Peppermint is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. The plant, indigenous to Europe, is now widespread in cultivation throughout all regions of the world. It is found wild occasionally with its parent species.
Peppermint generally grows best in moist, shaded locations, and expands by underground stolons. Young shoots are taken from old stocks and dibbled into the ground about 1.5 feet apart. They grow quickly and cover the ground with runners if it is permanently moist. For the home gardener, it is often grown in containers to restrict rapid spreading. It grows best with a good supply of water, without being water-logged, and planted in areas with part-sun to shade.
The leaves and flowering tops are used; they are collected as soon as the flowers begin to open and can be dried. The wild form of the plant is less suitable for this purpose, with cultivated plants having been selected for more and better oil content. They may be allowed to lie and wilt a little before distillation, or they may be taken directly to the still.
Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago.
Mint herb is originally native to Europe, and now cultivated in all the regions of the world. It grows well under shady conditions and feature lance-shaped purple-veined, dark-green leaves with serrated margins and purple color whirly-flowers.
In general, the mint plant is usually sterile; producing no seeds and reproducing only vegetative reproduction, spreading lateral through its underground rhizomes. There exist more than 20 varieties of mint herbs with a wide range of color, fragrance, and flavor.
Mint contains numerous plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties. Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of fresh peppermint herb is 13978 µmol TE/100 g.
The mint herb contains no cholesterol; however, it is rich in essential oils, vitamins and dietary fiber, which helps to control blood cholesterol and blood pressure inside the human body.
The herb parts contain many essential volatile oils like menthol, menthone, menthol acetate. These compounds effect on cold-sensitive receptors in the skin, mouth and throat, the property which is responsible for the natural cooling-sensation that it initiates when inhaled, eaten, or applied on the skin.
The essential oil, menthol also has been analgesic (painkiller), local anesthetic and counter-irritant properties.
Research studies have also been suggested that the compounds in the peppermint relax intestinal wall and sphincter smooth muscles through blocking calcium channel at cell receptor levels. This property of mint has been applied as an anti-spasmodic agent in the treatment of "irritable bowel syndrome" (IBS) and other colic pain disorders.
Peppermint-herb is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium. 100 g fresh herb provides 569 mg of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper works as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide-dismutase.Further, it is rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin-C and vitamin E. The leaves of mint also contain many important B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6); and the herb is an excellent source of vitamin-K.
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