Peppermint, Mentha x piperita; (Labiatae)
Peppermint, Mentha x piperita; (Labiatae)
Peppermint is a perennial herbaceous plant, with a creeping root, and erect, quadrangular, channeled, purplish, somewhat hairy stems, which are branched toward the top and about 2 feet in height. The leaves are opposite, petiolate, ovate, serrate, pointed, smoother on the upper than the under surface, and of a dark-green color which is paler beneath. The flowers are small, purple, and disposed in terminal obtuse spikes, which are interrupted below. The calyx is tubular, furrowed, and five-toothed, the corolla is also tubular, with its border divided into four segments, of which the uppermost is broadest, and notched at its apex. The anthers are concealed within the tube of the corolla; the style projects beyond it, and terminates in a bifid stigma. The four cleft germ is converted into four seeds, which are lodged in the calyx. The herb has a penetrating, grateful odor, somewhat resembling that of camphor. The taste is aromatic, warm, pungent, glowing, camphorous, bitterish, and attended with a sensation of coolness when air is admitted into the mouth. These properties depend on a volatile oil which abounds in the herb, and may be separated by distillation with water (Weiner:151).
Peppermint is classed as a stimulant herb, the most pungent of all the mints. Dr. Christopher also recommended it as a marvelous antispasmodic, which can give tone to the entire body as well. It is a soothing sedative for nervous and restless people of all ages, promoting relaxation and sleep--a wonderful combination of characteristics. On top of all that, it is a very delicious and welcome tea.
Dr. Christopher recommended that anyone taking the Thomsonian cleanse with lobelia--for asthma or other acute conditions--should take Peppermint tea beforehand. This allows the vomiting to take place without any discomfort to the person. He knew people that had vomited upwards of three hours without the least discomfort because they had first use the Peppermint tea.
Peppermint is one of the ancient herbs. It was prized in ancient Egypt; sprigs of it have been found in the pyramids, and instructions for distilling the oil have been found in ancient Egyptian manuscripts. For centuries, it has been a social drink among the Arabs, also considered a stimulant to virility. It was well-known to the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations as well.
The name comes from a Roman myth. Minthe, a beautiful nymph, attracted the god of the underworld, Hades. His wife, Persephone, who was stolen away when she was just a young maiden, learned of his infidelity. She transformed the girl into an herb, forcing her to live above the ground away from Hades below the earth, thus condemning her to spend eternity creeping above the ground seeking him, seldom rising more than two feet above the land. But Hades, in memory of their love, gave the new herb an extremely pleasant fragrance and aphrodisiac powers so everyone would love her. As she crept along the ground, she encountered a number of other plants, each of which fell in love with her. There were soon more than 3,000 members in her family, including Bee Balm, Horsebalm, Lemon Balm, Dragonhead, Heal All, Horehound, Marjoram, Sage, and Thyme (Keller:245).
Pliny wrote that the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with Peppermint at their feasts and adorned their tables with its sprays, and that their cooks flavored both their sauces and their wines with its essence. It was frequently mentioned by Dioscorides and Hippocrates as well. The Greeks scoured their dining tables with it before a meal, and added it to their bath water. The Romans used it to flavor sauce to stimulate the appetite. Pliny wrote that it makes men hungry for their meat.
We are familiar with the Biblical condemnation of the Pharisees, who paid tithe of mint and anise and cumin and yet omitted the weightier matters of the law. Many mints are common in the land of Israel, but we are not sure which variety this refers to. Hebrew synagogues formerly strewed mint stems and leaves over the floors, which yielded their fragrance as they were stepped upon (Moldenke: 140).
The Romans also used it as a strewing herb in their temples, to stir up the mind. They also used in their private chambers and places of recreation, pleasure and repose, where feasts and banquets were held, in order to attract the blessings of the gods. Since the herb was important in the religious rituals of the pagans, they paid their tithing in mint instead of money. It is said to be a symbol of the abandonment endorsed by the pagans. The priests extracted its aphrodisiac water for a sacred drink which they served to worshipers at Eleusis to animate everyone's spirits for the licentious orgies which concluded their rites. Although “its priesthood were sworn to chastity, like all such brotherhoods, they were noted for their licentiousness”, Keller reported (Keller:246). Early Greeks grew the mint so they would be able to welcome their gods, who often descended from Mount Olympus to visit them in disguises, then awaited an invitation for a lavish dinner.
The herb is mentioned in Icelandic pharmacopeias of the thirteenth century, and was used by East Indians to fill four-foot-high silver urns lining entrance halls to create a pleasant atmosphere and a fragrant welcome for guests. Later Romans served the leaves chilled on cracked ice as an appetizer for their famous feasts. Since the aroma reduced irritability, wives “crushed leaves into cocktails for their husbands, who were cross after spending a difficult day at the wars and driving a horse-drawn chariot home over dusty, rocky roads” (Keller:247). It was served by the Italians between heavy courses to refresh the palate. They also candied the leaves for desserts (Ibid).
During wars, Turks sent scouts ahead of the troops not only to reconnoiter but also to search through the woods and destroy any mint. It was thought that the plant was such a potent aphrodisiac that it would turn mens thoughts from war to searching for the country girls!
It was first recognized as a distinct species in England late in the seventeenth century. Its medicinal properties were quickly recognized, and it was admitted into the London Pharmacopeia in 1721, under the name M. piperitis satore. The oldest existing district in England for growing Peppermint is in the neighborhood of Mitcham in Surrey, where its cultivation from a commercial point of view dates from about 1750, at which period only a few acres of ground there were used for growing medicinal plants. At the end of the eighteenth century, however, above 100 acres were cropped with Peppermint, but so late as 1805 there were no stills at Mitcham, and the herb had to be carried to London for the extraction of the oil. By 1850 there were about 500 acres under Peppermint cultivation at Mitcham, and the Peppermint plantations of England have remained in that area to this day (Gri:537). It is also grown in several other areas in England.
In Europe, Peppermint was first grown in 1771 at Utrecht, but it is now grown in considerable amounts in many countries. In France, an inferior plant called “Red Mint” is grown and used as Peppermint, although some real English plants of superior quality are also grown. Japan peppermint is nearly 90% oil, but of inferior quality. Germany, Russia, and Hungary also grow Peppermint, as does British East Africa. However, the United States is the main producer of Peppermint in the world today.
Peppermint, along with the other mints, was thought to have magical qualities. Mixed with other herbs, it was made into a water for exorcising evil spirits.
Roman women used the herb for a special purpose. At a time when it was a penal offense, punishable by death for women to drink wine at all (because, said Horace, they selected the finest wines which the husband wanted for themselves), they would end their afternoon soirees by giving their guests fresh mint leaves to chew on to remove the odor of wine from their breaths so that they could safely meet their husbands.
During the eighteenth century, John Priestly studied the effects of noxious air on mice. He reported his findings that when mice breathed air that had been made thoroughly noxious from their own exhalations and other mice dying in it, he added a growing sprig of mint in one vial. The other vial he kept as it was. The one in the vial with mint remained perfectly well, while the one without mint died. During epidemics of plague when hospitals were vastly overcrowded, early English doctors gave patients sprigs of mint to smell and asked relatives to bring the plants to the patients instead of cut flowers. In Holland, nurses carefully tended open tubs of boiling water containing whole branches of mint to purify the air (Keller:248).
Gerard wrote that mint tea prevented seasickness. He recommended using it as an eyewash for people who weren't used to the salt air on sea cruises. It prevented heat prostration in field workers. He also recommended it for a variety other ailments.
Langham before him said that it would help bring on menstruation and would help relive the pain of a woman in hard labor before childbirth.
From earliest times in England it was used in preparations to clean the teeth and freshen the breath.
Mint was thought to have been brought over from England by the Pilgrims. It was found wild in America only rarely before then, although its habit of rapid spraying, which can be an annoyance to the home herb gardener, as it will often take over gardens and lawns where it is planted, quickly sent it all over the country. The Indians were said to have used it as a vermifuge, along with the traditional ways of using the herb as a digestive and carminative.
Mint growing first become an important agricultural activity on the mucklands of northern Indiana and southern Michigan in the early 1900's. Verticillium wilt discouraged growing there, and production shifted chiefly to the Columbia River basin of Oregon and Washington. It is said that the Midwestern area oil is superior to that of the West, however, because the western oil must be fractionated to remove certain unfavorable flavors and aromas. Mints do well on moist, organic soils. In the West, where these are lacking the crop is usually irrigated, which may account for some of the variations in flavor.
Peppermint is used for most of the minor ailments that plague people. It is a prime remedy for colds and flu. The classic formula for these ailments, which is said to break a fever quickly, is a combination of equal parts of peppermint and elder flowers. This is made in a usual infusion and given hot to the sick person, who goes to bed and keeps warm until he begins to sweat. Sweating always breaks the fever (and that is why we hurry to make the patient sweat; dry fever kills, but a moist, sweating fever kills germs and brings the patient to better health than he was before the illness). You can also make hot cups of infusion, as strong as you like, for the same purpose, without the elder flowers. The formula is soothing for restlessness and nervousness that often accompany the onset of illness; it can be used to calm people of any age no matter what reason their nervousness.
In place of aspirin or other inorganic, harmful painkilling drugs, take a cup of strong peppermint tea, lying down for a little while. It should relive the pain quickly; if need be, take two or three cups. This strengthens the nerves instead of weakening them as so many of the drugs do. Furthermore, it has been shown that aspirin destroys some of the bacteria-resistant protection in man; peppermint tea, on the other hand, only strengthens the person against disease.
Dr. Shook recommended making a “Ready Peppermint Water” to be mixed for instant use, such as relieving pain almost instantly, to cure nausea and vomiting, to calm the nerves and reduce inflammation in stomach and intestines, to act as a sleep-bringer, and to flavor nauseating medicines. To make this water, triturate ½ teaspoonful oil of Peppermint in ½ teaspoon purified talc and ½ teaspoon powdered sugar. Triturate for five minutes. Add 1 tablespoon glycerine and triturate again for five minutes. Add 2 ounces of distilled water and triturate. Pour through a filter paper into a glass container. Rinse out mortar without enough distilled water to gather the remainder of the ingredients. Pour into filter, stir, and allow to filter. If the first filtrate is not clear, add two ounces distilled water; and filter again. This is somewhat tedious, he says, but once the mixture is made, it will keep indefinitely, and will always be ready for use. This is extremely strong (1 part in 64), and can be used, taken in hot water in honey, as needed. It also mixes with alcohol or glycerine in any proportion (ShoA:258).
For severe pain, Shook recommended a strong decoction of peppermint. This was made by mixing 3 ounces of peppermint leaves, cut, in 1 quart of hot distilled water. This was covered and let stand for two hours. Bring to a boil, then simmer slowly for five minutes. Add 4 ounces glycerine and again simmer for five minutes. Strain, cool, and bottle. This is given when a person suffers pains and feelings of discomfort in the stomach and abdominal region without knowing the cause. These pains, Shook said, tend to create all kinds of fears of ulcers, cancer, and other dreaded diseases, and a double dose of the above formula, made hot by the addition of boiling water, will bring “almost magical relief', both physically and mentally, because when the pain disappears, the fear of diseases such as cancer also disappears (ShoA:257).
This brings us to the other most common use of peppermint, the relief of gas in the system. Many people, because they lack sufficient enzymes, or do not chew their food properly, or eat improper combinations of foods or improper foods, suffer from flatulence. Some foods, such as the legumes, contain chemicals which cause gas formation in the system, although certain methods of cooking them can reduce the gas considerably. However, many people take a cup of Peppermint tea after meals as insurance against flatulence. Taken with meals, it will assist digestion generally (Bethel: 134) and is much a preferable beverage for everyday use instead of coffee or tea, which hinder proper digestion and cause health problems generally. The mint will get rid of a queasy stomach and nausea; for this purpose it is often mixed with camomile, which has pain reducing and relaxing properties as well (Nebelkopf:69). Many of us have experienced sudden, sharp pains in the abdomen, which are often caused by pockets of gas cramping in the system. Peppermint relieves these almost immediately; it is therefore a good remedy for colic in infants. The leaves can be slightly warmed and bound on the infant's abdomen, which is a good method especially in cases of small infants who cannot tolerate the proper amount of tea. Some people mix a little of the extract or oil of Peppermint and give it with a little water or (though we don't recommend this) on a cube of sugar to the ailing child. Usually the baby's system is out of balance, and the sugar would tend to imbalance the child further, as it leaches the calcium out of the body. We are convinced that many cases of the nursing bottle syndrome (which often happens to nursing babies who have never seen a bottle) are due to this imbalance of calcium in the system, which is often acidic and overloaded with foods that the child cannot digest. It is better to nurse the child more, give it fresh juices and mild teas, and administer the peppermint tea. Levy explained that she thinks the baby bottle with its rubber nipple is unclean and insulting to the child. She prefers giving the baby spoonfuls of the herb (or even goat's milk or nut milk if mother's supply is insufficient) rather than using a bottle. We have used a (very clean) little baby spoon to administer herb teas, and it works admirably. You can sweeten the Peppermint tea with honey if the baby is not tiny; some cases of honey-caused deaths have been reported in young infants, as there is some constituent of the honey that the youngest infants are not able to tolerate. Maple syrup, pure, is well-tolerated in these cases.
Peppermint is a powerful stimulant, and will bring the body to its natural warmth, helping in cases of sudden dizzy or fainting spells, with extreme coldness and a pale countenance (Kloss:293).
It is given in cases of diarrhea, and some doctors consider that it is one of the surest, as well as the simplest, remedies for this complaint. As soon as the diarrhea appears, drop 15 drops of essence of Peppermint in a cup of hot water, and sip with a spoon as hot as can be borne. Repeat every three hours until cured (Lucas: Nature's:191). The essence of Peppermint is also valuable in a nervous sick headache, such as a migraine. To a cupful of water add one teaspoonful of the essence; saturate a cloth with it and apply to the head and temples. For many persons this gives quick relief As soon as the cloth becomes dry, wet the cloth again. In seasickness, the essence is taken, one teaspoonful in the cup of hot water, sweetened. You can take a swallow occasionally, warm if possible. This is one of the few herbs that the oil and essence are used without danger of overdosing, although they should always be mixed with water for internal use.
The oil of Peppermint can be applied, straight, to an aching tooth while awaiting a trip to the dentist. It works, like oil of Cloves, to relieve the pain.
To make an excellent liniment for reducing the pains of rheumatism, sciatica, lumbago, stiff and swollen joints, congestion of the chest, sore throat, and so on, including sores, even purulent sores and gangrene, Dr. Shook recommended making Liniment of Peppermint. To do so, heat 1 pint of pure olive oil, and add to it 1 dram (teaspoonful) of oil of Peppermint, 1 dram, menthol crystals, and 1 dram of flowers of camphor. Mix in a warm jar or bottle, shaking until dissolved. Let stand until cool, then keep in a cool place (ShoA:258). This can also be used to reduce varicose veins, clear up acne, boils, abscesses, eczema, etc.
Peppermint oil was official in the 25th edition of the U.S. Dispensatory with the following uses:
“...it is generally regarded as an excellent carminative and gastric stimulant, and is still widely employed in flatulence, nausea and gastralgia. In a study on human beings Van Liere and Nortrup concluded it had no perceptible effect on the emptying tie of the stomach. Heinz.. .claimed that it is an active cholagogue and recommended its use in gallstones. As a local application for coryza, it was used in strengths of from 0.5 to 1 percent in liquid petrolatum or olive oil. Incorporated into a lozenge it has been used as a pleasant and efficient antiseptic and anesthetic in pharyngitis. For internal administration it may be dispersed in sugar and given in aqueous solution, or more commonly in the form of the spirit. It is popular as a flavoring agent.”
In China, the plant is called Wu-pa-ho, although formerly it was called Soochow. It is given in fevers, colds, nervous disorders of children, nosebleed, fluxes, snake and insect bites, and diseases of the nose and throat (Li Shih-Chen).
In India, it is given in cases of vomiing, gastric colic, cholera, diarrhea, flatulence, etc. It is also given in such preparations as Noxzema Medicated Cream, Solarcaine, and Unguentine. It is also used in poison ivy treatments and diaper rash medication. It is used as a counter-irritant in analgesic preparations such as Absorbine Jr., Ben-Gay, Mentholatum, and Vicks Vaporub (Tyler: 121).
Peppermint is violently disliked by rats and can be used in their eradication (Barlow:39).
Of course, one of the nicest uses of Peppermint is culinary. Euell Gibbons pointed out that to him Peppermint wasn't a medicine, but a delightful food. He had samples of wild mint analyzed for vitamins A and C and found that the freshly picked plant, had, on the average, approximately as much vitamin C as the same weight of oranges, and more carotene, or provitamin A, than do carrots, making this herb an excellent source of both vitamins (Gibbons:74). Instead of just an occasional garnish or flavoring you can use mint freely in your diet. In the near East, it is the main ingredient of salads, some of the best Gibbons has ever eaten, he said. Add a quantity of finely-chopped mint to almost any tossed salad, for it seemed (to him) to combine well with all salad materials. It must be chopped very fine, and the salad must be thoroughly tossed, but don't be afraid to add enough mint. When it is tempered by oil and vinegar and mingled with the flavors of other greens, it takes at least a half-cupful of chopped mint to properly flavor a big bowl of salad (Gibbons:76).
Gibbons gave another original and very good recipe for using the fresh mint, Mint Aspic. Into the electric blender container put the juice of 1 lemon, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup sugar or honey, 1/4 cup water, and 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin. Let stand a few minutes until the gelatin has softened, then add 2 cups boiling water, turn on the blender and blend at high speed, gradually adding 2 packed cups of clean, fresh mint. Blend until smooth, then pour into a large mixing bowl and set in refrigerator. When it is set until it barely mounds, stir it well and pour into a mold that has been rinsed in cold water. You must stir it or the mint will settle to the top of the mixture. When it is ready to serve, dip it in warm water to unmold and it will slip out easily. A small serving of this aspic will give you more than your daily requirements of vitamins C and A, he said. If you don't like the color of this aspic, you can add a couple of drops of green food coloring to cheer it up a bit (Gibbons:76).
If you want to make Mint Jelly, Gibbons recommends that you never boil it. In a 3-quart saucepan, instead, put 2 cups of freshly picked mint and crush it thoroughly with a potato masher. Add 2 cups of boiling water. Invert the saucepan lid and fill it with water and ice cubes. The volatile oils will condense on this cool lid and go back into your mixture. Bring the water to a simmer, remove from the heat, and allow to steep for ten minutes.
Strain and add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 4 cups of sugar, and just enough green food coloring to tint the syrup a light emerald green. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add 1 package of commercial powdered pectin dissolved in 3/4 cup of hot water, brought to a boil and boiled hard for 1 minute. Stir this pectin solution into the mint syrup, then pour into classes and sea. He uses tall, thin jars that hold about 1 cupful each, and pours them only half full, being very careful to pour the jelly so no bubbles appear on the top. Then, when this has set, he takes a tiny sprig of fresh mint and sets it into the jelly in each jar. He makes another batch of mint jelly and fills the jars, leaving the sprigs of mint nicely visible in the jelly. This should be stored in the freezer (Ibid.).
He also made a wonderful uncooked Mint Jam which keeps intact all the vitamin content. Put 2 cups of fresh mint in your blender, add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, ½ cup of water, and 4 cups of sugar (we would reduce or eliminate the water and just add about half the amount of honey). Blend until smooth. Prepare the pectin mixture as above and pour this hot mixture into the blender with the other ingredients and blend on slow speed for 1 minute. Pour it quickly into the jars and sea, freezing. It is a favorite condiment to use when fresh mint is not available.
Peppermint vinegar is made by filling a bottle with clean, freshly picked peppermint. Cover with apple cider vinegar and let steep for two weeks; strain off the vinegar. A small fresh sprig of mint can be added to the final bottles for beauty and quick identification. In small, decorative bottles, this is a lovely Christmas gift.
Mint puff biscuits are made by chopping peppermint finely and mixing with pastry dough. They are cut into shapes, placed on a greased baking sheet, and baked quickly. We sometimes put a little honey into this mixture for a sweet dessert biscuit (Hat:138).Peppermint butter is made by chopping finely a desired quantity of mint leaves and blending with softened butter, putting the mixture into a mold as desired. This is very nice on cooked vegetables, especially zucchini and those of the cabbage family.
You can line a cake pan, as did our pioneer foremothers, with fresh peppermint leaves instead of greasing it. This works to give a wonderful flavor to cakes. You should, however grease the sides of the pan.
A good beverage is made by mixing cold Peppermint tea with apple juice and chilling. Mint ice cubes, frozen with a small sprig of mint in the center, make this a party drink.
Some people add cold Peppermint tea to their pie crusts instead of using Ice water. It makes a good flavor, subtle but pleasant.
Finely-chopped mint is wonderful added to fresh-fruit salads. You can garnish the combination with a few mint leaves.
Industrial uses include the testing of the tightness of pipe joints with Peppermint oil. It has the faculty of making its escape, and by is pungent odor betrays the presence of leaks.
CULTIVATION, COLLECTION, PREPARATION
Any humus, moist soil will support the growth of Peppermint admirably. When you plant it, you should be sure to contain it, if you don't want it to overtake the rest of your garden. Be sure that you are planting Peppermint starts, if that is what you want. Peppermint is a different plant from spearmint. It has a dark-green, smooth leaf, while spearmint is hairy. When you chew Peppermint, it gives a cool feeling to the mouth, while spearmint does not do so.
To grow the herb commercially, it is necessary to obtain a good strain of mint that yields a large quantity of good oil. The plant thrives in a warm, moist climate, and in deep soils rich in humus and retentive of moisture, but fairly open in texture and well-drained. These conditions are frequently found in well-drained swamp lands, but the plants may be commercially cultivated in well-prepared upland soils such as would produce good corn or potatoes. It flourishes in America in what is known as muck land, those broad level areas, often several thousand acres in extent, of deep fertile soil, the beds of ancient lakes and swamps where the remains of ages of growths of aquatic vegetation have accumulated.
The usual method of Peppermint culture in America is to dig runners in the early spring and lay them in shallow trenches, 3 feet apart in well-prepared soil. The growing crop is kept well-cultivated and absolutely free from weeds and in the summer when the plant is in full bloom, the mint is cut by hand and distilled. A part of the exhausted herb is dried and used for cattle food, for which it possesses considerable value. The rest is cut and composted and eventually plowed into the ground as fertilizer.
The area selected for Peppermint growth should be cropped for one or two years beforehand with some plant that requires a frequent tillage. This is continued as long as possible. The land is not good for constant growing of Peppermint, as it tends to exhaust the soil after a couple of years.
In England, a rich and friable soil is tilled well. The plants are propagated in the spring. When the young shoots from the crop of the previous year have attained a height of about 4 inches, they are pulled up and transplanted into new soil, in shallow furrows about 2 feet apart, lightly covered with about 2 inches of soil. They grow vigorously the first year and throw out numerous stolons and runners on the surface of the ground. After the crop has been removed, these are allowed to harden or become woody, and then farmyard manure is scattered over the field and plowed in. In this way the stolons are divided into numerous pieces and covered with soil before the frost sets in; otherwise, if the autumn is wet, they are liable to become sodden and rot, and the next crop fails. In the spring, the fields are often dressed with Peruvian Guano (Gri:539).
Liberal manuring can make the difference between a mediocre crop and a good one. Peppermint is said to require, per acre, 84 lbs. of nitrogen, 37 lbs. of phosphoric acid, and 139 lbs. of potash. Ground bone and lime do not seem to be of much benefit. A good well-rotted compost should supply most of the needed elements; in France, sewage is extensively used, together with sesame seeds which have had their oil pressed out.
Properly cultivated, one acre can yield from two to three tones of Peppermint, but this can only be expected from fields that have been best managed. Weeds can substantially reduce the amount of oil from any field, and new plantings have to be carefully hand-weeded.
Peppermint requires frequent irrigation if the soil does not remain moist on its own. It is important to keep the soil constantly moist though well-drained. Absorption of water makes the shoots more tender, thus facilitating cutting, and causes a large quantity of green matter to be produced.
In England, a plantation lasts about four years, the second year producing the best Peppermint. The fourth-year crop is rarely good.
Few pests trouble Peppermint, although crickets, grasshoppers and caterpillars may do some damage (Ibid.).
The herb is cut just before flowering. Sometimes a second crop can be obtained, much like hay. It should be carried out on a dry, sunny day, in the late morning when all traces of dew have disappeared. In many places, the herb lies on the ground for a time in small bundles, raked into heaps. In other countries the herb is distilled as soon as it is cut. The oil seems to be best if distilled right after cutting.
Commercial distillation is as follows. The herb is carted direct from the fields to the stills, which are made of copper and contain about 500 lbs. of the herb per still. Before putting the Peppermint into the still, water is poured in to a depth of about 2 feet, at which height a false bottom is placed, and on this the herb is then trodden down by men. The lid is then let down, and under pressure the distillation is conducted by the application of direct heat at the lowest possible temperature, continuing for about four and a-half hours. The lid is then removed, and the false bottom with the Peppermint resting on it is raised by a windlass, and the Peppermint carried away in the empty carts on their return journey to the fields, where it is placed in heaps and composted. The usual yield of oil is 1 ounce £rom 5 pounds of the fresh flowering plant (Gri:540-1). This is the process long used in England; in America the process is much more automated.
For companion planting, Peppermint planted or strewn between cabbages protects them from the white cabbage butterfly. Peppermint growing with camomile will be hindered in its oil production, while the camomile itself benefits from this association and will have a higher oil content. Peppermint, if planted with stinging nettle, will have nearly double the oil content (Phil:68-9).
In the home garden, pick the plant's tops just before the flowers burst open. Dry it quickly in a warm, airy place out of direct sun. When it is completely dry, crumble it and store it in a cool, dry, airtight place. Be sure to cap it well each time you remove herb for use.
When you make the tea, never boil it. Add boiling water to the crushed herb, lid well, and allow to steep for three to five minutes. The herbs medicine and flavor reside in its volatile oils, which will escape if the herb is boiled.
The oil is contained in glands in the leaves. This oil contains the medicinal properties. These are from 50 to 78% free menthol and from 5 to 20% combined menthol in various esters such as the acetate. It also contains positive and negative gram menthone, cineole, negative gram limonene, positive gram isomenthone, positive gram neomentohne, and negative beta caryophyllene (Tyler:118).
Sometimes people are allergic to the Peppermint flavoring in toothpastes. In six years, there were seven cases of contact dermatitis with peppermint-flavored toothpaste, although this is unusual due to the local factors in the mouth, the low sensitizing potential of the flavors, and the lack of recognition (“Contact allergy to Toothpaste Flavors,” Contact Dermatitis, August, 1978, Volume 4 Number 4, pages 195-9).
Clinicians are becoming increasingly aware of the functional capabilities of sensory systems in the newborn infant. When the odor of Peppermint was introduced to sleeping infants they responded by sucking or a combination of sucking and general arousal. Habituation after three or four days lessened these responses (“Olfactory reflexes in the newborn infant,” The Journal of Pediatrics, April, 1978, pages 624-6).
The sucking of Peppermint lozenges stimulated the salivary flow and could be used to help people whose salivation is decreased due to illness or injury (“Relationship between Swallow Rate and Salivatory Flow, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, Vol. 29 No. 6, June, 1984, pages 528-33).
Peppermint oil was used to flavor topical lidocaine which is used to anesthetize the pharynx and nasal passage before bronchoscopy. Most patients thought that it tasted much better than unflavored lidocaine. Although some people think that this might be ingested by children or incapacitated patients, the doctor explained that it is only used in hospitals or offices, so the danger is minimal (“Peppermint Flavored Lidocaine, a letter, New England Journal of Medicine, August 23, 1979, page 437).
Peppermint oil capsules have acted locally to reduce irritated bowels which spasm during colonoscopy (Peppermint Oil to Reduce Colonic Spasm during Endoscopy,” a letter, The Lancet, October 30, 1982.
DR. CHRISTOPHER'S COMBINATIONS CONTAINING PEPPERMINT
Barberry L.G., the liver and gall bladder combination, contains Peppermint.
AT-GS, the anti-flatulence formula, contains Peppermint.
The Herbal Tooth Powder features Peppermint.
The Nose Ointment contains Peppermint
Many of the ointments are scented with Peppermint.