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Peppermint

Peppermint


And pennyroyal and peppermint
Pour dry-hot odors without stint
From fields and banks of many streams;
And in their scent one almost seems
To see Demeter pass, her breath
Sweet with her triumph over death.---
A haze of floating saffron; sound
Of shy, crisp creepings o'er the ground;
Cawein, Madison Julius, 1865-1914: FOREST AND FIELD [1908]

Near the same region was a small nursery; for the mind which had grouped so many pleasures for the eye and the taste of man, had not put out of sight his infirmities, or forgotten where it was written, "in the garden was a sepulchre." There, arose the rough leafed sage, with its spiry efflorescence, the hoarhound foe of consumption, the aperient cumphrey, the aromatic tansy, and the bitter rue and wormwood. There, also, the healing balm was permitted to flourish, and the pungent peppermint for distillation. Large poppies, scattered here and there, perfected their latent anodyne, and hop-vines, clasping the accustomed arches, disclosed from their aromatic clusters some portion of their sedative powers. Through these scenes of odoriferous wildness Madam L --- often wandered, and like our first mother, amused herself by removing whatever marred its beauty, and cherishing all that heightened its excellence.
Sigourney, L. H. (Lydia Howard) Sketch of Connecticut, Forty Years Since (1824)

Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit one of the large mint growing belts of Uttar Pradesh, in the region around Badaun. Traveling from the Himalayas we entered the plains and journeyed on roads that were rough and dubiously maintained but the sites, sounds and smells of rural India delighted the eye, ear and nose . Though the body was jostled about the heart was filled with happiness in becoming absorbed in the visions of rural life styles that remain intact into the modern times. Toward evening we reached the outskirts of Badaun. A fresh coolness was on the air reviving one after the dust and heat of the the days journey. Along the road we were traveling one could see bullock cart after bullock cart ladened with freshly cut mint headed for one of the many local distilleries situated throughout the region. The delightful fresh sharp and penetrating aroma of peppermint filled the nostrils adding greatly to the beauty of this wonderful scene. The area where we journeyed was once not so prosperous as it is now. Farmers were barely making ends meet but due to the foresight of several entreprenuers the area was identified as a prime location for growing peppermint, cornmint, bergamot mint, spearmint, and several other aromatic crops. During our visit we met with one of the pioneers of the mint industry. In the beginning he traveled from village to village in a jeep with a megaphone inducing the farmers to plant mint. Local meetings were held, mint plants were provided and some of the farmers decided to give it a try. And in the years that followed many others took up the planting of this crop and through such modest beginnings the region rose to prominence as one of the main sources of quality mint in the world. Even though other countries like the USA have significant plantings of mint, with modern means of harvesting and distilling it, still India has been able to surpass USA production because of her strong agricultural community which depends to a large extent on people and animal power.
As we continued our journey through this quite pastoral scene, we saw many families ending their days mint harvest. With simple hand held sickles; men, women and children move through their carefully tended mint crops, quietly cutting and stacking the green herbage. No big combines here. Just quiet steady work of entire families caring for small land holdings of 1-10 acres. At the end of the day, they head for their modest homes to eat simple food often grown on their own land. It is a scene that we seldom see on such a large scale in our country. In India today, over 700,000, 000 people farm for a living and the beauty and power of that simple lifestyle must be seen to be appreciated.
On the next day our kind host in that region took us to see the place in the city where the distilling units were manufactured. It was amazing to see men pounding out large pieces of sheet metal in perfect cyclinders using hammers and other simple tools. Welding units were engaged in making the lids, connecting pipes for condensors,etc. The entire industry from growing of the crops to distilling of the herbage was being done on a local level. Very enterprising, ingeniuous and industrious. We made the rounds of several small distileries in the local area wher one could see banks of 4-8 distilling units being packed with peppermint that had been allowed to slightly dry for 4-8 hours. The mint was then packed into the units that looked to hold about 250 kilos of material. The fires that kept the steam generators growing utilized the spent mint which had been dried after distillation. The ashes in turn were spread on the fields as a simple fertilizer. So again one could see the healthy cycle of total utilization of raw materials taking place. The fields themselves were managed with a minimum amount of petrochemical fertilizers. Cow and goat manure and ashes formed a major part of their soil care program with stubble being tilled back into the ground. Herbicies were not used as the weeding, hoeing and irrigation were attended to by the extended families that managed their modest pieces
of land. Pesticides were also seldom used as most farmers followed a healthy system of crop rotation. Diversified farming is very much a part of the Indian system farming and even on small pieces of land one finds serveral grain, legume, fruit being grown. The aromatic crop addition has brought a nice additional income to these custodians of the land. Even though the visit to the mint growing region lasted but a couple of days, the freshness and beauty of that rural scene remains deeply engraved upon the heart.

Etymology of Mint
When Persephone found out that Pluto was in love with the beautiful nymph Minthe, jealousy burned within her and she changed Minthe into a lowly plant. Pluto couldn¹t undo Persephone¹s spell but he did soften it a little so that the more Minthe was tread upon the sweeter her smell would become. The name Minthe changed to mentha and became the genus name for mint. Few people now consider it a lowly plant, particularly those involved in the business of toothpaste and chewing gum and even those selling herb teas.
http://www.snatea.com/Briefs/Peppermint.htm

Description/Technical
Botanical Source.‹This herb is a perennial, with procumbent, ascending, branched, reddish stems, quite smooth, or fringed, with a few spreading hairs, furrowed and quadrangular, and 2 or 3 feet in height. The leaves are ovate-oblong, or somewhat lanceolate, rounded at the base, deep-green, smooth or hairy on the underside, serrate, and borne on ciliated petioles. The flowers are in whorls, small, and purplish; upper floral leaves small, lanceolate-subulate, shorter than the flowers. The whorls are few, lax, uppermost in a short, oblong, obtuse, reddish spike; lowermost
remote, with the cymes shortly stalked. Bracts subulate, outer ones as long as the calyx. Pedicels quite smooth. Calyx 5-toothed, teeth hispid,
subulate, erect. The corolla is 4-cleft, tubular, with the broadest segment emarginate. Stamens 4, awl-shaped, straight, and distant; anthers with 2
parallel cells. Achenia smooth (L.‹W.‹G.)
http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/eclectic/kings/mentha-pipe.html

Images-
http://www-ang.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/generic_frame.html?Ment_pip.html
superb images

History of Mint --- (Information is provided for cultural interest, not as a recommendation for treatment of disease)
History---Pliny tells us that the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with Peppermint at their feasts and adorned their tables with its sprays, and that their cooks flavoured both their sauces and their wines with its essence. Two species of mint were used by the ancient Greek physicians, but some writers doubt whether either was the modern Peppermint, though there is evidence that M. piperita was cultivated by the Egyptians. It is mentioned in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias of the thirteenth century, but only came into general use in the medicine of Western Europe about the middle of the eighteenth century, and then was first used in England.
It was only recognized here as a distinct species late in the seventeenth century, when the great botanist, Ray, published it in the second edition of his Synopsis stirpium britannicorum, 1696. Its medicinal properties were speedily recognized, and it was admitted into the London Pharmacopceia in 1721, under M. piperitis sapore. The oldest existing Peppermint district is in the neighbourhood of Mitcham, in Surrey, where its cultivation from a commercial point of view dates from about 1750, at which period only a few acres of ground there were devoted to medicinal plants. At the end of the eighteenth century, above 100 acres were cropped with Peppermint, but so late as 1805 there were no stills at Mitcham, and the herb had to be carried to London for the extraction of the oil. By 1850 there were already about 500 acres under cultivation at Mitcham, and at the present day the English Peppermint plantations are still chiefly located in this district, though it is grown in several other parts of England - in Herts at Hitchin, and in Cambs at Wisbech, in Lincolnshire at Market Deeping and also at Holbeach (where the cultivation and distillation of English Peppermint oil, now carried on with the most up-to-date improvements was commenced over seventy years ago). There is room for a further extension of its cultivation, owing to the great superiority of the English product in pungency and flavour. Most of London's supplies are grown in a triangle with its base on a line Kingston to Croydon, and its apex at Chipstead in Surrey. This triangle includes Mitcham, still the centre of the Peppermint-growing and distilling industry, the district proving to be specially suited to the crop. There are large Peppermint farms at Banstead and Cheam.
On the Continent Peppermint was first grown in 1771 at Utrecht, but it is now grown in considerable amounts in several countries. In France it is cultivated in the Departments of the Yonne and du Nord, French Peppermint Oil being distilled at Grasse and Cannes, as well as in the Basses-Alpes, Haute-Garonne and other parts, though the French varieties of M. piperita are not identical with those cultivated in England. The variety cultivated in France is known as 'Red Mint' and can grow on certain soils where the true Peppermint does not grow. The 'Red Mint' can be cultivated for four or
five years in the same field, but the true M. piperita can be cultivated in the same field for two years only. 'Red Mint' gives a higher yield of oil, but is of inferior quality. In the Siagne Valley, it is calculated that 300 kilos of fresh plant produce 1 kilo of essential oil, elsewhere a yield of 2 kilos to about 1,000 kilos of stems and green leaves is claimed. It has been proved by experience that all parts of the plant do not give the same proportion of oil, and it is more abundant when the plants have been grown in a hot region and have flowered to the best advantage. The product of absolutely genuine English plants cultivated in French soil varies according to the district, for the soil has a very important influence upon the flavour of the oil and also the climate: badly-drained ground is known to give unfavourable results both as to the quantity and quality of the oil.
An oil very similar to Mitcham oil, and of an excellent quality, is distilled from English plants grown in Italy, mostly in Piedmont and also in Sicily.
Next to the essential oils of lemon and orange, that obtained from Peppermint enjoys a high reputation among the numerous volatile oils produced by Italy. Vigone and Pancalieri are the centres of the cultivation and distillation of Peppermint in the province of Turin. This district, which has been designated the 'Mitcham of Italy,' yields annually about 11,000,000 kilograms of Peppermint, from which 25,000 to 27,000 kilograms of essential oil are obtained. A new variety of Peppermint, found at Lutra on the island of Tino, in the Grecian Archipelago, has been cultivated in the Royal Colonial Garden at Palermo. A small amount of Peppermint oil of good quality is distilled from plantations in Germany, at Miltitz, in Saxony and near Leipzig, where the little town of Colleda, before the War, produced annually as much as 40,000 cwt. of the herb. Russia also produces some Peppermint, in the Ukraine and the Caucasus, but most of it is used in the country itself. With regard to Hungarian oil of Peppermint, organized effort to secure improvement began in 1904 and has been greatly developed. Hungarian oil compares favourably with American oil of Peppermint as regards percentage of Menthol contained: Hungarian oil yielding 43 to 56 per cent of free menthol, and 35 to 65 per cent of total menthol; while American oil yields 40 to 45 per cent free menthol and 60 per cent total menthol. Peppermint oil distilled in 1914 from Mitcham plants grown at Molo, in the highlands of British East Africa, possesses a most excellent aroma, quite free of bitterness, and a very high figure indeed for the menthol contained, and there is no question that this source of supply should be an important one in the future.
The United States, however, are now the most important producers of Peppermint oil, producing - mostly in Michigan, where its cultivation was introduced in 1855, Indiana, the western districts of New York State, and to a smaller extent in Ohio - rather under half of the world's total output of the oil. The whole of the Peppermint cultivation is confined to the north-east portion of the United States, and the extreme south of Canada, where some is grown in the province of Ontario. The first small distillery was erected in Wayne County, New York State, in the early part of last century, and
at the present day the industry has increased to such an extent, that there are portions of Michigan where thousands of acres are planted with nothing else but Peppermint. English oil is incomparably the best, but it fetches a very high price, and the French oil, though much inferior, is of finer quality than the American. The problem is to obtain a strain of mint plants which would yield larger quantities of oil in our climate. It is possible that varieties yieldinga more abundant supply of essential oils might be secured by persistent endeavour, without reducing our English standard of refinement. Also economy in harvesting and distilling should be studied. If our English oils could be reduced in price, they would replace the foreign to a greater or less extent depending upon the reduction in cost of production. There are several varieties of Peppermint. The two chief, the so-called 'Black' and 'White' mints are the ones extensively cultivated. Botanically there is little difference between them, but the stems and leaves of the 'Black' mint are tinged purplish- brown, while the stems of the 'White' variety are green, and the leaves are more coarsely serrated in the White. The oil furnished by the Black is of inferior quality, but more abundant than that obtained from the White, the yield of oil from which is generally only about four-fifths of that from an equal area of the Black, but it has a more delicate odour and obtains a higher price. The plant is also more delicate, being easily destroyed by frost or drought; it is principally grown for drying in bundles - technically termed 'bunching,' and is the kind chiefly dried for herbalists, the Black variety being more generally grown for the oil on account of its greater productivity and hardiness. The variety grown at Mitcham is classified by some authorities as M.
piperita, var. rubra.
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html

Main phytochemcials in Mentha(including Peppermint) Phytochemicals Include: 1,8-cineole, Acetaldehyde, Acetic-acid, Alpha-amorphene, Alpha-cadinene, Alpha-carotene, Alpha-copaene, Alpha-gurjunene, Alpha-pinene, Alpha-terpinene, Alpha-terpineol, Alpha-thujone, Alpha-tocopherol, Aluminum, Amyl-alcohol, Amyl-valerate, Anethole, Azulene, Benzoic-acid, Beta-betulenol, Beta-carotene , Beta-caryophyllene, Beta-copaene, Beta-ionone, Beta-pinene, Beta-thujone, Beta-ylangene , Betaine, Bicycloelemene, Bisabolene, Cadinene, Calcium, Camphene, Carvacrol, Carveol,
Carveol-acetate, Carvone, Caryophyllene-oxide, Cedrene, Cedrol, Choline, Chromium, Cineole, Cinerol, Cinnamic-acid-methyl-ester, Cis-piperitol, Cis-roseoxide, Cis-sabinol, Citronellol, Cobalt, Cryptone, Flavons Hymenoxin, Iron, Isoamyl-phenylacetate, Isobutyric-acid, Isomenthol, Isomenthol-acetate, Isomenthone, Isomenthyl-acetate, Isopulegol-acetate, Isorhoifolin, Isovaleraldehyde, Isovaleric-acid, Isovaleric-acid-n-octyl-ester, Jasmone, Lavandulol, Ledol , Limonene, Linalool, Luteolin, Magnesium, Manganese, Menthol, Menthone, Menthoside, Menthyl-acetate, Menthyl-isovalerate, Menthyl-valerate, Myrcene, Myrtenol, Neoisomenthol-acetate, Neomenthol, Neomenthone, Neomenthyl-acetate, Nerolidol, Nevadensin, Niacin, Octan-3-ol, P-cymene, P-cymol, Pectin, Pent-cis-2-en-1-ol, Perillyl-alcohol, Phellandrene, Phenylethanols, Phenyl-propyl-pyridines, Phosphorus, Pinene, Piperitenone, Piperitone, Piperitone-oxide, Potassium, Protein, Pulegone, Pyridine, Riboflavin, Rosmarinic-acid, Rutin, Sabinene, Sabinene-acetate, Sabinene-hydrate, Salvigenin, Selenium, Sideritoflavone, Silicon, Terpinolene, Thiamin, Thymol, Tin, Trans-piperitol,
Trans-roseoxide, Vanillin, Viridiflorol , Xanthomicrol, Zinc
http://www.rain-tree.com/hortela.htm

Olfactory description of Peppermint Oil/Uttar Pradesh
clear white to pale yellow mobile liquid with fresh, crisp, penetrating minty topnote Fine tingling effect on the olfactory receptors which is both cooling and stimulating. One naturally feels alert yet calm as the scent penetrates deep into ones mucous membranes. Beneath this pronounces topnote sits a sweet, clean and softly rounded blasmic heart and base note.

He drove away then, and I stood looking after him. He was a doctor of the old school, of the class of family practitioner that is fast dying out; a loyal and honorable gentleman who was at once physician and confidential adviser to his patients. When I was a girl we called in the doctor alike when we had measles, or when mother's sister died in the far West. He cut out redundant tonsils and brought the babies with the same air of inspiring self-confidence. Nowadays it requires a different specialist for each of these occurrences. When the babies cried, old Doctor Wainwright gave them peppermint and dropped warm sweet oil in their ears with sublime faith that if it was not colic it was earache. When, at the end of a year, father met him driving in his high side-bar buggy with the white mare ambling along, and asked for a bill, the doctor used to go home, estimate what his services were worth for that period, divide it in half -- I don't think he kept any books -- and send father a statement, in a cramped hand, on a sheet of ruled white paper.
Rinehart, Mary Roberts : The Circular Staircase

There was a spot in days of yore whereon I used to stand,
With mighty question in my head, and penny in my hand;
Where motley sweets and crinkled cakes made up a goodly show;
And "story books," upon a string, appeared in brilliant row.
What should I have? The peppermint was incense in my nose;
But I had heard of, "hero Jack," who slew his giant foes:
My single coin was balanced long before the tempting stall,
'Twixt book and bull's-eye---but, forsooth! "Jack" got it after all.
Cook, Eliza, 1818-1889: OLD STORY BOOKS