Peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.) is a perennial herbaceous plant, stolonifera, highly aromatic, which belongs to the Labiatae family (Lamiaceae), and to the genus Mentha. It is a hybrid between Mentha aquatica and M. spicata (also called Mentha viridis).
The Mentha belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, the Kingdom Plantae, the Magnoliophyta Division, Class Magnoliopsida, Order Lamiales, Lamiaceae Family, Genus Mentha piperita Mentha species.
The genus Mint is one of the most complex in the plant kingdom and the reason must be sought in the ease of spontaneous hybridization between species. Generally, the mind can be divided into two groups depending on the shape of the inflorescence:
Mint longifolia, spicata Mint, Mint Suaveolens, Viridis Mint:
with flowers clustered in dense cylindrical spikes, terminals, stems without leaves.
Aquatic Mint: with flowers arranged in compact groups, spheroidal.
All species of mint are usually herbaceous plants with a square stem, sessile or spicciolate leaves, with rounded base, glabrous or tormenting. The flowers are small, varying in color, from blue, to pink, to white; They can be axillary, or verticillati spicati. The fruit consists of four achenes.
Peppermint: Peppermint natural hybrid viridis or spicata and Aquatic Mint, is also called “Mint of England” and has been recently introduced in the Italian Official Pharmacopoeia.
The term comes from the scientific Latin (mentha) peppermint, derivation of the Latin piper, Piperis, ie “pepper.”
According to the papyrus of Erbes 1550 BC, the mint was sacred to the god Thoth (Hermes greek), and was reserved for priests and initiates who prepared it with an ointment called Kifi, which served to keep alive the vital process and therefore the longevity , helping to make shiny also the mental state. The greek-Latin mythology, wants Pluto, god of the Underworld, fell in love madly of Minta nymph, daughter of the god of rivers Cocito, and that his wife, Proserpina (Spring), hurt and betrayed, the tramutasse in allowing the plant to dance the woods only through its heady scent. It is clear that in this set of symbols we see personified in Minta the vital principle of the ancient Egyptians, which propagates and regenerates in different forms, and that even attracts the God of the Dead, and that turned into the plant, then is rooted in the land from which it draws all its energy, while spreads all around her perfume which is opposed to that of death. This plant has rightly been considered strong enough, for these reasons, to awaken dormant ardor and great loves, so much so that in Arabia the mint tea is a popular drink and appreciated as to become a real cult. For the poor acts as an antiseptic since repels flies bearers of infections (by virtue of the menthol content), for the great gentleman serves as messenger of love and friendship pledge. The aphrodisiac properties of the mind have been too much vaunted to be questioned, the same inflorescence pointy ears reminiscent proud fouls. The etymological meaning of the word mint could be “a pleasing odor”. The ancients did not distinguish the different species of mint, and both Greeks and Romans used against intestinal fermentation, indigestion, for flavoring food and drink and cingersene the head during religious ceremonies. In the Middle Ages was compulsory cultivation of mint because it new and surprising was attributed such as: the ability to cure fevers, stimulate the stomach and intestines, to quell the hysteria, to treat vision disorders, to reduce swelling, to heal jaundice and chest diseases. Mattioli considered mint particularly suitable for “love games”, Galen advised against states of hysteria, along with ivy, to be applied in the patient’s nostrils, the Trousseau prescribed in nervous vomiting, in gastrodinie, spasmodic colic, in dyspeptic disorders and chlorosis. In fact the plant has tonic action and at the same time antispasmodic and analgesic “in virtue of which strengthens the entire nervous system, giving some force to move, others acuity to hear but not to suffer” (Deloux de Savignac 1875).
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Mint is native to Europe and is widespread all over the world. It grows well in temperate climates, but is absent in those with tropical climates.
Peppermint is a perennial and hardy herb that grows and grows easily if grown in your own garden or in pots, so you can always have on hand its fresh and fragrant leaves. Tolerates sandy soil and full sun exposure, which must be offset by frequent watering.
The peppermint is an herb high from few cm to about 70 cm, with erect stems and rhizomatous roots that greatly expands in the soil.
The leaves are opposite, simple, lance-shaped and covered with a light down bright green.
The flowers are collected in terminal tops, conical, which bloom from the bottom up. The individual flowers, simpetali and irregular, are small, white, pink or purple; the corolla, partially melted in a tube, opens in two lips, the upper with a single lobe, the inferior with 3 unequal lobes. Flowering occurs in summer and continues until autumn.
The fruit is a capsule that contains from 1 to 4 seeds.
See cultivation card.
Customs and traditions –
Peppermint has the following therapeutic properties:
anesthetic action: on the mucous membranes and on the skin causes an initial vasoconstriction followed by vasodilation then, in this way has local anesthetic action. This can also take place at the gastric level, inducing anti-emetic action.
analgesic action: the mint extract is an important remedy for headaches and tension-type headaches, with significant reduction in pain. Applied on the forehead and temples, a menthol solution, relieves all the symptoms of migraine such as nausea, vomiting and intolerance to light and noise.
antiseptic: mint has strong antiseptic, germicide and antiparassitiche thanks to its polyphenol content.
antilitica action: some studies have shown a possible capacity in the dissolution of stones in the gallbladder.
decongestant and balsamic: mint has a refreshing, decongestant and fluidifying of respiratory secretions, so is used to treat colds, fever and cough.
Cosmetic action: in cosmetics mint has a refreshing, tonic, and purifying.
carminative: mint works by relaxing the esophageal sphincter, reducing the volume of intestinal gas.
aromatic Action: mint is used in cooking and also for the production of drinks, liquors and confectionery products.
purifying action: very useful in cases of bad breath.
The main components of the Mint are:
An essential oil rich in menthol and menthone.
Enzymes (oxidase and peroxidase).
Caffainico acid and phenolic acid.
Intense flavor, is rarely used in the kitchen where they prefer other species of mint; of peppermint essence it is mostly used in the preparation of beverages and confectionery products.
In aromatherapy it is recommended as toning the nervous system, digestive tract, liver, bowel, reducing spasms and flatulence. It proves an effective expectorant, analgesic and antiseptic. It is used in case of indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, colds, flu, acne, toothache, migraine.
Is also used in pharmaceutical industry as a flavoring (mouthwashes, toothpastes, herbal tea) is antineuralgic and decongestant of the upper airways.
The Mint should be used with caution by people with gastritis and ulcers. Can produce side effects such as irritation of the mucous membranes, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and increased gastroesophageal reflux.
As a precaution, the use of the Mint is not recommended during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in case of gastritis, glaucoma, thyroid dysfunction, and hypersensitivity to one or more drug components. Menthol in high doses can be neurotoxic and is therefore not recommended in case of favismo.
Despite the Mint essential oil it is very irritating, both for the skin that to the mucous membranes, represents a valid therapeutic supplement for individuals with peptic ulcer.
Preparation mode –
Mint are used fresh or dried leaves and the essential oil. Mint is the following uses: in the form of dry extract, essential oil, powder, fluid extract and tincture.
Herbal tea of mint: helps to digest and makes fresh breath. Boil 1 liter of water and pour it on a handful of fresh leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried mint). Leave to infuse 5 minutes, then strain. Drink warm herbal tea and sugar. The herbal tea with mint, for its menthol content, is recommended for its digestive and tonic. It can help to relax the bowel muscles and to promote the secretion of bile and the digestion of food through the digestive system processes. Intake of herbal tea with mint is not recommended in the evening hours, as it may disturb sleep, up to cause episodes of insomnia. The infusion of peppermint, drunk in small sips, helps fight nausea, even during pregnancy or while traveling. Both the hot infusion is the essence remedies are effective in the treatment of colds, for example flu accompanied by fever. They can be consumed up to 500 milliliters of tea with mint day.
invigorating massage: Use 3-5 drops of essential oil of peppermint diluted in 30 ml of sweet almond oil or sesame seeds. The use of peppermint essential oil is recommended to carry out fumigations in the case of colds. Simply pour a few drops in a quart of boiling water and inhale the vapors that are given off. The mint essential oil should not be applied to the skin of children, but can be used in very diluted form in the preparation of cosmetic or massage oils intended for adults. The Mint essential oil is used for the preparation of herbal remedies useful to combat rheumatism. It can finally be used diluted in vegetable oil to make a relaxing massage and anti-stress at the temples and neck.
In case of insect bites: rub the affected area with 1 drop of essential oil.
To ward off insects: tread lightly a few mint leaves and pass them to the skin.
Mint mouthwash, breath fresheners and action antiseptic for the mouth, can be prepared leaving to infuse for ten minutes in 200 milliliters of boiling water, a teaspoon of dried mint leaves. The infusion obtained should be filtered and allowed to cool before being used as a mouthwash.
In the kitchen mint it is used to flavor sauces, vinegar, syrups. It can be used fresh or dried to be used as a herb to flavor dishes. It is excellent as a condiment for salads, for vegetables, legumes and cereals. It is used to flavor meat dishes or desserts such as the famous English mint sauce. The dried mint leaves can be used together with juice or lemon zest to create a summer aromatic drink, simply preparing a herbal tea that will then be allowed to cool. Rub on the fingers of fresh mint leaves can help eliminate bad odors left on the fingers of garlic or onion. The mint, finally, provides raw material especially for the liqueur industry as the extracts obtained from the leaves exert an activity eupeptic, ie promote digestion and, as such, enter into the composition of many bitter.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Please note: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgici uses are indicated for information purposes only, do not represent in any way a medical prescription; it accepts no liability on their use for therapeutic purposes, cosmetic or food.