Excerpt from Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women
Peppermint is a natural hybrid of the two mints, garden spearmint and water mint. Both peppermint and spearmint are used in herbal healing and have similar effects, but peppermint is somewhat tastier and more potent. Especially because it is a digestive, peppermint tea is enjoyed at the end of a meal, diffusing like alcohol and warming the entire body.
The medicinal component of peppermint is a volatile oil. There are more than forty compounds in the oil; menthol, flavonoids, tocopherols, carotenes, and choline are just some of the substances that contribute to its therapeutic effect.
Peppermint has been used traditionally to cleanse and strengthen the entire system, including the nerves. A bath containing peppermint oil is said to be calming. Peppermint also has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscle. Calcium in muscle cells causes the muscles to contract. Peppermint blocks this influx, which might explain why peppermint has relaxant properties. Peppermint is a suitable treatment for upset stomach and intestinal spasm. As a stomach sedative, it also helps relieve gas.
In a study appearing in Phytomedicine, thirty patients (twelve female and eighteen male) received the herbal drug Lomatol, containing peppermint leaves, while sixteen males and fourteen females received metoclopramide hydrochloride drops. Each patient was instructed to take twenty-five drops of the preparation in water twenty minutes before each meal, three times a day for two weeks. By the seventh day, gastrospasms were eliminated in nearly 90 percent of the patients using Lomatol, compared with only 50 percent of the patients on the hydrochloride compound.
Suggested Dosage: Peppermint is commonly taken as a tea, prepared with 1 to 2 tsp. of the dried leaves per one cup of water. Be sure to use the organic dried leaves that are available in bulk or organic leaves prepackaged in tea bags.
Peppermint oil and menthol, when applied topically, can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive persons. Pregnant women are advised to use peppermint only in diluted, beverage-tea concentrations, not potent medicinal infusions. Moreover, the use of peppermint during pregnancy is discouraged for women with a history of miscarriage.
For more information about herbs with relaxant and anti-spasmodic effects see Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women available on Amazon, Amazon Kindle and Womens Wellness Publishing.