Peppermint is a prolific plant, often spreading beyond its intended borders. In Pliny's writings, he mentions that the Greeks and Romans decorated their feasting tables with sprigs of peppermint, and in fact flavored many of their foods with it. Dioscorides, the Greek physician, notes that it had medicinal properties, when its oil was extracted and used to treat spasms and disorders of the digestive system. Peppermint may have been cultivated by the ancient Egyptians as well. It appears in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias around 1240 C.E., and eventually was accepted for use in western Europe around the mid-1700s.
During the Middle Ages, monks -- who were known for their herbal wisdom -- used peppermint leaves to polish their teeth. Around the same time, cheesemakers figured out that mint leaves sprinkled around cheese piles would keep the rats out of the storeroom.
Peppermint is a natural stimulant, and in Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss says it should be in every garden. He says Peppermint is "an excellent remedy for chills, colic, fevers, dysentery, cholera heart trouble, palpitation of the heart, influenza, la grippe and hysteria." It also works nicely as a toning astringent, and peppermint applied to the skin provides a nice refreshing feeling (try a peppermint foot bath at the end of a long day at work!).
Peppermint, like other members of the mint family, is found often in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Use it to season lamb, curry, couscous, or your favorite vegetables.
Magically speaking, peppermint is often used in healing and purification workings. It can be burned or rubbed against objects to clear them of negative energies, or consumed as an elixir or tea to bring about healing. Pliny also noted that peppermint "excites the emotion of love"; add it to love workings to bring passion your way.
Other Names: Lammint, Brandy mint
Planetary Connection: Mercury
Deity Connection: Pluto
You can make a tasty peppermint tea in the same way people make sun tea: Gather up about two cups of fresh peppermint leaves, and place them in a gallon of water. Allow the tea to steep outside in the sun until fully blended. Add a bit of stevia to sweeten it for drinking, or use the mint tea as a refreshing cleanser in the bath.
Need a quick pick-me-up sweet treat? Try some Divine Yule Peppermint Fudge!