Peppermint Cultivation and Health Benefits
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a very popular herb for its characteristic hot, minty flavor. It is used in cooking for its exotic flavor, and peppermint extracts have found their way to toothpastes, teas, and balms.
The uses of peppermint are wide and varied, and they rely mainly on the numbing and calming effect of peppermint. Peppermint offers sweet relief from headaches, nausea, skin irritations, flatulence, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and many other health problems.
Peppermint extracts have also been shown to have some antibacterial and anti-fungal properties in the laboratory.
When topically applied, it can soothe pains, skin irritations and relieve cough symptoms. In the stomach, peppermint relaxes the stomach muscles, and also helps to boost the flow of bile from the liver. This helps speed up the digestion process, and relieves flatulence and gas problems.
Cultivation of Peppermint
Peppermint is a hardy perennial plant that is very easy to grow. It is so easy to grow, in fact, that it is very invasive, and will soon take over a garden unless proper precaution is taken.
So be careful with the cultivation of this herb. Some people also like to have a bedding of peppermint on their yard or garden in place of grass and you can consider this unique option too.
- Choose a well tilled flower bed that drains well. Fertilization is not particularly required, but can be used for quick growth.
- It is best to grow peppermint in full sunlight, but it grows in partial sunlight too.
- You can either start off your cultivation with cuttings or seeds. With seeds, sprinkle on the soil and sprinkle some soil on top. It is not necessary to be particularly caring, as peppermint can well take care of itself.
- Harvest leaves when fully grown.
Tips on Growing Peppermint
You might have a lot of trouble keeping this persistent herb’s population in control. Try to pluck off any excess growing outside your garden bed as soon as possible.
Menthol and menthyl acetate, the substances that give peppermint its characteristic flavor, are mostly found on older, more mature leaves. So for cooking purposes, only use fully grown leaves.
It might be a good idea to grow peppermint in pots indoors.
They thrive well in indoor conditions – just give them a patch of sunlight. This ensures that your garden is not overrun with peppermint.
Peppermint has been known to deter insects, and you can even use a peppermint spray to ward off insects from other plants. So not much attention is needed for pests, except caterpillars – which grow into very beautiful butterflies.
Medicinal Uses of Peppermint
Peppermint is, of course, a very popular kitchen herb. Surprisingly, however, it has also found a great deal of use in medical applications.
Peppermint has a calming, gentle flavor that makes very soothing teas to relieve stress. It also has a great deal of powerful health enhancing capabilities, including anti-inflammatory properties, improving digestion, and improving the quality and flow of bile, and many more.
The leaves of the peppermint tea are generally used.
Cures stress and mental fatigue – Sipping on a gently flavored, healthy peppermint tea is great way to bust stress after a long day.
As a breath freshener – Peppermint freshens the breath by killing off smell inducing bacteria. Instead of using commercial peppermint toothpaste, you can just as easily enhance regular toothpaste with a few drops of essential peppermint oil.
Soothes the digestive tract – Peppermint contains menthol, which gives it its minty flavor. Menthol is great for the stomach lining, and can sooth stomach pain stemming from the lining of the stomach.
Induces healthy flow of bile – Menthol also causes good quality bile to be produced, and a healthy flow to be maintained. Bile is a substance important for the digestion of fat, so peppermint can really help when included with a fat rich meal.
Vitamin boost – Peppermint is rich in vitamins A and C, which are very important for the body.