Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Herbs & Oils: Peppermint

Peppermint & Hades:  

The Greek Connection

One of the many myths surrounding this aromatic herb tells the story of the questionably charming Hades seducing a lovely young nymph named Menthe.  His wife, Persephone (who only actually lived with Hades throughout the fall and winter months, spending the spring and summer months with her Earth Goddess mama, Demeter), understandably was not amused, and turned poor Menthe into a plant that people would constantly walk on.  Well, this ticked Hades off, and he embued Menthe with a lovely fragrance so that whenever peppermint was crushed, the wonderful aroma would remind people of just how beautiful and wonderful Menthe was, before she became a herb.  One can only wonder what Persephone's next move was.
(image by Wioletta Szczepanska)

The Herbal Lowdown

In any case, the lovely peppermint/Menthe has a long and varied history.  The ancient Egyptians used it at least as far back as 1,000 BC and the Romans grew peppermint in their gardens for decorative, digestive, and aromatic purposes.

Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint, and is now grown widely through the world.  Most people think of peppermint when they think of mint - it's a fragrance that evokes memories of holidays and celebration and it is very popular in Middle Eastern culinary recipes. 

According to Mountain Rose Herbs, it is one of the most popular herbs used in teas, candies and chewing gums.  Its refreshing, energizing and stimulating properties are used for a variety of medicinal applications, and in aromatherapy, peppermint is used to increase alertness and stamina.  It has been considered by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.  That last bit said, because of its other properties, it's not usually the aroma of choice to lull one into sleep, after the lovin'.  It's more of a morning wake-me-up fragrance. 

It should be noted that as with all medicines, peppermint oil should be used with discretion.  It can be over-stimulating to sensitive skin and should not be used during pregnancy

Note:  This information is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to prescribe, treat, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition. 


  1. When I think of peppermint, I always remember how my mother used to give me a hard peppermint candy whenever I said that my stomach "felt funny." Always worked! As a soaper, I like using peppermint tea as part of my liquid makeup of the recipe - combined with lavender and such. Always nice!

  2. What a great idea, Lisa, using peppermint tea as your liquid!