The name “Peppermint” is almost equally popular among children & adults. While children like those cooling “Peppermint Pops”, adults prefer it in their cigarettes, mouth fresheners, sprays, deodorants etc. But natural, Peppermint Essential Oil is the essential oil obtained from peppermint. But
what is peppermint?
Let me tell you here that there are two different plants known by the name peppermint. The first one is a herb, a hybrid mint evolved from crossing Watermint (Mentha Aquatica) and Spearmint (Mentha Spicata). The second one is a tree with botanical name Agonis Flexuosa. Then which one is our peppermint. In this case, it is the first one that is commonly known as peppermint. This one is believed to have originated in Europe, but now spread all over the world. It thrives well in cool, moist climate. Peppermint is also sometimes called “Brandy Mint” and “Balm Mint”, may be due to its uses.
Scientific Name: The botanical name given to Peppermint is Mentha Piperita. In some instances, it is also referred to as Mentha Balsamea Willd. It belongs to the family Labiatae.
Extraction: The Peppermint Essential Oil is extracted through steam distillation of whole plant (fresh stem, leaves etc.) except roots. This yields 0.1% to 1.0% of the essential oil.
Physical Properties: The physical properties of Peppermint Essential Oil include;
- Colour: Transparent. Colourless to pale yellow.
- Texture: Light, with watery viscosity.
- Aroma: Refreshing & cooling strong aroma of menthol (mint).
- State: The oil is liquid at room temperature.
Chemical Composition: The prime constituent is Menthol, followed by a ketone called Menthone, Menthyl Acetate, Menthofuran, Limonene, Pulegone, Eucalyptol, Pinene (Alpha Pinene & Beta Pinene), Iso-Menthone, 1,8-Cineole, Germacrene-d and trans Sabinene Hydrate. It also contains traces of minerals like Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Calcium, Potassium & Copper as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin C & Folate.
Medicinal Properties & Health Benefits:
Where there are so many constituents, the medicinal properties & health benefits cannot be few. There is a whole list, just read below;
- Purgative or Laxative: This property in Peppermint Essential Oil makes it a well known remedy for constipation & irritable bowel syndrome. Its performance is found much better over that of placebo and that too, without any side effects.
- Carminative: This property aids in digestion and does not let gases accumulate in your intestines.
- Digestive: Its decoction helps giving relief in indigestion.
- Anti Flatulent: If you are having stomachache due to gas and want a relief, just add a few droplets of Peppermint Essential Oil in lukewarm water and drink it. You are sure to get a quick relief. This is mainly due to its anaesthetic property that relaxes the intestines and helps gas escape.
- Analgesic: The analgesic property of Peppermint Essential Oil is borrowed from its anaesthetic properties, which reduces pain.
- Anaesthetic: Its numbing effects gives effective cure in toothache, headaches and other pains. It also soothes nerves in some way.
- Anti Septic: Its application on wounds, cuts, bruises etc. gives them protection from infections and from going septic.
- Anti Galactagogue: A Galactagogue is an agent that enhances production & secretion of milk from mammary glands. Going by this, this oil reduces the production & flow of milk.
- Anti Phlogistic: This oil reduces fever & inflammation.
- Anti Spasmodic: This property helps cure all ailments related to spasm.
- Astringent: This makes it tone muscles, contract tissues and thereby strengthen hold of gums on teeth, hair roots etc.
- Cephalic: This means that Peppermint Essential Oil improves performance of brain and helps in its development.
- Cholagogue: If you have some problem with the improper secretion of bile & acids from liver into the stomach; or with that of insulin from the spleen, then this essential oil may be considered. It facilitates all sorts of secretions from endocrinal glands, liver in particular.
- Cordial: It gives a feeling of warmth and joy.
- Decongestant: It is very helpful in relieving congestion of lungs, respiratory tracts etc.
- Emmenagogue: Its Cholagogue property makes it an emmenagogue too, i.e. it helps clear obstructed menstruation and makes it regular.
- Expectorant: It expels extra mucus from the body.
- Febrifuge: It reduces fever by fighting viral infections.
- Hepatic: It is good for liver and keeps it healthy.
- Nervine: Peppermint Essential Oil keeps your nervous system healthy and relieves nerves of stress or sedates them.
- Stimulant: It stimulates circulation, secretions etc.
- Stomachic: It keeps your stomach free from problems.
- Sudorific: It effectively removes toxins from your body by increasing sweat production from sweat glands.
- Vasoconstrictor: It causes blood vessels to contract. This may be helpful in stopping bleeding.
- Vermifuge: It kills intestinal worms or other kinds of worms or insects found in the body.
- Anti Depressant: The cooling freshness of this oil makes you relieved and induces a sort of happy, relaxed feeling.
- Others: It is also found helpful in curing sinusitis, asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cholera, migraine, vertigo etc.
Other Uses: It is used extensively in confectionaries, sprays, deodorants, tooth pastes, mouth fresheners, cigarettes, candies etc.
Caution: It is non toxic, but may cause sensations and irritations on skin and internal membranes, particularly in eyes. Due to its emmenagogue & anti galactagogue properties, it should be strictly avoided in pregnancy. Children below the age of seven must be kept away from it.
Storage: In air tight dark coloured containers, away from sunlight, in a cool, dark place.
Blending: It blends with essential oils of Benzoin, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Marjoram, Lemon, Neroli, Orange and Rosemary.
Oh! There still remains a lot, but I am out of breath! See you later!