Peppermint Mentha piperita, is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. The plant, indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, is now widespread in cultivation in many regions of the world. It is found wild occasionally with its parent species. Peppermint was first described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus from specimens that had been collected in England; he treated it as a species, but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid. It is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 30–90 cm tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots. The leaves are from 4–9 cm long and 1.5–4 cm broad, dark green with reddish veins, and with an acute apex and coarsely toothed margins. The leaves and stems are usually slightly fuzzy. The flowers are purple, 6–8 mm long, with a four-lobed corolla about 5 mm diameter; they are produced in whorls (verticillasters) around the stem, forming thick, blunt spikes. Flowering is from mid to late summer. Peppermint is a fast-growing plant; once it sprouts, it spreads very quickly.
Some of the therapeutic properties of peppermint oil are analgesic, anaesthetic, antiseptic, antiphlogistic, antispasmodic, astringent, cordial, decongestant, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and sudorific. This herbal preparation is used in cosmeceuticals, personal hygiene products, foods, and pharmaceutical products for both its flavoring and fragrance properties. This cooling and refreshing essential oil is used in aromatherapy to stimulate the mind, increase mental agility and to increase focus, while cooling the skin, reducing redness and calming irritation and itchiness. It furthermore helps to ease spastic colon, migraine, headaches, sinus and chest congestion and boosts the digestive system.
Peppermint oil is found in many products including hand creams, body creams and butters, face creams, masks, acne treatments, foot creams, vapour rubs, aromatherapy oils, vaporisers, household detergents, soap, bath oils, mouthwash, shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments.