For centuries, peppermint has been an excellent plant that began to be cultivated for its aromatic components. It also has other uses like medicine, where more and more people are looking for it. In search of new remedies for natural ailments, peppermint is experiencing a second youth and is gaining in popularity every day. It is a hybrid that comes from the crossing of mint and spearmint.
In this article, we will talk about what peppermint is, its culinary and medicinal uses, and how easy it is to breed.
What is Peppermint?
Peppermint is a hybrid between spearmint and mint that began to be cultivated artificially in the 17th century in England. Due to its aromatic components has many culinary uses, but if anything has gained popularity in recent years, it’s for its medicinal properties. In search of increasingly natural and less chemical remedies, peppermint is an excellent alternative that helps with multiple ailments.
Currently it is also found quite easily in the temperate zones of both hemispheres. It is a perennial plant, with a very branched stem and which reaches a height of between 30 and 70 cm. It reproduces by vegetative propagation. from underground rhizomes. Its green leaves are between 4 and 9 cm long and 2 to 4 cm wide, they are petiolate, opposite and oval. The leaves and stems are usually downy.
Its flowering is close to summer with terminal inflorescences in spikes, with flowers arranged in whorls on the floral axis. Violet or pink in color, with a four-lobed and small corolla, up to 8 mm. The essential oil extracted from mint is mainly composed of menthol and piperithenol, among other alcohols.
How to cultivate it?
Reproduction of peppermint is very simple. Just keep in mind that it prefers moist, fertile and little sun exposure. Its reproduction can be done in several ways, from underground stolons, by dividing its rhizomes, or by cuttings. In the case of cuttings, everything that the mint has is useful, and it is better to leave a few leaves, even partially cut some of them. If the softer tip is used, reproduction may be faster and future roots grow from its stem.
When collecting it for gastronomic, cosmetic or medicinal purposes, tender leaves and flowering tops. They are harvested when the buds begin to open. A second harvest can be made in autumn for industrial use, in this case the plant is cut at ground level. The leaves and flowers are immediately separated from the stem to avoid losing the active ingredients.
Peppermint is an excellent infusion full of flavor, also as an aromatic herb. It is the most used perfume in the manufacture of sweets, chewing gum, ice cream and any preparation flavored with mint. It is also used to season salads, meats, soups, in English cuisine to make mint sauce or in Ibiza to make flaó. It is also used in a multitude of liqueurs due to its powerful aroma.
In order to take full advantage of its benefits, its leaves can be used both as an infusion and as a seasoning for culinary dishes.
Although peppermint is present in many foods, the curiosity to know more about this plant is today marked by its multiple medicinal uses. It should be added that having a small bottle at home is always good, in addition to being very economical and suitable for all budgets. The number of conditions it helps or corrects is not uncommon, and is usually effective for everyday ailments it happens to all of us.
The main uses that essential oils and flavonoids are antiflatulent, antiemetic, spasmolytic, antipruritic, choleretic, cholagogue and mucosal analgesic. Its topical application, that is to say directly on the skin, blocks the calcium channels and relaxes the muscles. In case of headaches, it is applied to the temples, considerably calming the pain.
Traditionally, it is also used as an infusion to soothe digestive or hepatic pain. Helps to have a good digestion. For severe colds, it can be applied directly to the chest, for steam inhalations. It can also be applied topically in the nostrils to soothe sinusitis. In case of cavities, it is also used to soothe dental pain when applied topically, and even to soothe insect bites or other skin irritations.
Warnings on the use of peppermint
Peppermint intolerance is quite common, and although most of the time it is not serious, it is necessary to pay attention to its symptoms so as not to have any inconvenience. The most frequent cases in case of suffering from it, the infusion and the mint oil can cause insomnia, irritability or bronchospasms. It should not be used in children under 2 years of age or during breastfeeding or pregnancy.
Chocolate mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Citrata’)