From the April 2000 Idaho Observer:

Back to the Basics

By Dr. Carol Geck

PEPPERMINT: Mentha piperita

In my on going research for natural health and healing of our bodies, I have come across many research papers and books spouting the great attributes of peppermint, both the herb and its essential oil.

I found in my research that the ancient Greeks may have crowned their heroes with wreathes of laurel, but they heavily relied on peppermint for curing their aliments. One of the oldest of all medicinal herbs, peppermint was used for everything from hiccups to “sea serpent” stings. The Greeks were not alone in recognizing this aromatic plant's many virtues.

In medieval times, many people depended on its aroma to rid their houses of vermin and noxious odors. To help combat mice and ants, put a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball and place it in an area frequented by them. Peppermint oil is also known to have antiseptic qualities. Fill a small spray bottle with water and a few drops of oil. This can be used to clean counter tops and other areas for sanitation. This also leaves a great aroma.

Peppermint herb and its essential oil have long been a favorite in many varying applications, including candies, liquors, medicines, ointments, toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, face and body soaps, beauty creams, and digestive mints. Peppermint is known as one of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs for soothing digestion.

John Lust's book, “The Herb Book” states, “The properties and uses of peppermint tea or peppermint oil have been found to be antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, refrigerant, stomachic, and a tonic. Peppermint tea or oil can be taken for nervousness, insomnia, cramps, coughs, migraine, poor digestion, heartburn, nausea, abdominal pains, and various problems such as headache and vomiting due to nervous causes. Peppermint tea also makes a good substitute for coffee or tea. In large quantities, peppermint leaves are said to be aphrodisiac. Externally, the leaves make a cooling and slighty anodyne (pain relieving) application. They can also be made into a bath additive for itching skin conditions.”

Many scientists have also researched peppermint oil's role in affecting impaired taste and smell when inhaled. Dr. Jean Valnet, a medical doctor who practiced in Paris, has studied the effect of peppermint oil on the liver and respiratory systems. This oil may also help arthritis, depression, skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis), food poisoning, hives, morning sickness, nerve regeneration, toothaches, and even tuberculosis.

One of my testimonies in using peppermint oil happened when my Dad, who suffered with congestive heart failure, had contracted a virus which invaded his respiratory system causing a fever and, of course, more heart problems. I thought it best to rush him to the hospital. As we sat waiting for professional help, I discovered my bottle of peppermint oil in my handbag. He was in pain and his breathing was labored.

As I opened my precious bottle and held it under his nose, he began coming around.

Like a good daughter, I then applied a few drops to his chest and then around his heart. His facial expression changed from fear to a more comfortable relaxed looked. In fact, he felt so much better, he told me not to apply the oil anymore, because he felt 90 percent better and he wanted to make sure the doctor could see how sick he was. By the time the doctor walked in, a mere 60 minutes later, Dad's heart rate had improved, he was breathing better and even joking.

Of course the aroma of peppermint had filled the room and half way down the hallway. His doctor was quite surprised to see the improvement; he even asked about the “smell,”and why I had used it on him. Being a “loud mouthed natural healer” and very much into using every natural modality to help the body, I seized the opportunity and told him the wonderful attributes of peppermint oil; but he seemed to shrug off the information.

“Too bad,” I thought.

As I gathered more information on the virtues of peppermint and its oil, I found that it is a cardiotonic, expectorant, anodyne, decongestant, antibacterial, and anti-fungal; is anti-inflammatory for the intestinal and urinary tract, it supports digestion, expels worms, is anti-carcinogenic, and helps stimulate the gallbladder.

In attending many seminars on natural healing, there have been numerous times when I could hardly keep my mind focused on the speaker. That is, until I discovered using one drop of peppermint oil on my temples and forehead. Talk about improving your concentration, mental clarity and memory; peppermint oil has been a Godsend for me.

No more falling asleep in class or forgetting what I had just learned.

Many people have asked me about headaches, of course, there can be many reasons for the headache, but for my immediate temporary relief, peppermint oil has to be one of my favorites, along with a nice cup of soothing hot peppermint tea. As I am a great believer in drinking more water than coffee or sodas; in the summer time, you will always find a gallon of water to which I have added 1 drop of peppermint oil in my refrigerator. This is a refreshing wonderful cooling drink. I also do this with the peppermint herb as well.

The most important bit of information here to remember is: To only use pure unadulterated Therapeutic-Grade A oil or organic grown peppermint herb. Some peppermint herb and/or essential oils can contain residues of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, or synthetic extractors, and extenders. Some of these synthetic-based chemicals -- especially petroleum based chemicals -- can penetrate and remain in the skin and fatty tissues for days or even weeks. Be safe, always use the pure stuff.

Essential oils may react with such chemicals and cause skin irritation, nausea, headaches or other uncomfortable effects. In other words, essential oils can react with a build up of toxins in the body from the chemicals found in food, water and work environment. If you experience a reaction to pure unadulterated Therapeutic, Grade A essentials oils, it may be wise to temporarily discontinue their use until you can consult your natural health care professional.

If you would like more information on pure unadulterated Therapeutic Grade A Peppermint oil, you can call (208) 255-2307 for more information.

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils and would like to attend an Essential Oil Workshop to be held April 29, 2000, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at Senior Hospitality Center, 6635 Lincoln, Bonners Ferry, ID. Please call (208) 255-2307 to reserve your seat.

Carol Geck currently operates Heal-Thy Self Consulting in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. She is a board-certified Naturopath and a certified IIRA Iridologist, she is also trained in Live Blood Cell analysis and Aromatherapy. You can reach Carol for a personal consultation by calling (208) 267-6606.

Disclaimer: Consult your health care professional about any serious disease or injury. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe any natural substances such as essential oils for serious health conditions that require professional attention.

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