Not just for those Mint Juleps, or dessert garnishes!
Oh Peppermint, how I love thee, let me count the ways! This is one of those fun multiple duty fixes that I have found works really well in most of its applications. Peppermint is another herb that has been used for medicinal purposes since pretty much time began. Egyptians, Greeks, Native Americans, Hebrews, you name ’em, if mint grew near by it was being used by the locals in culinary and medicinal ways.
Of course the manner of use and/or ingestion changes depending on the region. Desserts are common, and in North African cooking is part of savory dishes, as it can be in some new and ancient European dishes. It also shows up in many histories and myths. One of my favorite stories is that the Greeks thought it encouraged sexual behavior and it was forbidden for soldiers to consume it. Most likely due to the myth of its origin where Minthe a naiad of the river Cocytus (one of the five rivers encircling the underworld of Greek myth) so dazzled by the chariot of Hades was going to seduce him. Luckily, or unluckily depending on who’s side you’re on, Persephone, quite possibly the first documented case of Stockholm Syndrome, spotted this and turned Minthe into a plant that would be crushed under people’s feet. Hades supposedly took pity and softened the curse, so that when stepped on people would smell her sweetness.
So it is no surprise with this long history of humanity with mint that there are quite a few uses that can apply to not only assisting with pain, but also assisting with some of those not so fun side-effects when you do have to take your Doctor prescribed drugs.
One of the major issues I run into with my medications is nausea. And I have been successful using it as a tea, peppermint water, or just inhaling that delicious cold refreshing scent as a great way to settle the queasy feelings. Peppermint tea is fairly easy to obtain, you can purchase it at most chain grocery stores, and specialty stores almost always carry it. I think the best of the bunch is fresh mint tea.
Fresh Mint Tea
- 4-5 good sized stems of Peppermint
- 1 tea kettle of boiling water
- tea pot (a smaller 3-4 cup teapot is best)
Put Peppermint in tea pot (clean Peppermint of course) and add hot water. Cover. This is the most important step.
If you do not cover while you steep any tea with oils you will lose them if they are uncovered. So cover your tea! This is the main reason I suggest a tea pot, they usually have lids. If you have an Asian tea cup with a lid, this will get you the best results. You want to steep for five minutes, no more, no less. You want a sort of light green tea color. I love it just as it is, or if you really need that sweetener don’t go any further than some honey local to your area.
Pro Tip for Dried Tea: If you are using dried Peppermint tea it is preferable to use a covered tea pot (with a few bags) or covered tea cup to ensure that no volatile oils are lost. Just brew like you would the fresh, or according to package directions.
Mint has long been known as an aid to digestion, I mean why do you think every restaurant has a mint available as you leave? Why mints?! This is to help digest after over eating. It has recently been tested (SCIENCE!) and found to help with people that suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can benefit from Peppermint oil and teas. But if you have severe acid issues, it could cause issues, as Peppermint can severely increase acid issues.
DISCLAIMER: Peppermint will not settle everyone’s upset tummy! My husband is a prime example, it further upsets things. So remember test yourself and know yourself. If you have acid re-flux or other acid issues you may want to look into Chamomile or Ginger.
How to make it:
- 1 drop of therapeutic grade Peppermint oil
- 6-8 oz water (preferably filtered or otherwise)
That’s it, just put the oil in the water and drink it down!
Sometimes I just drink a glass because I like it, not many medicines you can say that about. Peppermint water is older than, well, dirt. Pretty much since water and peppermint were discovered they were married together. Peppermint water is helpful if you have a sore throat, if you are suffering from an upset stomach, and I find it opens the sinuses too. You can even add it to tea, but I suggest not adding it to a steaming cup, but as soon as it is cool enough to drink adding a drop.
Peppermint can also be a great muscle relaxing topical application, I have used it to alleviate the pain of some migraines caused by extreme muscle spasm. And have rubbed it into many a sore muscle after working hard at a T’ai Chi class. As with the Peppermint water, use therapeutic grade. You also want to use it sparingly, and avoid sensitive areas. Things like eyes, inside of the nose, areas with rash or broken skin, generally any sensitive area. If you are unsure you can try a test patch and rinse with luke-warm water and mild soap if you have a reaction, but it is always best to consult a professional if you have any sort of doubt.
As always, each person is different so go through your own trials with Peppermint and see what works best for you. Always educate yourself, check reactions on WebMD and consult a professional if you are ever in doubt!