Fragrance of the Month – February 2021
It’s just a few days since Valentine’s Day and I was planning to tell you about one of our romantic fragranced soy wax candles, but as a chronic migraine sufferer, all I’ve been smelling this week is lavender and peppermint essential oils! It’s a good job I like them both so much. Peppermint is my go-to essential oil for all types of headaches, and it does seem to help, especially when used alongside a nice cup of peppermint tea. It’s also a very nice fresh and clean smell to have in the home, and has the additional advantage of deterring mosquitoes and other insects1.
Before I continue, though, I must remind readers that I am not a doctor and I am not here to give medical advice*. My intention here is simply tell you about peppermint oil, and my own experiences of using it.
Peppermint Essential Oil Comes From a Plant
Peppermint essential oil is made from the peppermint herb, a plant that grows in many climates and one which I’ve actually grown in my own garden. It grew well for a good few years, completely taking over one corner. Then last year it didn’t show at all from the ground, but a baby one sprung up in a tiny discarded pot of compost. As soon as I found the little treasure I potted it up into a small tub where it continued to grow happily throughout the summer. I only had a small harvest from it, and I used that to make what was possibly the world’s smallest smudge stick, long-since burned up. It’s a perennial, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be blessed with a larger plant this year. A word of caution, though: if any readers choose to grow their own peppermint, I recommend growing it in a pot because like it’s relative, garden mint, it can be quite invasive.
Peppermint, whose Latin name is Mentha Piperita, has a number of aliases including Mentha d’Angleterre, Mentha Anglais, Pfefferminze and Englisheminze. Despite this obvious association with England, it is actually native to the Mediterranean but now grows in countries throughout Europe, America, and Asia. It’s believed that the Romans brought it with them as they marched through Europe and into Britain, and from here it found its way to America with the settlers2. Like I said, it can be invasive! The bottles of peppermint oil that we sell in our gift shop are sourced ethically from India and processed here in England.
Peppermint Through the Ages
The name “Peppermint” appears to have been first used in Greek mythology. In the words of Jekka McVicar, author of “Jekka’s Complete Herb Book”, one of my favourite books about herbs, “There are two different stories, the first that the nymph Minthe was being chatted up by Hades, god of the Underworld. His queen Sephony became jealous and turned her into the plant, mint. The second that Minthe was a nymph beloved by Pluto, who transformed her into the scented herb after his jealous wife took umbridge.”3
Mint has been cultivated for its medicinal properties since ancient times and has been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 1,000BC. The Japanese have been growing it to obtain menthol for at least 2,000 years and in the Bible the Pharisees collected tithes in mint, dill and cumin. Charles the Great, who was King of the Franks from 786, King of the Lombards from 774, and Emperor of the Romans from 800, was known to be very keen on herbs, and liked mint so much he ordered people to grow it!4 The knowledge of the healing properties of peppermint was passed down through the generations and a newspaper clipping, found in the scrapbook of a Canadian pioneer, stated that he had learned that peppermint was used in China to treat facial neuralgia by applying the oil “to the seat of the pain with a camel’s hair pencil”5.
Peppermint, as a herb, is well-known for its ability to freshen the breath and prevent gum infections6 which is why many toothpastes and mouthwashes are flavoured with it. It’s also good for treating nausea and indigestion7, and you may have noticed this as the popular flavour of antacids. It should be noted, however, that the essential oils we sell are not for ingestion and should not be taken internally.
Uses for Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil burned in an oil burner or diffuser is refreshing and stimulating making it an excellent choice for fighting mental fatigue and depression. Peppermint is also believed to be good for ailments such as asthma, colic, fever, chest congestion and vertigo8, in addition to my own love of it for the relief of headaches and migraines. It’s also reputed to be effective in treating sunburn, itchiness, and inflamed skin9, but it should always be mixed with a base oil before using on the skin and a patch test should be carried out first to check for adverse reactions. My own preferred method of use it to place a couple of drops of the essential oil on my top , fairly close to my face. I only do this on old clothes and undergarments though, because oils can stain fabric.
I hope you can see why I’m blown away by peppermint. It’s such a simple little plant that spreads so far and fast it’s often treated as a weed, and yet has so many health benefits.
Take care of yourselves and each other,
*The “Small” Print (it’s important so I made it bigger)
Disclaimer – Please read: The information in this post, and elsewhere on this website, is intended to provide general information only and users are advised to seek further medical/cosmetic use guidance before acting or relying on the contents. We are not medically or otherwise qualified in the use of essential oils. We disclaim all liability for loss and/or damage that may result from the use of information contained within this article. Essential oils should not be ingested or used internally. We highly recommend that users perform a patch test before using them topically for the first time, and periodically thereafter as allergies can develop from the repeated use. Pure and absolute essential oils should be diluted in a base/carrier oil before being applied to the skin.
I’ve always loved learning about and growing useful plants so I really enjoyed writing this post and did a bit of reading for it. Below are the references to the books and websites I used when gathering the information to pass on to you.
1, 7, 8, and 9. Ancient Wisdom (extracted 24/05/2020). 2, 3, and 4. Jekka McVicar, “Jekka’s Complete Herb Book”, (Kyle Cathie Ltd., 1999). 6. Carol Bishop, “The Book of Home Remedies and Herbal Cures”, (Octopus Books Ltd., 1979). 7. Sarah Garland, The Herb Garden (Frances Lincoln, 1984)
Peppermint growing in a pot by User:Sunnysingh22 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33119890. Bottle of Peppermint Essential Oil by Ancient Wisdom. Drawing of mint plant and newspaper clipping: extracted from Carol Bishop, “The Book of Home Remedies and Herbal Cures”, (Octopus Books Ltd., 1979). Photo of oil burners is our own
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