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Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) the Medicinal Garden

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According to legend, when Persephone found out that Pluto was in love with the beautiful nymph Minthe, she became so jealous that she changed Minthe into a small plant. Pluto couldn't break this spell, but he did make it a bit better making the plant have a sweet smell when trad upon. The name Minthe was changed to Mentha and is now the Genus of the herb Mint.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) has been used for everything from ceremonial tributes to curing the common hiccups. Here is a brief rundown of this plants attributes.

Description

 An aggressive perennial. Their square stems are one of the most distinctive features of all mints.

 Leaves: Opposite, simple, toothed, strongly scented.

• Fruit: Four, smooth, ovoid, nutlets.

Flowering

• Flowers are produced from mid summer until early fall.
• Tiny purple, pink or white growing in whorls.

Range

• Native to Europe and Asia.
 Naturalized throughout North America.
 

Habitat

 Wet habitats, especially in streams, wet lowlands, lakes, brook sides, wastelands and ditches.

History

 Dried peppermint leaves were discovered in the Egyptian pyramids that carbon dated to 1,000 BC.
 Egyptian medical text dating to 1550 BC, mint is listed as calming to stomach pains.
 Mentioned in thirteenth century Icelandic Pharmacopoeias.
 Romans grew peppermint in their gardens for use as a digestive aid.
 Pliny, Hippocrates and Aristotle thought peppermint discouraged sexual intercourse, but the Greeks said that it encouraged sexual behavior and forbade soldiers consuming it in order to keep control.
 In the Middle Ages it was used as a tooth polisher by monks, and was also used to keep rats and mice out of storerooms.
 Peppermint is actually believed to be a naturally occurring hybrid of spearmint and water mint.
 The Roman natural philosopher Pliny wrote of mint and of peppermint in particular that it stimulated the appetite stirring "the mind and appetite to a greedy desire of food." He also wrote that mint should be bound into a crown around the head in order to stimulate the mind and the soul.
 London Pharmacopoeia in 1721 listed it as a remedy for treating all manner of problems from sores, venereal disease, headaches and colds.

Uses Today

 Oil of peppermint contains menthol which is an antiseptic and anesthetic.
 Chewing a few peppermint leaves is thought to relieve a toothache.
 Used for digestive problems including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, irritable bowel syndrome, cramps of the upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts, upset stomach, diarrhea, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, and gas..
 Used for the common cold, cough, inflammation of the mouth and throat, sinus infections, and respiratory infections..
 Used for menstrual problems, liver and gallbladder complaints, and as a stimulant..
• Applied to the skin for headache, muscle pain, nerve pain, toothache, inflammation of the mouth, joint conditions, itchiness, allergic rash, bacterial and viral infections, relaxing the colon during barium enemas, and for repelling mosquitoes. Topically, it has a soothing and cooling effect on skin irritations caused by hives, poison ivy, or poison oak.
 Inhaled for treating symptoms of cough and colds, and as a painkiller.
 In foods and beverages, peppermint is a common flavoring agent.
 Used as a natural way to deter rodents in the home and outdoors.
 
 
Source: Various sources including WebMD and University of Maryland Medical Center

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand historical and medicinal uses of this plant. In no way are we suggesting or telling readers to use this plant as mentioned above.

 

 

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