Tips for Growing Peppermint
Peppermint, Mint and M. balsamea Wild
Peppermint is a hybrid cross between the watermint and spearmint. It grows native in Europe, but can be found throughout much of the globe. Mint is so universally loved, that one can find this plant growing wild in almost every country of the planet where civilization has thrived. Mint has been used in food dishes, baths, herbal balms and nervine tonics for hundreds of years.
It has been a well-known digestive tonic, and is wildly popular in Arabic teas for its digestive properties. In Ancient Greece, the entire body was perfumed with mint, and was highly revered as an aphrodisiac, tooth whitener and overall breath freshener.
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
One of the best digestive aids on the planet, peppermint is also known as "the world's oldest medicine" according to archaeological fossils dating back ten thousand years ago. High in menthol, this plant has the capacity to reduce irritable bowel syndrome, reduce the symptoms of colic, and is a natural insecticide. Other properties of the plant include its cooling nature, which serves for its use in treating inflammation, headaches, fever, and indigestion.
Peppermint Cultivation and Growing Methods
A hardy perennial
Does best in rich, drained soil that is high in loam.
Thrives best in full or partial sun.
Grows well in most zones, excluding extreme conditions, is very invasive and known to take over gardens, so plant with caution. USDA Zones 3-7
Plant seedlings indoors in late winter or early spring. Once plants reach out 10cm tall, they can be moved outside.
Easily self-pollinates by spreading itself through runners.
Peppermint leaves can be harvested as soon as they begin growing in the springtime. The new leaves have the best flavor. Make sure to leave the smaller leaves to grow, and pinch back the new stem ends off of the new stem branch growth. This will keep your mint compact and manageable. When harvesting, leave at least 1/3 of the plant intact. The volatile oils of mint are most potent when harvested in the morning after the dew has dried off.
DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Dry peppermint quickly after harvesting, as they tend to mold quickly. Peppermint may be air dried by tying the stems into bunches. Hang the stems upside in a paper bag, in a cool, dry place. After two weeks, the herbs should be dried and ready to be crumbled and stored.
One plant can yield a limitless amount of mint, as this herb is a rapid grower and can withstand most weather conditions.
PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
Can be dried and stored as any herb or spice in an air-tight container.
ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
Peppermint oil has a wide usage base. It is used for dental care as it is a powerful antiseptic. It treats bad breath and is useful for treating toothaches. It is also a good bronchodilator, helping to relieve nasal congestion, cold and cough. It provides relief from stress and mental exhaustion. It is also a good immunity-booster, blood circulator and cooling hair-tonic for dandruff and lice.
The main oil responsible for the actions of peppermint are menthol, menthone, methyl acetate, and isomenthone.
IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
None, but talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
May interfere with the action of cyclosporine, medications changed by the liver, antacids.
Clinical Research About Peppermint
- Cappello, G.; et al. (2007). "Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial". Digestive and Liver Disease 39 (6): 530–536.
- Akdogan, Mehmet (2004). Investigation of biochemical and histopathological effects of Mentha piperitaLabiatae and Mentha spicata Labiatae on liver tissue in rats". Human & Experimental Toxicology 23 (1): 21 - 28.
- Sharma, Ambika et al. (2007). Protective Effect of Mentha piperita against Arsenic-Induced Toxicity in Liver of Swiss Albino Mice". Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology 100 (4): 249 - 257.
- PDR for Herbal Medicines, 4th Edition, Thomson Healthcare, page 640.
- USDA Plants Profile: Mentha x piperita.
- Bandolier Journal: Peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome
- RXList. http://www.rxlist.com/peppermint/supplements.htm
- Gray, Linda. Grow Your Own Pharmacy. 1992. http://www.botanical.com