Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Peppermint is the result of a bit of indiscretion between Spearmint and Watermint. Oops. It is a little odd and can have variable chromosome numbers, but what the heck. It makes a drop dead chocolate mint candy, pie, or cake. Of the mints, this one is aggressive. Still, it needs a moist shady spot and I will be lucky to keep it alive in the high desert.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

I do need to keep it alive though, because chocolate mint.  I must get my cocoa in the Market Economy, it cannot be helped, but Peppermint is a wild take over kind of plant that is easy to grow.   Purchase once or get a gift and be knee deep in Peppermint forever.  Even as an invasive fast grower, it is still not so bad, because it is one of the most versatile herbs out there.

Peppermint is an easy steam distillation project to get started on essential oils, and its active constituent list is long, but the highest volume is 40% menthol and 23% menthone.  Essential oils take up so little space, you can distill all the delicious flavor for cooking and medicinal uses to a bottle.

Even as I love gentler Spearmint, sometimes its just gotta be powerful Peppermint.  An infusion is an effective remedy for irritable bowel syndrome.  Gastrointestinal problems are helped and respiratory issues too.

I had congestion and breathing issues as long as I can remember, and used Peppermint and capsaicin over long periods to alleviate congestion.  They are both very effective.  At one point my doctor suggested surgery, which I declined.  Later I had acupuncture in Dallas and the problem disappeared in a few minutes and didn’t come back for years.  After I moved to Seattle, the congestion flared up again, and I had acupuncture again.  Six good years so far.  Fascinated me, because I didn’t believe in it at the time.  It would be good to study acupuncture as well, but I did order a book on Reflexology, the precursor to acupuncture that uses the same pressure points.  When life settles a little, as I always say.

Peppermint oil can be added to creams and used for muscle and nerve pain, including Fibromyalgia relief.

There is conflicting material on liver issues whether it can hurt or help, but the positive shows protection from heavy metals.  Possibly because as a variable hybrid, there is more inconsistency in active principles in Peppermint.  I will check for updates.

Peppermint is pretty strong and I would be cautious about using it on small children.  For sure not for pregnant ladies.

Peppermint is antibacterial and antiseptic, can be used to clean household surfaces without creating supergerms, and is making its way back into hospitals.  An adjunct to that is that it also repels ticks, ants, spiders, snakes, cockroaches, mosquitoes, mice, and lice.  Used as an antiseptic/antibacterial cleaner it repels these disease vectors as well as killing bacteria.  In a situation like the influenza epidemic of WWI, or any other pandemic that population density brings us, I just want a gallon of Peppermint Essential Oil to repel those little critters that often spread disease between people.  My disease vectors are not as rampant in dry New Mexico, but when I lived in Dallas most of my Peppermint was used as repellant.  Like Spearmint, it can be pulled, dried, and strewn in your garden beds around your house.  Like Spearmint, you can carry it in a spritzer.  Do not use it too lavishly.

A third effect might be the aromatherapy effect of appetite suppression and weight loss.  Essential oils dissipate, so not likely… but Peppermint does smell better than Pinesol even though they have some of the same chemical constitutents.  I suppose I could switch out with my Pinyon Pine oil… but that Pinyon-Juniper aromatherapy is 24/7 in my food forest.

Bees love Peppermint in bloom.

Peppermint is shown to reduce pain and nausea during radiation treatments for cancer, enough to reduce the number of missed appountments.

There are many uses for Peppermint oil, alone or in conjunction with other oils.  Think respiratory, antibacterial, pesticide, repelling disease vectors, muscles, perfumes, and so on.  I do wish for a nice moist spot for it, and by the end of summer I should have a downspout installed on the shed.  It will collect water right next to my north facing sunken garden, and I am already plotting a damp spot for Peppermint.  Not likely to naturalize here, much too dry.

Until then, powerful Peppermint stays in a well watered pot.



About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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4 Responses to Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

  1. Helen says:

    How many types of mint are there?

  2. Helen,
    Maybe 18 species of mint. Plus some natural hybrid like Peppermint. It tends to hybridized easily but the hybrids do not breed true and have to be cloned. Chocolate Mint is another hybrid. The number of hybrids change, so maybe a dozen of them. I would take a local mint if I had one, they have square stems. I found one at a river in Texas once but have forgotten what it was.
    The mints are part of the Lamiaceae family which includes a lot of herbals with powerful properties, like Rosemary, Salvia. Chia is a Salvia. Just like the Rosaceae family has many of our favorite fruits in temperate climates.

  3. danallosso says:

    As it happens, I’m writing a History PhD dissertation about the peppermint oil industry in America. Some images on my Pinterest page at

    • Dan,
      I highly recommend your website. I appreciate the blog Anthropogenic Forest vs. Environmentalists? Not really.
      As you can tell, I am creating a Pinyon-Juniper food forest that is mananaged and therefore anthropogenic. Much better than clear cutting.
      Thank you for your contribution.

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