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What Is Peppermint?

Peppermint leaves.
Peppermint is often added to chewing gum to help freshen breath.
Many toothpastes contain pappermint.
Peppermint is often used in mouthwash.
Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Created from the blending of Mentha aquatica (watermint) and Mentha spicata (spearmint), peppermint is a sterile hybrid plant that has been used for adding flavor and aroma to a number of foods and other items. In addition, it is also used for medicinal purposes, a tradition that dates back thousands of years. Here is some background on this plant, along with some of the more common uses of this versatile hybrid mint.

While peppermint has been found growing wild in some parts of Europe, England was the site of the first efforts to cross spearmint with watermint. Once the process proved successful, it was possible to propagate peppermint by rooting segments of a live plant. The result is that this plant is now found in many parts of the world, with the leaves being among the most desirable of herbal mints.

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This plant has a high menthol content, which makes it ideal for use in a variety of products. The appealing taste helps to make food items like ice cream, tea, chewing gum, and dinner mints more desirable. Chocolate covered mints often include peppermint oil, as does the traditional red and white hard candies that many people keep in the home. The oil also adds a welcome hint of taste to several types of liqueur. As flavoring for hygiene products, peppermint is a favorite ingredient in oral rinsing products such as mouthwash. Shampoos, soaps, and body washes often make good use of peppermint, since the mint leaves a pleasant scent and a cool sensation to the skin. Many varieties of toothpaste also rely on it to help leave a pleasant taste in the mouth.

As a health aid, peppermint has a long and distinguished history. Many persons will keep hard candy or tea handy during the cold and flu season, as it helps to soothe sore throats and relieve stuffy noses. Mentha or mint piperita is also considered to be an excellent natural remedy for upset stomachs. The oil of the plant is considered to be an excellent rub for tired or strained muscles. As part of aromatherapy, the scent is understood to help relieve stress and restore emotional balance.

There is no doubt that peppermint does contain several important vitamins and nutrients. It contains high concentrations of vitamins A and C, along with a significant amount of manganese. There are also trace amounts of potassium, copper, riboflavin, calcium, and iron as well. As a hybrid plant that can be used for a number of different applications, few substances can equal the options provided by peppermint.

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Discuss this Article

anon162043
Post 3

Peppermint increases blood flow to the brain therefore increasing the likely hood of retaining STM and converting it to LTM. It's also known as a highly potent antioxidant that prevents aging of the brain cells as well as improving the immune system and neutralizes oxidative substances.

anon119562
Post 2

its also a natural repellent, grows like a weed, and there are many different strains of mint, each with their own characteristics.

milagros
Post 1

Peppermint has a positive effect on the brain. In the presence of peppermint scent, people perform better when they have to focus on a specific task.

It seems that peppermint stimulates brain cells that help with mental clarity.

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