A native of Great Britain, peppermint is grown over most of the U.S. Commercially, it is grown in large acreages for the oil which is extracted and used in medicines, perfumes, confections, cold drinks, sauces, and flavoring in many foods of which lamb sauce and jelly is probably the most popular. Benedictine and Creme de Menthe are probably the most popular after-dinner cordials.
There are two varieties of peppermint: The black and the white. It is claimed that the white produces the best oil.
We occasionally find peppermint growing wild. However, in order to maintain its best flavor, the plants should be transplanted every 3 or 4 years. For medical purposes, cut in dry weather just after the flowers appear.
The HERB, both fresh and dried, has a penetrating odor, somewhat resembling camphor. The taste is aromatic, warm, pungent, camphorous, bitterish, and attended with a sensation of coolness when air is admitted into the mouth. These properties depend on a volatile oil which abounds in the herb. Its virtues are imparted to water and more readily to alcohol.
It is soothing to the stomach, allays nausea, relieves spasmodic pains of the stomach and bowels, expels flatus, and is used to cover the taste or qualify the nauseating or griping effects of other medicines. It is useful in colic, dizziness, colds, fever, measles, convulsions, and similar infantile troubles and is especially useful in the cholera of children.
In menstrual obstruction, when hysterical and highly nervous, combine with wood betony in equal parts. Make an infusion and take warm, about a wine glassful every 3 hours.
The following is considered the most reliable treatment of flu, influenza, and fevers of inflammations. Pour VA pints of boiling water on 1 oz. each peppermint leaves and elder flowers. Cover and keep warm 15 min. Strain, keep covered, and take 1/2 to 1 C. every 30 to 45 min. until perspiration starts. Then take 2 T. every hour or 2. The important thing is to take it warm and to continue until you perspire freely. You have then broken down congestions and equalized the circulation and you have assisted nature to restore an equilibrium. Stay in bed overnight and in the morning have someone, if possible, sponge the whole body down with equal parts of cider vinegar and warm water. Sponge carefully so as not to catch cold; do one part of the body at a time, keeping the rest of the body covered. This will act as a skin tonic and remove any waste matter.
This can be safely given to children, using smaller dosage and sweetened with honey or a little sugar.
A few fresh leaves placed on the forehead sometimes helps to alleviate a nervous headache and neuralgia and chewing a few leaves often relieves a sick feeling in the stomach.
The OIL is more positive, stimulating and warming but is less relaxing and diffusive than the herb.
The oil of peppermint rubbed upon the surface (skin) will quickly relieve the burning pain of shingles.
An application of the essence of peppermint will relieve pruritis. The essence of oil of peppermint if taken in small doses, will increase the appetite and prevent fermentation.
Peppermint is a wholesome and refreshing tea for young and old and has been enjoyed for generations. It is still a very popular dinner tea in Germany at the present time.
The fresh herb, bruised and applied over the stomach, often allays sick stomach and is especially useful in the cholera of children.
Peppermint may be given in infusion, but the volatile oil alone, or in some state of preparation, is almost always preferred.
NEVER boil peppermint and always keep the infusion covered, as it is very volatile.