Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae
Other names: Black Peppermint, Brandy Mint, Lammint
Habitat: Britain. A natural hybrid, M. aquatica x M. spicata, found in moist soils in ditches, waste places etc.
In large quantities this plant, especially in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so should not be used by pregnant women. Over use can cause gastric irritation so limit the amount of peppermint tea to no more than 6 cups a day.
Black peppermint is a very important and commonly used medicinal herb, being employed by allopathic doctors as well as herbalists. It is also widely used as a domestic remedy. This cultivar is considered to be stronger acting than white peppermint (Mentha x piperita officinalis). A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders (especially flatulence) and various minor ailments. The herb is abortifacient, anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, refrigerant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator. An infusion is used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, digestive problems, spastic colon etc. Externally a lotion is applied to the skin to relieve pain and reduce sensitivity. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic and strongly antibacterial, though it is toxic in large doses. When diluted it can be used as an inhalant and chest rub for respiratory infections. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Cooling’.
Description of Peppermint:
Mentha x piperita vulgaris;Peppermint is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation of Peppermint:
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for the production of essential oils, but plants also succeed in partial shade. Prefers a slightly acid soil. A commonly grown herb, it is often cultivated commercially for its essential oil. This is the black form of peppermint and it is said to produce a superior essential oil, making it the preferred choice as a food flavouring and for medicinal purposes. The oil is of better quality when the plant is grown on dry soils. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Companion Plant: A good companion for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to keep them free of insect pests.
Propagation of Peppermint:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.
Collection: The leaves and stems can be used fresh or dried, they are harvested for drying in August as the flowers start to open.
Culinary uses of Peppermint:
Actions: Carminative, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, aromatic,diaphoretic, anti-emetic, nervine, anti-microbial, analgesic.
Part Used: Aerial parts.
Indications: Peppermint is an excellent carminative, having a relaxing effect on the muscles of the digestive system, combats flatulence and stimulates bile and digestive juice flow. It is used to relieve intestinal colic, flatulent dyspepsia and associated conditions. The volatile oil acts as a mild anaesthetic to the stomach wall, which allays feelings of nausea and the desire to vomit. It helps to relieve the nausea & vomiting of pregnancy and travel sickness.Peppermint can play a role in the treatment of ulcerative conditions of the bowels. It is a traditional treatment of fevers, colds and influenza. As an inhalant it is used as temporary relief for nasal catarrh. Where headaches are associated with digestion, Peppermint may help. As a nervine it eases anxiety and tension. In painful periods, it relieves the pain and eases associated tension. Externally it is used to relieve itching and inflammations.
Preparations & Dosage:
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto a heaped teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This may be drunk as often as desired.
Tincture: 1-2ml three times a day.
Other uses of Peppermint:
Essential, Repellent, Strewing.
An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant. It is used medicinally and as a food flavouring. It is also an ingredient of oral hygiene preparations, toiletries etc. Peppermint leaves are used as an ingredient of pot-pourri. They were formerly used as a strewing herb. The plant repels insects, rats etc. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain.
Esoteric uses of Peppermint:
Use to increase the vibrations of a space or in spells and incense for healing & purification. Place in sleep pillow to ensure peaceful sleep and bring about prophetic dreams. Use to anoint furnishings and household objects. Burn in a new home to clear out sickness and negative energy. Use in magickal workings to provide the push needed to bring change to one’s life. Carry with other herbs to boost love & abundance wishes.
Constituents: The whole complex of primary plant constituents and a characteristic array of secondary plant constituents are present. Pharmacologically important constituents include an essential oil containing menthol, menthone and menthyl acetate as the major components, flavonoids.