By Jeanne Rose ~ April 2022
INTRODUCTION to Peppermint ~ Just don’t call it mint, call it what it is. Is it Spearmint, Peppermint, or Menthol-mint (Mentha arvensis). There are 13 species of the Mentha genus, named below. We are only discussing Peppermint whose chemistry includes menthol.
COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL OF THE MINTS ~. Here they are. The ones with the ‘x’ are manmade crosses, considered sterile and do not produce seed, and must be duplicated by cloning or by replanting the underground stems. Those in bold will reproduce by seed.
FAMILY NAME ~ Lamiaceae (Labiatae) is a family of flowering plants that are commonly known as the mint or deadnettle or sage family.
The Mint Species
Mentha aquatica L. – Watermint
M. arvensis L. – wild mint or Japanese menthol-mint
Native Mint (Mentha canadensis?) is grown and used in Michigan
M. x gracilis Sole – ginger mint
M. x muelleriana F. W. Schultz – mint ([arvensis ssp. arvensis × suaveolens]
M. x piperita – peppermint [aquatica x spicata]
M. pulegium L. – pennyroyal
M. requienii Benth. – Corsican mint
M. x rotundifolia (L.) – Egyptian mint
M. x smithiana Graham – Smiths mint or Red Mint
M. spicata L. – spearmint
M. suaveolens Ehrh. – apple mint
M. x verticillata L. – whorled mint [aquatica × arvensis]
M. x villosa Huds. – mojito mint [spicata × suaveolens]
COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS of Peppermint ~ England, France, USA, Italy, Russia, and China.
I once had a lovely sample of Peppermint oil that had -0- menthol in it. It had been bred that way and only contained menthone.
Endangered or Not ~ Since Peppermint is a sterile, cultivated, and hybrid plant it is not endangered.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Peppermint was first described by Linnaeus in 1753. Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between Watermint and Spearmint. It is indigenous to Europe and the Middle East; the plant is now widely spread and cultivated in many regions of the world. Peppermint grows up to three feet, with small leaves, pinkish mauve flowers arranged in a long, conical shape and underground runners that spread widely. Since the plant does not develop a seed, it must be reproduced by cuttings and replanted every year in new soil.
Yes, Peppermint is a sterile hybrid (specifically called an F1 hybrid) of two other species of mint, as mentioned above. Since one of the parents is fertile, an occasional seed may possibly be produced and these develop into the F2, and their characteristics can vary across the entire spectrum between the two original parent species. It’s possible that your plant may look like another mint but have a menthol-type scent of Peppermint. Purchase plants from a trusted source.
PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS, AND YIELDS ~ The whole plant above ground, just before flowering, is steam-distilled while fresh or partially dried. Yield: .1-1.0%.
GENERAL PROPERTIES OF PEPPERMINT HERB AND ESSENTIAL OI9L
(USED by IG=ingestion or IN=inhalation or AP=application):
_____Application: Antiseptic, antibiotic, tonic, anti-parasitic, analgesic, respiratory decongestant.
_____Ingestion: Antiseptic, carminative, stomachic, antispasmodic, depurative, tonic, expectorant, digestive.
_____Inhalation: Stimulant, tonic, decongestant.
USES OF PEPPERMINT OIL AND HERB
Peppermint is not to be confused with Spearmint and vice versa.
CAUTION • Use less than more and not with small children or pets.
All the herbs called Mint have been used extensively for medicinal properties for over 3000 years. The herb can be used internally as a tea, herb and EO can be used to make poultices or balms; specifically, Peppermint EO can be inhaled to make use of its high menthol content to reduce airway pain and irritation and suppress coughing. Mints have many medicinal properties that include stomachic, carminative, stimulant, calmative, diaphoretic, febrifuge, anesthetic, disinfectant, nervine, sudorific and vermifuge. The following afflictions have been treated with a Peppermint herb or essential oil:
“Acne A pinch of Peppermint herb and Rosemary herb as a compress makes a good astringent in cleansing the infected area.
Bronchitis Peppermint herb tea is excellent as an expectorant, as is inhaling the vapors of mint and eucalyptus, the mint for its high menthol content.
Burns Peppermint oil is used as an ingredient in a balm to rub on burns and sunburns, as its menthol cools the afflicted area.
Colds Peppermint herb is used to ease coughing and the oil in a blend is used for inhalation.
Dandruff Peppermint herb mixed with Rosemary herb and vinegar is massaged into the scalp for relief of itching. An added benefit is the coolness of the menthol, which promotes a positive psychosomatic response to the treatment.
Digestive Ailments An overall aid to most digestive disorders, Peppermint herb and oil is especially beneficial in the treatment of flatulence, diarrhea, colic, retching, and vomiting. Peppermint tea has been proven to stimulate the gastric lining, lessening the amount of time that food spends in the stomach. It is also said to relax the stomach, promoting burping. A poultice of Peppermint or Spearmint leaves over the stomach region also helps to aid in digestive distress. Peppermint herb also helps to alleviate the amount of gas in the digestive system. Most mint tea also helps to promote appetite.
Headaches Peppermint oil can be rubbed on the temples or in the affected area. The coolness of the menthol, along with the aroma help in both minor and migraine incidents. The Lakota Indian tribe used strong wild-mint tea to treat all forms of headache.
Inflammation Peppermint oil or a poultice containing mint leaves can be used to reduce inflammation in muscle groups, joints, as well as varicose veins. It is also a great palliative treatment for gout.
Liver Problems Peppermint tea helps to promote the flow of bile in the digestive system, helping to cleanse the liver and gall bladder. It also may help in the reduction of kidney stones.
Nerve Afflictions Facial tics and sciatic nerve spasms are treated by rubbing the Peppermint oil directly on the affected area.
Nervous System All mint teas have a soothing quality and are used to treat nervousness, fatigue, nausea, vertigo, hiccoughs, palpitations, anger, confusion, depression, and mental strain. A combination of Spearmint and Peppermint is especially pleasant.
Rashes Peppermint oil diluted in neutral alcohol or carrier oil can be rubbed on poison ivy rash, diaper rash, and athlete’s foot.
Toothache A drop of Peppermint oil can be used directly on the source of pain to help alleviate the pain from both cavities and gum disease.
Travel Related Afflictions Inhaled from a handkerchief, Peppermint oil helps to alleviate the problems associated with jet lag, seasickness, and motion sickness.
Viruses According to laboratory studies, Peppermint oil has anti-viral properties against herpes simplex, as well as other viruses.”1.
APPLICATION/ SKINCARE OF PEPPERMINT ~ Cooling, analgesic, for nausea, sore throat, and travel sickness. Cooling, nerve pain, purulent eczema, muscular pain, poor circulation, somewhat anesthetic and disinfectant.
DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION of Peppermint ~ Be careful using Peppermint oil in your diffuser. A little bit can last a very long time in the room. It can also be harmful to pets and small children. I advise you not to use this particular oil in a diffuser but only in an individually held inhaler. Peppermint oil can make you feel cool but can also aggravate coughing.
I once made a number of essential oil blends for a bank in Fremont, CA. The one they chose had a small amount of Peppermint oil in it. Using this blend for 15 minutes/hour was loved by the bank customers but caused the bank staff to become irritated with the sweet, cool odor and start coughing.
EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USE of Peppermint oil and herb ~ Use the herb or essential oil by inhalation for emotional uses such as, as a stimulant, nerve tonic, for headache, lighten fatigue, for apathy, shock, faintness, and to apply on the abdomen for travel sickness.
BLENDS & PERFUMERY of Peppermint ~ Peppermint has such a strong menthol scent that it is not very much used in perfumery. However, it is often used in blending for muscle aches and pains, headaches, and more. (see above)
Peppermint oil blends best with Cypress, Eucalyptus, Rose Geranium, Lemon, Marjoram, Pine and other conifers, Rosemary, and other herbaceous oils.
Blending with formula – Jeanne Rose Formula #30 – Sinus and Headache Inhaler – In a small phial put equal amounts of Lavender Oil, Marjoram Oil, Peppermint Oil, and Rosemary Oil, say 10 drops of each and 5 drops of Clove Oil. Carry with you when traveling, as seems especially effective against a ‘smog’ headache. ! Inhale it whenever necessary. Or place a few pieces of rock salt in a vial and add the oils. The salt will quickly adsorb the oils. Inhale as needed.
INTERESTING PEPPERMINT FACTS ~ “According to Greek mythology the genus Mentha takes its name from the nymph Menthe who was seduced by Pluto and turned into a plant by his jealous wife, who trod Mentha into the ground. Pluto, however, turned her into an herb, knowing Menthe would then be appreciated by people for years to come.” —Kitchen Cosmetics.
Cultivation of the plant began in the USA in 1855 in Indiana, New York, and Ohio.
HYDROSOL ~ I truly enjoy the hydrosol of Peppermint. I cannot grow enough to distill for myself, but I have been fortunate to have many bottles given to me over the years to use. It is perfect in the bath to cool the system; it can be used as a digestive when taken a teaspoon full at a time, or in a glass of water for nausea, and it is excellent as a facial spray during menopause or to help heal an acne outbreak.
PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.
CULINARY USES OF PEPPERMINT ~ Besides using as a flavorant in candies, cakes, and ice cream, Peppermint is used in gum.
Chewing gum ~ Of all the flavors incorporated into chewing gum, mint flavors have been some of the most popular. Most widely used have been Peppermint and Spearmint as well as blends of the two. Typically, Peppermint and Spearmint flavors are added to chewing gum in the form of essential oils. Peppermint oil is derived by distillation of the aerial parts of the perennial herb Mentha x piperita L. Oil of Cornmint, derived from Mentha arvensis L. var piperescens, can also be blended with Peppermint oil. Oil of Spearmint is derived from the distillation of several species and varieties of the genus Mentha, principal species and varieties are Mentha spicata L. and Mentha verticillata, and Mentha cardiaca. —part of a patent application filed in 1989 and 2020-03-28 Application status is Expired –
KEY USE ~ The oil of digestion
JEANNE ROSE’S PEPPERMINT TOMATO TALES
I don’t remember exactly when this happened, probably around 1985. I was driving north on Highway 1, on the curvy, narrow, treacherous part of the road that is high above the ocean, north of Muir Beach, driving in and out of the light fog, and was feeling rather tired. So, I reached into my purse to get my First Aid Kit and the bottle of Peppermint oil. Apparently, the cap had loosened and come off the bottle and when I lifted it to my nose to inhale a bit of the odor, it splashed into my eyes. Now I was blinded and smelling of Peppermint oil as it also had splashed on my clothing. I could sort of see and knew I had to get off the road as it was dangerous to drive in this condition. Fortunately, the road to Stinson Beach appeared and I turned left and drove down into the parking lot of the café on the left. I pulled up and ran in, red in the face, reeking of Peppermint oil, and said to the first person, “please get me some oil or mayonnaise”. The poor woman grabbed at a bottle of Olive oil which I then liberally splashed in my eyes, waving my handkerchief around, and wiping my face. By this time, I was getting better and looked around and could see that the entire café was looking at me. I gave an embarrassed grin, dropped some money into the woman’s hand for the oil, and got back into my car to finish cleaning myself up.
The moral to the story is if you get any essential oil in your eyes, do not try to wash it off with water as volatile oils and water do not mix; remember to use the olive oil (or mayonnaise) to dilute and remove the excess and then water to clean off the residue.
ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS of Peppermint Oil
Color – Clear
Clarity – Clear
Viscosity – Non-viscous
Taste – Cool, herbal, umami
Intensity of Odor – 4
Tenacity of Odor – 6
Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment – This is a powerful oil with an intense odor that has a good tenacity in a blend. It has the coolness of menthol and a green and herbaceous sustaining note. Once you smell a well-distilled product you won’t forget it. Some Peppermint, especially those grown in other countries has a powerful candy cane smell.
PEPPERMINT CHEMISTRY & PROPERTIES
CHEMICAL COMPONENTS OF PEPPERMINT ~ The chemical composition of the essential oil from peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.) was analyzed by GC/FID and GC-MS. The main constituents were menthol (40.7%) and menthone (23.4%). Further components were (±)-menthyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, beta-pinene, and beta-caryophyllene.
“The main component of peppermint oil is (-)-menthol, about 50% followed by (-)-menthone about 20% and (-)-menthyl acetate about 10%. A characteristic of peppermint oil is the high content of (+)-menthofurane about 3%, and sometimes much higher; and a number of sesquiterpenes, one of them viridifloral.” –http://www.bojensen.net
Abstract/Scientific Data: Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. By Imai H,Osawa K,Yasuda H,Hamashima H,Arai T,Sasatsu M….. The effects of the essential oils of peppermint (Mentha piperita L.), spearmint Mentha spicata L.) and Japanese menthol mint (Mentha arvensis L.), of four major constituents of the essential oil of peppermint, and of three major constituents of the essential oil of spearmint, on the proliferation of Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) were examined. The essential oils and the various constituents inhibited the proliferation of each strain in liquid culture in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, they exhibited bactericidal activity in phosphate-buffered saline. The antibacterial activities varied among the bacterial species tested but were almost the same against antibiotic-resistant and antibiotic-sensitive strains of Helicobacter pylori and S. aureus. Thus, the essential oils and their constituents may be useful as potential antibacterial agents for the inhibition of the growth of pathogens.
RESOURCES ~ Most companies carry Peppermint oil and Peppermint herb. I have found my favorite scent of Peppermint at Prima Fleur Botanicals. It comes from the NW part of the United States.
- I found this chart in my files. I do not know where it came from. Let me know if you know the name of the original author.
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. San Francisco, California:
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992•
This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.
Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014
DISCLAIMER: This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor. The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©