Peppermint is the leaf of a hybrid between spearmint (M. spicata) and watermint (M. aquatica). Peppermint is also known by the names Mint, Balm Mint, Curled Mint, Lamb Mint, and Brandy Mint. The plant is found throughout Europe, in moist areas, along stream banks and in waste lands. Mint is one of the most ancient of all medicinal herbs.
Dried peppermint leaf is used in herb teas, either on its own or in mixtures. Peppermint tea is regarded as a stimulant, a cure for flatulence and has antiseptic properties. It is used in treating indigestion, sore throats, colds and toothache, among others. Peppermint, and other herbal teas are being consumed in increasing quantities by the general population purely for enjoyment rather than for their medicinal activity.
The primary constituent of peppermint oil is menthol, which causes a physical reaction when inhaled or applied to the skin. Menthol produces an immediate and pronounced sensation of coolness which the body reacts to quite strongly, producing its own "warming effect" as blood flows into the area of application. This physical sensation impresses the senses as a "medicinal" effect and is partially responsible for peppermint's long history of use as medicine. Today menthol is often found in sports creams and chest rubs.
Peppermint is an excellent carminative, having a relaxing effect on the muscles of the digestive system, combats flatulence, and stimulates bile & digestive juice flow. It is used to relieve intestinal colic, flatulent dyspepsia and associated conditions. The volatile oil in Peppermint acts as a mild anesthetic to the stomach wall, which allays feelings of nausea and the desire to vomit. This herb has long been known to relieve nausea & vomiting of pregnancy, and travel sickness. Peppermint is also used in the treatment of ulcerative conditions of the bowels. It is a traditional treatment of fevers, colds and influenza. As an inhalant, this herb is used as temporary relief for nasal catarrh. Where headaches are associated with digestion, Peppermint may help. As a nervine, it eases anxiety & tension. In painful menstrual periods, it relieves the pain and eases associated tension. Externally, it is used to relieve itching, inflammations, and a variety of respiratory conditions. Peppermint oil is also a great expectorant.