Fresh peppermint leaves, dried peppermint, and peppermint tea are wonderful help for PMS cramps and digestive issues. Discover some of the research behind Peppermint benefits here.
Common Name: Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
Indigenous to Europe and the Middle East – leaves, oil
I use fresh leaves from peppermint plants, powdered herb (usually dried from my own leaves), and peppermint tea for their antispasmotic effects. They help with muscle cramps, stomach discomfort, and PMS symptoms. It usually only takes 3-4 fresh leaves, plus I may add a couple of fresh rosemary leaves on the first day of my period to relieve cramps!
Note: Rosmarinic acid is the main antioxidant in rosemary, another wonderful, high antioxidant herb!
Fatigue: this herb helps my chronic fatigue, and even gives a little boost to my concentration levels. It’s really beneficial for PMS-related fatigue.
Digestive problems: the smooth muscle relaxant qualities of mint help stomach pain and cramps associated with IBS.
Between 50-225 ml peppermint oil depending on ailment. Personally, I like whole leaf sources instead of oils, and really enjoy peppermint tea. I start taking it 3-5 days before my period starts until about 3-5 days after it stops (or at least 3-4 days in, after the cramping stops on it’s own).
If I don’t have any tea on hand, I either pick about 3-4 leaves to eat fresh, or I brew a tea from hot water and a handful of fresh leaves. I personally prefer this method for my tea, but store-bought tea bags are just so easy on days you’re not feeling well!
Peppermint Benefits For Horses and Pets:
I give my horse about one handful of fresh leaves on occasion, though I have given mint leaves daily for about a 6 month period with amazing results for both muscle and gut relaxation. This herb is also part of my colic mix when my horses get an upset tummy.
It is one of the best digestive aids available and helps soothe and relax the digestive tract. The volatile oil it contains is a specific for ulcers. The flavonoids it contains will stimulate the liver… is antibacterial and antiparasitic… Peppermint oil (3 or 4 drops) can also be sprinkled onto hay or bran in a nosebag and used as an inhalant to help relieve upper respiratory problems and catarrh… 2
As always, take care when adding herbal supplements to an animal’s ration – they can’t always tell us when something doesn’t agree with them! If you’d like to learn more about my horse with Polysaccharide Muscle Myopathy, or PSSM, see my Jax’s Story site.
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Other Common Uses:
- Antioxidants (contains rosemarinic acid and is related to Rosemary)
- Antibacterial and viral healing properties
- Digestive problems
- Respiratory problems
- Blood cleansing and toner
- Promotes relaxation
- Smooth-muscle relaxant
- Nervine for migraine headaches, anxiety, and tension
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease
- Morning sickness
- Help for PMS cramps (peppermint tea benefits this issue the most for me)
- Pain remedy for headaches
Peppermint plants are perennial in Zones 3-11. Plant in fertile, moist soil in light full sun to part shade. Space approximately 18″-24″ apart. Plants can grow 12″-36″ and will spread vigorously! If you don’t want it to take over, grow in pots or raised beds.
You can also grow this herb in pots under lights. Since it is a prolific grower, it will eventually outgrow your pots but can be pruned down to maintain an ideal size. I grew plants in pots for years, but eventually moved them outside (where they’re taking over one corner of my garden) and, due to it’s high tolerance of different temperatures, still have fresh leaves about 9 months out of the year in Zone 6 (SW Missouri).
The safety of using peppermint leaf for longer than 8 weeks is unknown. Can cause some side effects including heartburn, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting. May reduce milk flow and should not be given in any form to babies (irritating to mucous membranes). Personal note: I’ve begun taking chelated calcium daily for muscle spasms, and GABA agonist herbs like peppermint can cause anxiety when taken with chelated calcium for periods longer than a few days. That said, I take chelated calcium and several GABA agonist herbs, including peppermint, with no issues. My horse, however, now does better with chelated calcium daily and herbs only on rare occasions.
May interact with Cyclosporine, antacids, H2 blockers, and Proton Pump Inhibitors. Peppermint oil and leaf might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications, which can increase the effects and side effects of some medications – be sure to talk with your doctor about medications that could be affected by ingestion of peppermint.
Where To Purchase:
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I grow peppermint from seed, and usually keep a small pot of it in the house for winter use (though in more temperate regions it can stay green and usable for most of the year!). Be careful as it WILL take over any herb bed you place it in if you plant it in your garden! Mine is now in a large bed by itself in full sun, in a spot that if it roots over out of bounds I can simply mow it back. I get most of my herbal seeds from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Research Articles and Sources:
- A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.).
- A Modern Horse Herbal by Hilary Page Self – available at Mountain Rose Herbs
More research articles about Peppermint:
- Evaluation of mint efficacy regarding dysmenorrhea in comparison with mefenamic acid: A double blinded randomized crossover study – While the bleeding amount did not significantly change, pain and its severity and all the clinical signs and symptoms decreased after taking peppermint extract. Because the side effect of herbal drugs is lower than other medicinal drugs, using mint is advised for treating dysmenorrhea symptoms.
- Quantity and chemical composition of essential oil of peppermint (Mentha × piperita L.) leaves under different drying methods