What is Peppermint?
Peppermint is a favorite flavor the world over. You can find it in drinks, candies and desserts, beauty products, and as an ingredient in most cuisines. Actually a hybrid of hybrid of two other varieties of mint, watermint and spearmint, peppermint both grows wild and is cultivated.
It’s easy to identify plants in the mint family by their square stems. The peppermint plant produces purple flowers around the stems, and the leaves are slightly fuzzy feeling. There are now several varieties of peppermint, like candymint, chocolate mint, lemon mint, orange mint, lavender mint, lime mint, apple mint, and more. Any of these varieties will give you the same health benefits.
If you decide to grow peppermint you’re best to keep it to a container, even if you plant the container in the ground. Or just let it go, and go it will! Peppermint propagates through its root system and loves to spread out. It will quickly take over, often at the expense of other plants in your garden.
Benefits of Peppermint
Most of us have had the experience of sucking on a peppermint candy when we’ve had a stomachache or a bit of nausea, and there are lots of other uses as well.
- improved digestion: reduces gas, stimulates the flow of bile, promotes healthy bowel function
- pain reducer: soothes headaches and sore muscles
- relaxes the body and mind: prevents throat and chest spasms; reduces stress levels
- boosts the immune system: is antimicrobial, has trace elements of Vitamin B, potassium, antioxidants, and calcium
- reduces fever
- removes bad breath
Peppermint tea is my favorite way to receive all the benefits of peppermint. Since it’s an herbal tea, it’s pretty foolproof to make. To make a cup of it for drinking, just use 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint for an 8 ounce cup of water. Use water at a full boil, and let the leaves steep for 5 – 7 minutes, or longer if you want a stronger flavor. Or you could use a few leaves of fresh peppermint.
If you’re wanting to use peppermint on your skin, use 1 tablespoon of dried leaves, or 1 tsp of fresh leaves, in 8 ounces of boiling water and let steep until the brew is cool. This is safe for older children and adults, but is too strong for babies and toddlers.
Either way you make it, be sure to breathe in the steam as the tea brews to get even more benefit from the herb.
If you find straight peppermint to be too strong of a flavor, or if it irritates you in any way, you can still get many benefits of peppermint in a tea blend. These are some of our favorites:
No matter how you brew it, peppermint is fantastic!