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.
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.