Peppermint is classified as the hybrid mint, a mixture between spearmint and water mint. It is a plant which is native to the Middle East and Europe, but is now cultivated widely throughout the world. When found in the wild it will sometimes be accompanied by the parent species.
Origins of Peppermint
Peppermint is a perennial plant which originates in Eurasia and was first noted in 1753. At the time it was considered a species but now most consider it a hybrid. It reaches heights of between thirty to ninety cm and its stems are smooth with a cross section that is square in shape. Peppermint is very versatile and this allows it to be grown in multiple locales. In the wild peppermint plants produce an extensive amount of nectar which causes both bees and other species that harvest nectar to frequently forage on them. It is thus possible for a mild honey to be extracted if there is a large presence of plants.
Popular Uses of Peppermint
Peppermint is most notable for its usage in confectionary which is mint flavored. It has been used in this capacity for hundreds of years, and continues to be today. It is a popular ingredient for tea and is also added to chewing gum, toothpaste and ice cream. Peppermint has also been added to personal care products such as soaps and shampoo. When applied to the skin it produces a distinct cooling sensation which is the result of the menthol and its activation of TRPM8 skin receptors which are sensitive to cold.
Health Benefits of Peppermint
The peppermint plant is the subject of ongoing research for its possible usage in the treatment of numerous health problems. Peppermint is believed to be effective against irritable bowel syndrome and it has been investigated for its use for respiratory problems and inflammation. Peppermint oil in particular demonstrates antibacterial properties, and can also function as a secretolytic. It has also been found to be useful against pain involving both the nerves and muscles. Some doctors have found success in the usage of peppermint to reduce pain in patients who undergo a colonoscopy. Some believe that peppermint protects the liver against damage which can be caused by exposure to heavy metals.
A Look at Peppermint Essential Oils
Peppermint has a long history of being used for aromatherapy and traditional medicine. It is ideal for those who are looking for a natural alternative to over the counter medications as it can alleviate symptoms ranging from vomiting to stomach pain, nausea, bloating and indigestion. Peppermint has an aroma which is distinct, and is the subject of ongoing research for its potential usage in enhancing alertness and memory. While most people are familiar with its usage for culinary and medicinal purposes, peppermint has also been used in fields such as plumbing and construction in order to determine pipe tightness and due to its odor, peppermint can reveal the source of leaks.