Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Aromatic Herb

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a highly scented perennial herb in the mint family (Lamiaceae). The term peppermint is frequently misused to refer to all types of mint. It is part of the Lamiaceae family, specifically the Nepetoideae subfamily, which contains sage, rosemary, and basil. Peppermint has a strong sweetish aroma and a warm pungent flavor with a cooling aftertaste. The leaves are traditionally used fresh as a culinary herb, while the blooms are dried and used to flavor candies, pastries, beverages, salads, and other meals. Its essential oil is also frequently used as a flavoring. The plant is a cross between watermint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) that is grown in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Peppermint grows in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9. It is able to withstand brief bursts of frost, but it cannot withstand prolonged periods of low temperatures.

Taxonomic Classification of Peppermint [Mentha piperita]

Taxonomic RankClassification
KingdomPlantae
PhylumMagnoliophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
SubclassAsteridae
OrderLamiales
FamilyLamiaceae
GenusMentha
SpeciesMentha piperita

Habitat and Distribution of Peppermint

  • Peppermint’s historical significance can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was recognized for its various uses and medicinal properties. Peppermint thrives in moist environments such as stream sides and drainage canals.
  • As a hybrid, it typically doesn’t produce seeds and spreads primarily through vegetative means like runners.
  • Its adaptable nature allows it to grow in diverse conditions, making it capable of thriving almost anywhere.
  • Outside its native range, peppermint often becomes feral, leading to invasiveness in regions like Australia, the Galápagos Islands, New Zealand, and the Great Lakes region of the United States.
  • Peppermint requires water and good drainage for growth and can tolerate various conditions, including partial shade or full sun in warm climates.
  • Mentha species, including peppermint, are grown worldwide, with natural growth in Europe and cultivation in nations such as Japan, England, France, Italy, the United States, Bulgaria, Russia, and India.

Anatomy and Morphology of Mentha piperita

  • Peppermint is a perennial herb that can grow up to 30-55 cm tall.
  • It grows like a spreading, non-compact shrub.
  • The plant’s rhizome is horizontal, with a poor root system that extends around 60-80 cm into the earth.
  • Peppermint stems are many, branching, and tetrahedron-shaped. They can have a range of colors.
  • The leaves are opposite, short-stemmed, and ovate-oblong or lanceolate in form. They are dark green with small hairs on the underside near the veins.
  • Flowers are small and nearly sterile, with a regular five-toothed calyx and a somewhat irregular red-purple corolla with a white tube.
  • Peppermint comes in two varieties: black and white. Black mint features dark reddish-purple stems, petioles, and leaf veins, whereas white mint has light green stems and leaves that lack reddish-purple coloring.
  • Peppermint stands apart from other mint kinds because of its thicker pubescence (hairiness), dark green leaves, and light green stems.

How to Care and Grow Peppermint Plant

  • Light Requirements: Peppermint grows in broad sun to partial shade, making it adaptable to different light levels. In contrast to many other herbs, it can withstand partial shade.
  • Soil preparation: Peppermint is quite adaptable to soil conditions, which can be both beneficial and harmful. Peppermint grows best in rich, loamy soil that is regularly moist. It can grow in a variety of habitats, including well-kept garden beds, trailside ditches, and rocky outcrops.
  • Watering Needs: Peppermint requires continually moist soil for optimal health and flavor.
    However, avoid overwatering because peppermint, like most mints, is prone to root rot in damp circumstances.
  • Temperature and humidity: Peppermint is hardy, withstanding minor frosts but struggling in sustained periods of cold typical of USDA Cold Hardiness Zones 5 and lower. The optimal temperature range for growth is 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fertilization: Unlike many plants, peppermint and other Mentha species do not require fertilization. Excessive fertilization can produce dense but less aromatic leaves and blossoms, lowering the herb’s flavor.
  • Pruning: Mints retain their lovely appearance with frequent trimming. Remove the blooms as they appear, as you would with basil and other flowering herbs grown for their leaves, and pinch back the stems to promote shorter, bushier growth. Cut the plants down after a heavy frost has withered the stems in the fall.

How to Propagate Peppermint Plant

  • Make a cutting: Using sharp garden shears, cut a five-inch section off the top growth of a strong, robust mint plant. Remove the lowest leaves off the stem, then trim the cutting slightly below the newest leaf nodes.
    Put the mint stem in a glass of water: Keep it on the kitchen counter or a sunny windowsill. Bright indirect light, as opposed to direct sunshine, will prevent the mint leaves from burning or drying out. After a few weeks, a solid root system should develop.
  • Plant the mint clipping. Take a small container with drainage holes and fill it with organic potting soil. Place the roots of your new mint plant in the soil and gently pat the earth around its base. Place your potted mind plant in a sunny location in your home. Alternatively, you can plant mint straight in your herb or garden bed.
  • Dip the mint roots in the rooting hormone: Though not required, the rooting hormone can assist your new mint plant make the journey from propagation to planting. Rooting hormone promotes new development in plants and can help them move to a new environment more successfully.
  • Remove new leaves after planting: Your plant most likely produced new leaves as it grew new roots. Remove a couple sets of leaves from the plant’s top to promote new, dense growth.
  • Prune the mint plants in your herb garden: Your new mint plant will thrive among other perennial herbs like basil, oregano, and rosemary; but, bear in mind that mint is a voracious grower and may push out slower-growing plants. To control the growth of your mint plant, prune it on a regular basis.

Potting and Repotting Peppermint

Peppermint, like any other plant, emits distress signals when pressed. Are there roots emerging from drainage holes? That’s what your plant perceives as a warning sign. If the soil dries out faster. it’s time to repot.

  • Pot size is crucial; too small a pot might limit root growth, and too large can cause waterlogging.
  • In order to give the roots enough room without drowning them, aim for a pot size increase of 1-2 inches in diameter.
  • Peppermint prefers well-drained soil to avoid wet conditions that might cause root rot.
    Add perlite or coarse sand to the soil mix to increase drainage and root health.
  • To avoid stress after repotting, gradually return your peppermint plant to its light source.
    Start with dim light and work your way up to its favorite sunny area over time.
  • Inspect the roots during repotting; healthy roots should be creamy or white.
    Trim any dark or mushy roots to improve root health and avoid disease transmission.
  • For optimum growth and strength, use fresh soil instead of recycling old dirt to give your plant new nutrients.
  • Cleaning the leaves while repotting removes dust and prevents the collection of pests such as dust mites, preserving your plant’s health.
  • Water your peppermint plant just enough to settle the dirt around the roots after repotting, but don’t overwater to avoid root rot.
  • Hold off on fertilizing for a few weeks after repotting to enable your plant to adjust to its new surroundings before adding nutrients.

Chemical Composition and Active Components of Peppermint

Active CompoundChemical ClassificationUses
LimoneneMonoterpeneFragrance, Aromatherapy
CineoleMonoterpene oxideRespiratory support, Aromatherapy
MenthoneMonoterpene ketoneFlavoring, Aromatherapy, Digestive Aid
MenthofuranFuraneFlavoring, Fragrance
IsomenthoneMonoterpene ketoneFlavoring, Aromatherapy
Menthyl acetateEsterFlavoring, Fragrance, Aromatherapy, Topical Relief
IsopulegolMonoterpene alcoholFragrance, Aromatherapy
MentholMonoterpene alcoholFlavoring, Aromatherapy, Topical Relief, Analgesic
PulegoneMonoterpene ketoneFlavoring, Fragrance, Insect repellent
CarvoneMonoterpene ketoneFlavoring, Aromatherapy

Benefits/Uses of Peppermint Plant

Health Benefits of Peppermint

  • Indigestion: Peppermint relaxes the stomach muscles and increases the flow of bile, which the body needs to break down fat. As a result, food moves through the stomach faster.
  • Flatulence/Bloating: Peppermint calms the muscles responsible for passing unpleasant intestinal gas.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS): Several studies have indicated that enteric-coated peppermint capsules can help alleviate IBS symptoms like pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (Enteric-coated capsules prevent peppermint oil from being released into the stomach, which can induce heartburn and indigestion.)
  • Headaches: Menthol is the active component found in peppermint. According to several studies, it can help relieve migraine headache pain. It may also help with other symptoms such as light sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. According to several studies, putting a peppermint oil solution to your forehead and temples can also help relieve tension headaches.
  • Relieve menstrual cramps: It does not appear to influence the volume of blood loss, but the menthol in peppermint can reduce the severity and duration of period pain in some people.
  • Kill Mouth Germs: Not only can the flavor of peppermint freshen your breath, but its antibacterial characteristics may also help eliminate the source of the odor: germs. It is thought to prevent bacteria from developing a film on your teeth, so keeping your pearly whites healthy.
  • Relax Tight Sinuses: The antibacterial properties of peppermint may aid in your defense against the common cold or the resulting infectious mucus that establishes itself in your sinuses. You may also feel as though you can breathe easier after taking menthol.
  • Comforting Seasonal Allergies: When allergy season arrives, peppermint might make you appreciate the outdoors even more. It contains rosmarinic acid, a substance that can lessen your body’s sensitivity to histamines. This could result in fewer symptoms such as red, itchy eyes, sneezing, and an irritated, stuffy nose.
  • Battle Bacteria Inhaled from Food: Researchers put peppermint oil to the test on salmonella, listeria, and E. coli germs. It can prevent all three from growing, they discovered. Moreover, it can eradicate Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia, skin infections
  • Boost energy: Peppermint oil may help you feel more awake throughout the day. Experts are unsure what happens in your body when you smell peppermint oil, but it may help alleviate tiredness during awake hours.

Skin Benefits of Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil, when combined with any skin care recipe, leaves your skin feeling refreshed, invigorated, and full of life.

  • Peppermint essential oil’s antimicrobial and antiseptic properties aid in reducing pimples and lesions such as papules, pustules, nodules, cysts, and active comedones.
  • Formulations containing peppermint essential oil are used to deliver a cooling sensation to the skin, reducing the effects of sunburn or prolonged sun exposure.
  • Consistently applying oils or serums packed with organic peppermint essential oil to the face and body increases blood circulation and skin tone.
  • Peppermint oil’s antibacterial powers keep skin and scalp free of congestion while also making them smell fresh and minty.
  • Peppermint oil in face masks and cleansers helps to control sebum production and distribution on oily, combination, and acne-prone skin.
  • Peppermint essential oil is used to reduce inflammation, irritation, and itchiness on the skin and scalp. It stimulates wound healing and is marketed as a natural cure for calming bug bites and alleviating pruritus, a common skin illness that causes rashes, hives, and itching.
  • Peppermint oil is a natural astringent. It tightens skin cells and enhances the appearance of pores. It also prevents pores from becoming clogged or congested.
  • Peppermint oil hydrates and improves the natural tone of your lips by increasing blood circulation to the lip area. It also adds plumpness to your lips and makes them appear larger.

Applications of Mint in Cooking

There is no denying the culinary charm of mint because it gives a variety of foods a taste and a hint of freshness. Among the frequently used applications of mint in cooking are:

Herbaceous Enhancements: Mint leaves, whole or chopped, are frequently added as a garnish to improve the flavor and appearance of both sweet and savory foods. For an additional taste boost, add some mint to yogurt, grilled meats, and fruit salads.

Refreshing Drinks: Mint leaves are a popular addition to drinks including herbal teas, mojitos, and mint juleps. The refreshing and cool flavor of the herb adds a nice variation to these cocktails.

Tea: Mint leaves are a common ingredient in aromatic, calming herbal teas. Mint tea is a soothing brew and a home cure for many diseases.

Garnish: Mint sprigs add visual appeal and flavor to main courses, desserts, and beverages. Mint leaves’ vivid green hue lends an attractive element to any presentation.

Flavoring: A variety of items, such as toothpaste, sweets, and chewing gum, use mint extracts and oils as flavorings. The flavor profile, which is chilly and minty, is energizing and refreshing.

Desserts with a mint flavor: Mint is a traditional flavor for desserts. Examples include mint chocolate chip ice cream, chocolates with a mint flavor, and cakes or cookies with a mint flavor.

Using Mint for Dental Care

Fresh Breath: Mint is a common ingredient in breath fresheners due to its capacity to cover up and balance offensive smells. It leaves the tongue with a lingering, cooling sensation.

Antibacterial Properties: The antibacterial chemicals found in mint can aid in preventing the formation of dangerous bacteria in the mouth, promoting better oral hygiene.

Toothpaste and Mouthwash: Among the most often used items in the oral hygiene sector are mouthwash and toothpaste with a mint flavor. The flavor of mint leaves the mouth feeling clean and revitalized while also adding to the enjoyment of brushing and rinsing.

Peppermint for Hair care

Since peppermint oil includes menthol, a vasodilator that helps to stimulate blood circulation to the scalp and nourish hair follicles, which is good for hair growth, peppermint oil is good for hair growth.

Address the problem of dry scalp: Your hair is moisturized by the moisturizing qualities of peppermint oil. In addition to its anti-inflammatory qualities, this oil soothes the dry, irritated scalp skin. A few drops of peppermint oil can be diluted with any carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil, and then gently applied to the scalp.

Help with treating head lice.: Peppermint oil works as a natural insect repellant. Menthol in Peppermint Oil gives it a pungent and refreshing odor, which helps to suffocate head lice. Using Peppermint Oil on your hair can help get rid of lice.

Strengthens the roots: Peppermint oil feeds your hair from within and strengthens its roots. This function of peppermint oil is related to the presence of pulegone and mentone, which serve to strengthen roots and so prevent hair loss. Massage Peppermint Oil into your scalp and hair using a carrier oil such as Coconut Oil. Wash off after one hour. With regular application, this procedure will undoubtedly assist in reducing hair loss and strengthen hair from root to tip.

Side Effects of Peppermint

  • When consumed orally, peppermint oil is most likely safe. Peppermint leaf may be safe to take for up to 8 weeks. It’s unclear whether peppermint leaf is safe to use for more than 8 weeks. Side effects of peppermint include heartburn, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Peppermint may interact with certain pharmaceuticals, such as cyclosporine, which is used by transplant recipients to prevent organ rejection, as well as medications that lower stomach acid and ulcers. Calcium channel blockers and other medications used for hypertension or high blood pressure are trusted sources.
  • People should not take it with antacids. This is because some peppermint supplements come in the form of capsules. If the patient is also taking an antacid, the coating may break down too quickly, increasing the risk of heartburn.
  • According to studies, taking this essential oil in exceptionally high doses might have serious side effects on the user, such as physical weakness, brain damage, and convulsions. If you are feeling nausea, difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, slowed heartbeat, dizziness, or convulsions, it could be due to the usage of peppermint oil. To avoid complications, get medical treatment as soon as possible.
  • Peppermint oil is similar to menthol. If you are allergic to menthol, you may get adverse symptoms such as skin irritation, nasal blisters, and mouth sores if you inhale peppermint oil. It could also cause throat discomfort. To avoid these negative effects, avoid taking medications that include peppermint oil. This is thought to be one of the most serious peppermint oil inhalation side effects.
  • When used at recommended dosages for steam inhalation and other applications, peppermint oil is safer for adult use. The subtleties of this oil, however, should be avoided around young children and babies. Research has demonstrated that they may be susceptible to potentially fatal illnesses including intrusive spasms that impair their ability to breathe.
  • The safety of this oil for usage by pregnant or nursing women has not yet been established by researchers. According to studies, there is a chance that using this oil in some situations during the first trimester of pregnancy could relax the uterus. Miscarriage could then follow from this. Thus, please take extra precautions if you have a history of miscarriages.

Pests/Diseases on Peppermint Plant

Pest/DiseaseDescription [Cause/Symptoms]Prevention
Mint RustSmall soft-bodied insects on the underside of leaves and/or stems; may cause leaves to yellow, distort, or develop necrotic spots; secrete honeydew encouraging sooty mold growthSmall, dusty, bright orange, yellow, or brown pustules on undersides of leaves; new shoots may be pale and distorted; large areas of leaf tissue die and leaves may drop from the plant
AphidsDeep plowing; use disease-free planting material; soil fumigation with ethyl bromidePrune infested leaves or shoots; check transplants before planting; use tolerant varieties; apply reflective mulches; spray plants with water; use insecticidal soaps or oils; apply insecticides for severe infestations
CutwormsSever stems of young transplants or seedlings at soil line; eat irregular holes in fruits; larvae are active at nightRemove plant residue from soil; use plastic or foil collars around plant stems; hand-pick larvae; apply diatomaceous earth; use insecticides if necessary
ThripsLeaves may be distorted; covered in coarse stippling and black feces; insect is small and slenderAvoid planting near onions, garlic, or cereals; use reflective mulches; apply appropriate insecticide if infestation is severe
Spider MitesLeaves stippled with yellow; may appear bronzed; webbing covering leaves; mites visible as tiny moving dotsSpray plants with water; apply insecticidal soap; avoid dusty conditions and water stress
Powdery MildewPowdery white patches on leaves and stems; severe cases can reduce oil yieldApply ground or wettable sulfur; spray with appropriate fungicides at 15-day intervals
Stolon and Root RotRotting of stolon, leading to yellowing, defoliation, and death of plantsAvoid excessive irrigation; treat stolon with Brassicol solution before planting; use disease-free planting material from non-infested soil
WiltDwarfing, unilateral branch development, wilting, and death of plantsMinimize disease by using disease-free planting material; avoid injuries from virus entrance; control vectors like insects and nematodes
Viral DiseasesMosaic, yellowing, leaf curling, crinkling, retarded growthMinimize disease by using disease-free planting material; avoid injuries for virus entrance; control vectors like insects and nematodes
Nematode DiseasesRoot-knot disease causing yield loss; other parasitic nematodes reported in the rhizosphereUse disease-resistant varieties; avoid planting infected suckers/roots; treat soil if infested with root-knot nematodes
AnthracnoseSmall sunken brown spots on lower leaves and stems, enlarging to oval lesions; may cause defoliation and cankersAvoid prolonged wetness on foliage; spray with appropriate fungicides
Black Stem RotDark brown or black cankers on stems; wilting and death of plant partsRemove and destroy infected plant debris; avoid wet conditions; use disease-free planting material
Stem and Stolon CankerBrown or black rotting areas on roots and stolon; reduced plant standRemove and destroy crop debris; ensure soil drainage and reduce humidity; maintain pH below 6.6
Septoria Leaf SpotDark brown/black angular leaf spots; spores visible within spotsRemove and destroy plant debris; maintain good air circulation; avoid overhead irrigation

Peppermint Products

  • Peppermint Oil: Help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive issues.
  • Peppermint Tea: Improves breathing, relieves tension headaches, and aids digestion.
  • Peppermint Chewing Gum: To refresh breath and provide a cooling sensation in the mouth.
  • Peppermint Lotion/Cream: To treat muscle stiffness, itching, and minor skin irritations.
  • Peppermint Herbal Supplements: These capsules or tablets are used to support digestive health, relieve indigestion, and alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Peppermint Shampoo/Conditioner: Promotes hair development, and provides a cooling sensation while washing and conditioning hair.
  • Peppermint Mouthwash: To freshen your breath, eliminate bacteria, and promote dental health.

Interesting and Cool Facts of Peppermint Plant

  • Archaeologists discovered mint that had been dried 3000 years ago in the Egyptian pyramids. They utilized it to extract oils. Perhaps the Egyptians welcomed essential oils. Historical records show that Romans used mint with special dishes for major feasts and even braided ceremonial headgear.
  • The Greek philosopher and botanist Theophrastus named the Mentha genus after a narrative from Green Mythology. According to legend, Pluto adored the nymph Menthe so much that Proserpine changed her into the plant we know as mint out of jealousy.
  • Breathing peppermint vapors stimulates the senses while also helping to decrease weariness and depression.
  • The term “mint” refers to the Mentha plant family, which includes spearmint, peppermint, orange mint, and other varieties.
  • Mexicans call mint Yerba bueno, or good herb.

References

  • https://gardenerspath.com/plants/herbs/grow-peppermint/#
  • https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/dangerous-side-effects-of-peppermint-oil/
  • https://www.anveya.com/blogs/top-tips/peppermint-oil-for-hair-benefits-uses-and-precautionary-tips
  • https://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/crop-production/integrated-pest-managment/ipm-for-vegetables/ipm-strategies-for-mint/mint-diseases
  • https://plantvillage.psu.edu/topics/mint/infos
  • https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-705/peppermint
  • https://www.britannica.com/plant/peppermint
  • https://www.purodem.com/peppermint-oil-the-benefits-of-minty-power/
  • https://kerncountyfamily.com/PublicArticle/3865/Fun-Facts-about-a-Holiday-Favorite–Peppermint
  • https://www.thespruce.com/peppermint-profile-5186867

About Author

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Jyoti Bashyal

Jyoti Bashyal, a graduate of the Central Department of Chemistry, is an avid explorer of the molecular realm. Fueled by her fascination with chemical reactions and natural compounds, she navigates her field's complexities with precision and passion. Outside the lab, Jyoti is dedicated to making science accessible to all. She aspires to deepen audiences' understanding of the wonders of various scientific subjects and their impact on the world by sharing them with a wide range of readers through her writing.

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