Peppermint Leaf and Seeds
Organic (Mentha piperita)

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Benefits In Herbalism



        Peppermint is a natural remedy used in herbalism to stimulate digestion and calm the stomach. Herbalists use it to relax intestinal muscles, reduce cramping, provide relief for respiratory difficulties, nausea and heartburn. Peppermint is also thought to improve bile production and discourages growth of harmful bacteria in stomach. This may make it beneficial for people suffering with ulcers. Without this botanical species there wouldn't be many of the over-the-counter medications that people value today. In my experiences it's a great addition to home made pesticides for plants.


It has become a popular addition to virtually every home garden across the globe. There are many varieties of it with different aromas and taste from peppermint, to spearmint, apple mint, pennyroyal, lemon, and even ginger. In preparing many savory dishes, Spearmint is commonly used because it's less likely to overpower the dish than other strains, especially peppermint. It synergizes well with Mullein and Echinacea in my experience. You can also mix it with Licorice for a great infusion!


Peppermint has a very high menthol content, that gives it a brisk icey flavor. This makes it suitable for desserts, candy, and even chocolate. Pennyroyal is edible but most popularly used as a natural insecticide. All of its species produce the same fascinating organic compounds using the suns energy, water, and c02. This is the same menthol used in cigarettes and over the counter products like Listerine, and Vicks Vapo rub. You can read the ingredients on the back and see it listed in all sorts of stuff. It's what causes that tingly minty anesthetic sensation. I love the stuff! I back up everything I say here with scholarly citations listed at the bottom of the page.


I use Peppermint and other varieties in home made teas and infusions when I'm sick. I like to soak a wash clothe in the tea, and place it on my forehead. I do this while it's still warm but obviously not too hot. It makes my head feel really good. If I could, I'd take a shower in the tea. I bet that would be awesome. Again, there are many different strains of the stuff, all of which have their own unique taste. They're all the same but different. I find Chocolate Mint to be the most interesting. I like buying Mint Chococolate that's made with this particular variety of mint! It's hard to find but AMAZING!

Cultivation


      Rather than starting from seeds, cuttings are recommended as a quick and effective method for cultivating this species. Take a cutting from a healthy growing stalk. Remove several of the bottom layers of leaves by pulling them straight down the stalk so that the outer layer of skin is partially removed with the leaf. After you place the cuttings in the proper organic soil/compost, be sure to and mist them at least twice a day if need be ( don't let them get too dry during this phase of their reproduction ). Do this for a week or two and a root structure will begin to develop. This is commonly referred to as cloning, propagating, or taking cuttings.

Topping To Encourage Extra Growth


When taking cuttings, topping, or even harvesting, it's important to make sure everything is clean, sterile, and free of bacteria and fungi. Cleanliness matters in all areas, including where the cuttings take place, and the area where they will be taken to reproduce. Remember you don't want too much moisture or the soil to stay wet too long or you could run into problems in the way of mould or mildew.


Topping is basically harvesting yourself a few leaves the proper way without harming the plant. All you do is clip the stem straight across horizontally to collect and harvest the leaves above it. This helps the plant produce more leaves in the long run. Topping plants makes them bushy, and produce more leaves and flowers. This helps you get a bigger harvest in the long run, and you'll get to sample the harvest along the way. It's a "Win win" situation for you and your plants.


Soil: Well drained
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Plant Type: Perennial
Hardiness: Zones 5-9



Let me quickly explain something about Peppermint and other strains of mint ( including Spearmint, Chocolate mint, etc. ) Full sun shouldn't necessarily be taken literally. If you live in the Southern United States, or further south than that, you may want to put them in a location that gets full sun for a limited time during the day. Where I live, if you plant anything in full sun it will die 98% of the time. I like to plant things around other natural plants so that there is a good amount of partial shade most of the time. The younger your plants are the easier the sun can kill them. Cuttings should be started near a window seal. This applies to more plants than just Mint.


Harvesting and Preservation Of Mint


Harvest by clipping from the bottom, leaving a couple inches of the herb still above the ground to grow. Dry by hanging in bunches upside down in a cool dry, airy place. It's best to always use some of your fresh material. Fresh plant material, especially Peppermint, contains the most and easiest amount of essential oils that you can easily capture. Water and oil don't mix, so you can add them to a mason jar with water and the oils will float to the top! Remember the basic rules from topping your plants also applies to harvesting. Everything must be clean, sanitized and free from any germs that could lead to mildew or mold and ruin your crop. When the stalk of your harvest snaps at a 45 degree angle it should be dry.


The harvest should dry in 2 to 5 days. Remember not to leave them hanging to long, because they will loose flavor after they become dry. This is where curing comes in. Put your mint in glass jars and open it once every day , or two for an hour or so. Keep doing this and the aroma will become stronger and stronger as the process is repeated over time.

Parts used: Leaves

Culinary Companions: Cilantro, Fruit, Lemon verbena, Oregano, Rosemary.

Natural remedies used in herbalism such as this one can also be used as organic pesticides and even fungicides. This is because many of the chemicals produced by the plants actually work as a natural defense mechanisms.



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