You don't have to spend loads of money on expensive herbs to get access to amazing plant magic. In fact some of the very best ingredients for herbal medicine and natural skincare can be wildcrafted or grown simply in your own backyard. One such herb is peppermint, which once planted grows in abundance almost anywhere!
Famous for its breath-freshening powers and its sweet taste, peppermint is also a wonderful medicinal herb, whose properties have been both recognised since ancient times and backed by modern science.
We love peppermint at Mama Bruja and use it extensively in both our healing balms and teas. Here are just a few of its properties:
Aids digestion and calms the belly
Research has shown peppermint to be a safe and effective treatment for both adults and children with a variety of stomach problems, such as nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, indigestion and colic.
For example, one study showed a 50% reduction irritable bowel syndrome symptoms among 75% of patients who tried it, while another study showed peppermint oil "greatly improves" symptoms of dyspepsia in 67% of patients. In fact its nausea calming properties are so strong that it has even been used effectively to reduce nausea induced by chemotherapy.
Peppermint is also known as an effective expectorant and decongestant, helping to clear nasal and respiratory tract congestion and relieve cold and flu symptoms. Its leaf extract has also been shown to relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms. We combine it with thyme, eucalyptus and rosemary in our Fresh Air Chest Rub (so much more delicious and natural than Vicks). But you can also prepare tea straight from the garden,
Relieves pain and improves mental clarity
Peppermint is often used for muscle pain, headaches and migraines and a German study from the highly respected University of Kiel, has now shown that peppermint oil (applied to the temple and forehead), can be an effective treatment for tension headaches. Similarly, several studies have shown it to improve memory and concentration.
How do you use it?
Peppermint is delicious in infusiones, aromatherapy and natural skincare. Some of my favourite ways to use it are:
Teas: A strong peppermint tea does wonders for the soul. You can prepare it alone or mix it with other herbs. For example, I like to blend it with chamomile to calm nausea, with gotu kola, lavender and lemon verbena to balance emotions or with thyme, chamomile, nettle and echinacea for coughs and colds.
Massage: When I feel stressed or sore, I love rubbing our Headspace Calm Balm on my temples and neck, or better yet I ask for a foot massage from my partner or children! It's also great to prevent and or ease allergies and sinusitis during the change of season! To relieve tension, pain and congestion, I like to massage my face with it for ten to fifteen minutes. It's quite a long time but totally worth it ti relive that excruciating pain!
Aromatherapy: For me, just the smell peppermint alone has many benefits. When I need an emotional boost or when I feel nauseous, I like to apply peppermint essential oil (diluted in a balm or carrier oil) to my temples, neck and wrists. It also helps me to focus and improves concentration! Another simple option is to lather yourself up with our rosemary and peppermint soap & shampoo bar in the shower! All that steam and essential oils provides an invigorating aromatherapy experience, great for a pick me up in the morning!
Please keep in mind that peppermint can be a very strong essential oil for children so it is important to dilute it sufficiently and not use it directly on their faces. In fact with children, it is always good to try any skincare first on their feet to see that they have no reaction before using it all over their bodies!