Ingredient Spotlight: The Power of Peppermint
We all know the familiar taste and aroma of peppermint. Your first experience with it may have come in the form of toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, candy canes or even peppermint patties. Yet, aside from its refreshing properties, this versatile plant also has a multitude of beneficial, healing actions for both the body and mind, making it a widely utilized herb in our Ayurvedic apothecary. You can find peppermint in a range of our products, including our Mint Pulling Oil, Hair Oil, Kapha Body Oil, Nose Oil, Anti-itch Remedy, Pitta Spritzer, Kapha Cleanser & Mask, Aromatic Neti Salt and Cool & Calm Blend Tea. Peppermint's ability to support all areas of the body and applications of self-care, makes it seem almost limitless. In this blog, we will share the history of peppermint and its most common Ayurvedic actions and usage.
A Brief History
Also known as Mentha piperita, peppermint is a perennial and a natural hybrid of spearmint and watermint that has been used since at least 1500 BC in culinary preparations and herbal remedies. Believed to have originated in Northern Africa or the Mediterranean, peppermint was revered in Egyptian culture and has even been found in tombs. It has also been documented that peppermint was used by the Romans in cooking and decoration, enjoyed in South East Asian cuisine and also utilized in traditional Asian medicine like Ayurveda.
Peppermint & Ayurveda
Ayurveda, South Asia's 5,000-year-old medical system, understands that peppermint brings balance to all 3 doshas- vata, pitta and kapha, yet it brings the greatest balance to fiery pitta and stagnant kapha. According to Ayurveda, the qualities of peppermint are subtle, light, dry and clear.
For vata, peppermint can be used as a carminative to prevent and dispel uncomfortable gas associated with excess vata dosha. Its calming aroma can relieve an overworked nervous system that is common when vata dosha goes into overdrive, causing feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, fatigue and even headaches. Additionally, peppermint can help ease abdominal pains and cramps connected with imbalanced vata.
Peppermint is considered a cooling dipana (digestive herb) in Ayurveda that gently kindles agni (digestive fire). This kind of plant ally is critical to balance pitta type digestion that can often experience excess heat in the form of hyperacidity, indigestion, loose stools and/or a voracious appetite. Peppermint soothes the stomach muscles and improves the flow of bile which aids in healthy digestion, assimilation and absorption of nutrients, including fat. Similar to vata dosha, pitta dosha also experiences relief from gas thanks to peppermint's carminative action.
Interestingly, peppermint is also considered a diaphoretic in herbal medicine, meaning it can induce sweat. Sweating is beneficial for pitta dosha as it is a natural way to release excess heat that can be trapped in the body and/or mind. In short, peppermint has a cleansing and ultimately cooling effect when used as a diaphoretic.
For the skin, peppermint powder delivers antimicrobial properties making it an effective Facial Cleanser for pitta type skin prone to blemishes and/or acne. Even more, peppermint brings a soothing, cooling quality to the skin, making it effective in expediting the healing of rashes and the itchiness associated with poison oak, ivy and sumac.
A pitta type mind can be consumed with excess heat, manifesting as anger and criticism when pitta goes out of balance. Peppermint can be used in aromatherapy to help counteract these pitta type emotions, restoring equanimity and harmony.
When kapha dosha goes into excess in the body, one can experience congestion, especially in the stomach, lungs and emotions. If this occurs, calling upon the power of peppermint is a wise choice since one of peppermint's main chemical compounds is menthol. Menthol is an excellent decongestant that can clear stagnation. This is why we chose to utilize peppermint in both our Nose Oil and Aromatic Neti Salt.
Kapha type skin and hair can also experience congestion; thus, utilizing peppermint in a Facial Cleanser, Body Oil and/or Hair Oil can help to draw out impurities. Further, peppermint is also considered a circulatory stimulant which is also key in supporting the body's detoxification process.
Thanks to its light, dry, expansive qualities, peppermint can also help uplift heavy emotions associated with kapha dosha. When paired with warming oils like grapefruit and sage, peppermint makes a welcome addition to kapha balancing aromatherapy.
For all doshas, peppermint offers a numbing and cooling effect which can be helpful in soothing toothaches and muscle pain. Also, peppermint is widely utilized in oral care products for its powerful ability to fight off oral pathogens and common bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease.
It's Mint to Be!
The power of peppermint can not be overstated. Its healing actions have been used in Ayurvedic herbalism throughout the centuries to address digestive, skin, oral, respiratory, nervous system and mental/emotional balance, for good reason. We honor peppermint for its intuitive healing and all of the gifts it shares with humanity, and we hope you will consider this blog post a sign that more peppermint is mint to be in your near future. This spring (kapha season) and upcoming summer (pitta season) are excellent times to utilize the beneficial properties of peppermint and connect with its energy in a new way.
Try the Powers of Peppermint in these Products
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