Peppermint grows worldwide but major producers are the USA, India and China. It's native to Southern Europe.
The essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the flowering herb and leaves.
Peppermint is a herbaceous perennial plant which grows up to 90cm tall. It has wide spreading fleshy and fibrous rhizomes which live on the surface. It produces light purple flowers. The plant is harvested at the flowering stage as this is when the greatest yield of essential oils is produced.
Analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, antipruritic, carminative, cephalic, cooling, digestive tonic, expectorant, febrifuge, stimulant, stomachic, vermifuge, uplifting and vasoconstrictive.
In aromatherapy Peppermint has several uses. Perhaps the most appreciated is in its use to treat the nervous system. When burned or vaporised it's an oil that may help to waken and freshen the mind, improve concentration, lessen mental fatigue, combat headaches and depression as well as calming anger or hysteria. It's also a decongestant which many people find very useful for unblocking sinuses and cold and flu symptoms as well as easing the symptoms of asthma and bronchial congestions.
When applied to the skin it's used as a cooling oil - you'll often find it in Fresh Feet blends for example. These blends make use of its deodorising effect and also may soothe aching feet. It's commonly used in cooling creams to calm rashes and hives and can also be found in blends aimed at reducing pain and fever.
Commercially peppermint is found in many consumables including toothpaste, cough and cold remedies, perfumes and household cleaning products.
Peppermint is a very popular oil for use in burners and vaporisers. It can overpower other oils so caution should be applied when used in blends for burning. When used in this way it’s commonly found in blends aimed at refreshing a room, clearing nasty odours, increasing concentration and stimulate the mind. It’s also used as an insect repellent and to clear headaches and feelings of nausea.
In skincare and massage Peppermint should be diluted to 5% or less in a carrier oil. It's a very refreshing and enlivening oil so best avoided during the evening or at bed time.
Organic version also available.
All essential oils generally blend well with one another. You may find that Peppermint blends particularly well with benzoin, eucalyptus, lavender, marjoram, lemon and rosemary.