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Peppermint

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) is also known as M. balsamea Willd.This is a hybrid mint, a cross between the watermint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Peppermint was first described in 1753 by Carolus Linnaeus from specimens that had been collected in England; he treated it as a species, but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid.The plant, indigenous to Europe, is now widespread in cultivation throughout all regions of the world. It is found wild occasionally with its parent species.
Structure of Peppermint:
It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 30–90 cm (12–35 in) tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots. The leaves are from 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 1.5–4 cm (0.59–1.6 in) cm broad, dark green with reddish veins, and with an acute apex and coarsely toothed margins. The leaves and stems are usually slightly hairy. The flowers are purple, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) long, with a four-lobed corolla about 5 mm (0.20 in) diameter; they are produced in whorls (verticillasters) around the stem, forming thick, blunt spikes. Flowering is from the mid to late summer. The chromosome number is variable, with 2n counts of 66, 72, 84, and 120 recorded.
Habitat:
Peppermint typically occurs in moist habitats, including stream sides and drainage ditches. Being a hybrid, it is usually sterile, producing no seeds and reproducing only vegetatively, spreading by its rhizomes. If placed, it can grow anywhere, with a few exceptions. It is an invasive species in the Great Lakes region, noted since 1843. Outside of its native range, areas where peppermint was formerly grown for oil often have an abundance of feral plants, and it is considered invasive in Australia, the Galápagos Islands, New Zealand, and in the United States. In addition to peppermint and spearmint, other plants in the Mentha genus include apple mint, orange mint, water mint, curly mint and Corsican mint.
 Uses of Peppermint:
Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago. Peppermint has high menthol content, and is often used as tea and for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste. The oil also contains menthone and menthyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate. Dried peppermint typically has 0.3-0.4% of volatile oil containing menthol (29-48%), menthone (20-31%), menthyl acetate (3-10%), menthofuran (1-7%) and many trace consituents including limonene, pulegone, eucalyptol, and pinene. It is the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured confectionery. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos and soaps, which give the hair a minty scent and produce a cooling sensation on the skin.
It is a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, and calcium, vitamin B2 (based on its few calories and high nutrient density). This high nutrient density and low calorie status qualified peppermint as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B2, potassium and copper. Used in this way, it has been known to help with insomnia. Some more common uses of peppermint nowadays are:
1. It is a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea.
2. It is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid in digestion.
3. It has a calming and numbing effects, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence.
4. It is also used to treat symptoms of the common cold.
5. A number of studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.
6. Peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. However, if your symptoms of indigestion are related to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, peppermint should not be used.
7. A number of studies have shown that enteric-coated peppermint capsules can help treat symptoms of IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
8. Peppermint, has a soothing and cooling effect on skin irritations caused by hives, poison ivy, or poison oak. Some studies show that peppermint oil applied to the skin having no irritation can cause a rash.
9. Peppermint and its main active agent, menthol, are effective decongestants.It is soothing and calming for sore throats (pharyngitis) and dry coughs as well.
10. In animal studies, this phytonutrient has been shown to stop the growth of pancreatic, mammary, and liver tumors. These animal-based studies have yet to be matched by equally sound human studies, however.
11. Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly menthone.
12. Peppermint has muscle relaxant properties and therefore may relax the lower oesophageal sphincter.
Peppermint Tea:
A tea made from blending peppermint and spearmint leaves is referred to as double-mint tea. It is naturally caffeine-free. Peppermint tea is an infusion of peppermint, Mentha piperita. It is sometimes called mint tea. Some believe peppermint tea has healing effects because of the menthol that it contains. It is said to ease such problems as irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and baby colic. Its minty flavor can take the edge off bad breath. It is also said to control mild asthma, manage stress and ward off the common cold. In some countries, peppermint tea preparations list these proposed effects on their labels.
How to preserve Peppermint:
Dried Pepper mint leaves can be preserved in a jar. It is easy to use in making tea. Take two or three leaves and boil them in one cup of water. The leaves will get fresh. You will enjoy its sweet fragrance and taste. You can add salt or sugar according to your taste. Dried leaves powder is also very effective. It is used for seasoning food like rice, yogurt, drinks etc.
Few Facts to remember about Peppermint:
Large doses of peppermint oil can be toxic. Pure menthol is poisonous and should never be taken internally. It is important not to confuse oil and tincture preparations. Never apply peppermint oil to the face of an infant or small child, as it may cause spasms that inhibit breathing. Apart from all these facts our food ranking system showed that peppermint delivers a wide range of traditional nutrients.

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