Peppermint or Mentha × piperita

Peppermint

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita, also known as Mentha. balsamea Willd.) is a hybrid mint: a cross between watermint and spearmint. Indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, the plant is now widespread in cultivation in many regions of the world. It is occasionally found in the wild with its parent species

Scientific classification:
Kingdom:     Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order:           Lamiales
Family:         Lamiaceae
Genus:          Mentha
Species: M. × piperita
Binomial name: Mentha × piperita

Botany:

Peppermint was first described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus from specimens that had been collected in England; he treated it as a species, but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid. It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant that grows to be 30–90 cm (12–35 in) tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots. The leaves can be 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 1.5–4 cm (0.59–1.57 in) broad. They are dark green with reddish veins, and they have an acute apex and coarsely toothed margins. The leaves and stems are usually slightly fuzzy. The flowers are purple, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) long, with a four-lobed corolla about 5 mm (0.20 in) diameter; they are produced in whorls (verticillasters) around the stem, forming thick, blunt spikes. Flowering season lasts from mid to late summer. The chromosome number is variable, with 2n counts of 66, 72, 84, and 120 recorded. Peppermint is a fast-growing plant; once it sprouts, it spreads very quickly.

Culinary and other uses:

Fresh or dried peppermint leaves are often used alone or with other herbs in herbal teas (tisanes, infusions).

Peppermint is used for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos, soaps and skin care products.

Menthol activates cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in the skin and mucosal tissues, and is the primary source of the cooling sensation that follows the topical application of peppermint oil

Oil:

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oil
Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly pulegone (Found mainly in Mentha arvensis var. piperascens Cornmint, Field Mint, Japanese Mint and to a lesser extent-6,530 ppm in Mentha x piperita subsp. nothosubsp. piperita) and menthone.

Medical uses:

Freeze-dried leaves
Peppermint oil is under preliminary research for its potential as a short-term treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and has been used in traditional medicine for a limited number of minor ailments that remain scientifically unconfirmed for effectiveness. Peppermint oil may also act as a carminative, cholagogue, antibacterial, and secretolytic, and it has a cooling action. Externally, peppermint oil has been used for muscle pain, nerve pain and relief from itching.

High doses of peppermint oil (500 mg) can cause mucosal irritation and mimic episodes of heartburn. Usage of peppermint is thought to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, thus causing acid reflux, but a study disproved this theory, making peppermint safe to use as a flavoring in antacid medication.

The aroma of peppermint has been studied for possible memory and alertness enhancing properties.

Other uses:

Peppermint oil is also used in construction and plumbing to test for the tightness of pipes and disclose leaks by its odor.