Peppermint Essential Oil in Chinese Medicine
Common Name: Peppermint
Botanical Name: Mentha × piperita
Pin Yin Name: Bòhé
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Peppermint is a popular herb used in teas and as a flavoring for many products. Peppermint is best known for its ability to calm an upset stomach in children and to abate nausea. It is also useful for other digestive issues such as car sickness, indigestion (especially when combined with fennel seed), and as an appetite stimulant for children with poor appetites. Peppermint is ideal for children who have vomiting spells.
Peppermint essential oil is ideal for helping to dispel colds and flu's as it has a diaphoretic action (it stimulates perspiration). In Chinese medicine, a cold is considered and external pathogen that must be pushed to the surface and then pushed out of the body. Diaphoretic herbs open the pores and release external pathogens. Because peppermint promotes sweating, it is helpful in reducing fevers associated with influenza.
The essential oils of this plant give peppermint the stimulating aroma that heightens the senses and clears the sinuses. Essential oils tend to be highly anti-microbial, antifungal, analgesic and peppermint has strong antibiotic qualities. Additionally, peppermint essential oil is seen as anti-fungal that can be combined with tea tree oil for topical application of ring worm. Peppermint is a topical analgesic for pain and cramps and has antispasmodic qualities.
Properties: Pungent, dry, cool (with secondary warming attribute)
Nature: Stimulating, clarifying, vibrant, vital, clarifying, attentive, energizing, regenerative, focusing, penetrating, quick-witted, buoyant, regenerative, refreshing
Imbalances Treated with Peppermint Essential Oil in Chinese Medicine
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each energetic organ system is assigned to one of the Five Elements. Each element has both physical and emotional symptoms that would indicate imbalances in one or more of the related organ systems Learn more about the Five Elements here!
Water Element Energetic Organ Systems: Kidney, Urinary Bladder
- Kidney stones
Wood Element Energetic Organ Systems: Liver, Gallbladder
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling emotionally stuck
- Liver Qi Stagnation
- Nervous agitation
- Poor vision
- PMS uterine cramping
- Hot flashes
Fire Element Energetic Organ Systems: Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, San Jiao
- Emotional shock
- Low blood pressure
Earth Element Energetic Organ Systems: Spleen, Stomach
Metal Element Energetic Organ Systems: Lung, Large Intestine
Plant description: A hardy invasive perennial, peppermint should be harvested before it flowers, or any time throughout the growing season as needed. Mint is easy to grow in a spot with partial shade. It can be invasive so should be planted where it can grow unabated. Peppermint grown from seed lacks the rich essential oils that makes it valuable in medicinal herbalism, so plants with robust aromas should be purchased for planting. Peppermint should never be boiled when preparing a medicinal tea, rather the leaves should be covered with water that has been taken off a boil for ten minutes. The tea or essential oil can be added to a child's bath water for an easy therapeutic treatment. Because it is such a pleasant tasting herb, it is easy to administer peppermint tea to children.
Part used: Leaves
Note: Top note that fades quickly without the addition of deeper fixative-type essential oils
Safety and Contraindications
- No known cumulative toxicity used topically
- Essential oils of peppermint must always be diluted in olive oil or other carrier oil to 5% before adding it to baths or applying it to skin; the essential oil of peppermint can easily burn the mucus membrane and skin of a child if used undiluted. Peppermint is not considered a tonic and is more appropriate for acute conditions that are treated within a matter of weeks rather than chronic conditions that take many months to treat. Peppermint is a bit too stimulating for babies, but children benefit from the gentle healing qualities of this herb through teas and baths.
- Recommendations for topical use only
- Pregnant or nursing women and children-infants should only use essential oils under the guidance of their local practitioner
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