Peppermint Packs a Powerful Punch

sister herb

Official TTI Chef

Botanical name:
Mentha x piperita

: Lamiaceae

Parts used:
aerial portions (mainly leaves, flowers)

aromatic, carminative, anodyne, stimulating nervine, anti-spasmodic, stimulating diaphoretic, anti-emetic

Used for:
stomach upset, hiccups, bad breath, colds, flu, fever, sinus congestion, gas, nausea, spasms, headaches, externally to soothe itching and inflammation of the skin

Plant preparations:
tea, tincture, wash, essential oil, culinary

It’s easy to overlook peppermint. I mean everyone knows about peppermint. If someone is going to have one herbal tea in their house it most often is peppermint. It’s famous in candies such as peppermint drops and candy canes and is a frequent flavoring in chewing gum and even over-the-counter medicine.

The distinctly cooling action is due to the plant’s high menthol content. This volatile oil is present in many mints and is one way this plant offers us powerful medicine.

The active constituent in peppermint is menthol and is responsible for the cooling effect peppermint has. Menthol also inhibits the nerves that react to painful stimuli, giving relief to muscle spasms, coughs, intestinal cramping and more.

What’s in a name…

You’ll notice that peppermint has a somewhat different botanical name. Mentha x piperita. The “x” lets us know that this plant is a hybrid. Peppermint is a cross between spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica). While many different mints have been in use throughout human history, it was only in the late 17th century that peppermint was recognized as a separate species in England. It was added to the England pharmacopeia in 1721.

Peppermint also offers some valuable nutrient qualities as well. One ounce of dried peppermint contains
540 mg of calcium, 220 mg of magnesium and 753 mg of potassium.


As an aromatic carminative…

Peppermint shines as an herb that helps with digestion in a myriad of ways.

Have a tummy ache? Try a cup of peppermint tea. Have a nervous stomach? Try a cup of peppermint tea. Have diarrhea? Try a cup of peppermint tea! Have gas and bloating after a meal? You guessed it! Try some peppermint tea!

Peppermint has the added bonus of freshening your breath.

Peppermint doesn’t just help with your every day or run-of-the-mill tummy aches. It has also been clinically proven to be helpful for people suffering with severe digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis although, for these complaints, peppermint oil is taken in an enteric coated capsule. This special capsule coating is strong enough to pass through the stomach and then dissolves in the intestines where the medicine is needed most.

From its stimulating, stomachic and carminative properties, it is valuable in certain forms of dyspepsia, being mostly used for flatulence and colic. It may also be employed for other sudden pains and for cramp in the abdomen; wide use is made of Peppermint in cholera and diarrhoea.

As an anodyne…

Peppermint works wonderfully to soothe pain. It is commonly used for headaches. It can help a variety of painful digestive complaints.

It can be applied externally to relieve pain as well.

Peppermint can also relieve the itching and inflammation of sunburns, poison oak/ivy and hives. You can use the tea as a wash or add a strong brew to bath water.

Oil of Peppermint is rubefacient and anodyne. It is used alone or in combination with other oils for the relief of neuralgia and toothache, in both of which it is often very efficient. …Still it is used largely to relieve local pain, especially that of burns and scalds.
Felter’s Materia Medica

As an antispasmodic…

Peppermint can ease tonic muscles. It can be used for menstrual cramps or a sore back. Have a tension headache? Try a poultice of peppermint over your forehead or at the base of your neck.

As a stimulating herb…

Peppermint is often referred to as a stimulating herb. It’s easy to envision coffee or tea when we talk about stimulating nervines since we know the caffeine content gives us that noticeable zing of temporary energy. And while peppermint doesn’t have the caffeine jolt, it does promote alertness.

For colds and flu…

Peppermint has long been used to address fevers that accompany the flu. It opens the pores of the body, allowing the heat to escape and making it a great choice for fevers when the person is restless and feels hot.
A traditional western herbal formula is the combination of elder flowers (Sambucus nigra, S. cerulea), peppermint and yarrow.

An infusion of equal quantities of Peppermint herb and Elder flowers (to which either Yarrow or Boneset may be added) will banish a cold or mild attack of influenza within thirty-six hours, and there is no danger of an overdose or any harmful action on the heart.

Peppermint can also be used as an herbal steam to break up congestion in the lungs. The essential oil can also be inhaled with similar effects.

Peppermint possesses aromatic, sudorific, and antispasmodic properties. It is an efficient agent in spasms of wind, sickness, colic, diarrhoea, and other acute attacks of similar nature. It is generally exhibited in the warm infusion, which is to be prepared, and kept, while warm, in a covered vessel, so as to prevent the escape of steam. …it frequently gives relief after failure with all other means previously employed.
John G. Hatfield
Botanic Pharmacopeia

Botanically speaking…

As a member of the mint family, peppermint possesses the opposite leaves and square stems that are an identifying characteristic for this family.


The flowers are white to pink to purplish and are arranged in whorls around the stem. Each individual flower has the characteristic lip shape of the mint family.


Peppermint grows anywhere from 12 – 35 inches tall.

Most peppermint does not produce viable seeds. The best way to propagate it is by root cuttings. Beware, the peppermint will take over wherever you plant it. One way to keep its growth in check is to plant it in a container. It prefers moist soils, but is famous for growing practically everywhere.

Plant Preparations…

Peppermint can be used in a variety of ways.

It can be made into a tea by infusing a tsp or more into 8 ounces of just-boiled water. Be sure to steep the peppermint tea in a covered container to decrease the loss of volatile oils. In five minutes you’ll have a lovely tasting tea.

Peppermint is commonly used as an essential oil. This can be used externally in ointments or taken internally. Please use caution when using any essential oil internally as it can cause serious problems if used incorrectly.

Infusing peppermint into oil leaves you with an oil that is great for sore muscles, pain, and cramping that can be used externally. It can also be used externally as a poultice or as a tea wash.

Special considerations…

Peppermint is generally safe for everyone.

In some sensitive individuals it can cause heartburn. Taken in excess it could dry up breast milk.



sister herb

Official TTI Chef
Peppermint and ants

Peppermint Ant Repellent Spray

15 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
5 drops Citronella Essential Oil
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
1.5 ounces distilled water and 1.5 ounces high proof alcohol

If you don’t want to use alcohol you can just use 3 ounces distilled water – the alcohol simply helps to disperse the oils more.


Fill a fine mist spray bottle (such as this one) with 1.5 ounces distilled water plus 1.5 ounces high proof alcohol (or 3 ounces distilled water). Add the peppermint, citronella and lavender essential oils, secure the cap and shake.

To Use:

Shake the bottle before each use. Test a small amount on kitchen surfaces to ensure the spray causes no damage. If no damage is caused then spray around kitchen surfaces and in places where ants enter. Be careful to avoid food and drink.

More Ant Repellent Tips

Add one drop of peppermint essential oil onto a cotton wool ball and place where ants enter. Or simply add one drop of peppermint oil to the ants entry source.

Ants do not like spearmint, peppermint, garlic and citronella essential oils.

Ants do not like spearmint, tansy, pennyroyal or peppermint plants. Grow these plants in pots and place around your doors.