from is meant to be informational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Remember that just because something is “natural” does not always mean it is safe for every person. When it comes to herbal medicine, many plants should be avoided when pregnant or nursing, and some can cause extreme interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medicine. 

While we strive to be 100% accurate, utilizing information from scientific studies, trusted sources, and verified publications, we are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is solely up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed on this website and to ensure proper plant identification. 

The information provided by this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before using herbal preparations, always research, speak to a professional regarding any significant concerns, and never fail to seek medical advice when needed.

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