Let’s talk about stimulants versus relaxants. Like me, you have probably heard that peppermint is supposed to be a panacea for stomach ailments. I hate to disappoint you, but this simply is not true.
Most mints are stimulants. The only exception I know is catnip, AKA catmint, a relaxant. Peppermint certainly is a stimulant, and if your stomach needs stimulating, then by all means, drink peppermint tea. If, however, your stomach is already working overtime or if you have ulcers, then the stimulation will give you discomfort which you might feel as a burning sensation. I know. I have felt it.
Note re Graphics
: To see the captions, hold the mouse over each photo. I understand that this does not work for Macs.
Growing Conditions for Mints
Most mint varieties are not hardy in zones 2 and 3 where I garden. Only the various varieties of spearmint, peppermint, and catnip are hardy here and probably even in zone 1. I let my mints trail freely throughout the garden. They help to keep insect pests away. I have never had an ant in the house, because ants intensely dislike the smell of mints.
Peppermint and spearmint grow best on cold wet soil. In Germany, I have seen peppermint in standing water in ditches by the roadside. In Alberta’s Jasper Park, I once found a huge stand of spearmint in the waters at the edge of a lake. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, I came across a large stand of peppermint in shallow water in the shade of trees. When I now drive out to my hobby farm, I pass a deep ditch on sandy soil which is fed by an artesian well. The spearmint growing among the reeds sends up a strong smell right up to the road. I must pick some to take home, because it is a different variety from the one I have now
Mints for Respiratory Problems
I picked that peppermint in the Black Hills and dried it on a towel in the car in which we were traveling.
As we spent days in that car with the mint, I felt its medicinal stimulation. Having slept on a synthetic carpet at a friend’s house the night before, I was suffering from severe breathing problems at the time. While sharing the air with the peppermint, it cleansed my breathing organs, and within a day, I felt refreshed and able to breathe freely for the first time on that trip. The effect was comparable to using menthol or eucalyptus oil in a humidifier. I have never witnessed this effect before or since, simply because it takes a lot of the fresh herb to produce it. You could probably achieve a similar result by using peppermint aromatherapy oil.