Peppermint – The Balancing Herb
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita; Lamiaceae) is a perennial herb found throughout the world. Various mints have been cultivated since ancient times in China and Japan. Its medicinal use was noted in the Chinese medical literature of the Tang Pen Tsao period (c. 659 CE). There is also a legend that the Japanese priest Enzan brought peppermint to Asia in about 200 CE. In Egypt, there is evidence of a type of peppermint found in tombs that dates back to 300 BCE. Dioscorides mentioned that mint was an ingredient of the Egyptian perfume and incense, "Kyphi," which had many variations of recipes as well as uses, including ushering in the night at the temple of Ra, the Egyptian sun god. According to Greek myth, mint was named after Mintha, who Persephone, jealous of Mintha's love affair with Pluto, ground into the earth where an herb arose that bears her name. Greeks believed it could increase one's passion, and peppermint can stimulate the metabolism and strengthen the nerves. During the Middle Ages, mint was used as a strewing herb and as posies for the "smelle rejoiceth the heart of man" and "being smelled into, it is comfortable for the head and memory."
Native American use has included as an aid in bowel eliminations, and for tonification, colds, and fever control. The herb has been used extensively in both Eastern and Western medicine for numerous ailments including indigestion, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea, headaches and migraines, toothaches, and muscle cramps. It has also been used for heart palpitations, nervous disorders, and to aid in concentration. The herb increases oxygen supply to the blood, thereby cleansing the blood and resulting in strengthening the body systems. It also has been reputed to be an aphrodisiac, as an aid to frigidity.
As a digestive aid, it relaxes the lower sphincter muscles of the esophagus, eases gas, bloating, and burping after a heavy meal. Peppermint stimulates the flow of stomach digestive fluid and strengthens and tones the stomach. Peppermint has been used extensively for irritable bowel system. A crossover study (See HC 091261-457) has shown that peppermint may be useful in the treatment of infantile colic.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, peppermint contains a significant amount of ether, which soothes, cools, clarifies, and expands. The herb's actions on the body are mild and sattvic (balancing). By its ethereal nature, the tensions and congestions (blocks), both mental and physical, can find relief.