Add Some Pep With Peppermint!

Get Peppy With Peppermint
The herb peppermint is utilized in many products. Everything from candy, to mouthwash to medicine, contain the flavor of peppermint. But peppermint is more than just a pleasant taste, it has been used for centuries to aide with digestion. In fact, the custom of having an after dinner mint was begun by the ancient Romans, when they ate mint after their meals to aide with the digestion of the meal. Peppermint was recommended by American herbalists for gas, colic, hiccups, and nausea, as early as 1801. Peppermint is probably the best known remedy for stomach ailments. The essential oils in peppermint stimulate the gallbladder and encourage bile secretion, while helping the muscles that line the stomach and the intestines to smooth out and function properly. In fact, in recent years, research has shown that peppermint is very helpful for irritable bowel syndrome, which is a common, hard to treat ailment. Peppermint oil, in extremely high concentrations, may also inhibit and/or kill many microorganisms associated with digestive and other problems. The chemical in the plants volatile oil which makes it so potent and effective as a health aide, is menthol. Menthol, albeit usually a synthetic version, is used in many health care products, for clearing congestion, opening airways, and topically for easing muscle pain and cooling inflammation. While peppermint tea is widely used to receive digestive upset, it is not really recommended for colicky infants because the menthol may cause them to experience a choking sensation. Even in older children, a weakened dilution is recommended. Additionally, please remember that essential oils are highly concentrated and should only be used by drops. In fact, pure menthol is poisonous and should not be used internally.
Peppermint is purported to help;
  • ease intestinal gas
  • relieve indigestion and diarrhea
  • relieve congestion
  • soothe muscle soreness
  • treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • calm menstrual cramps
While spearmint is a related plant, and is also used for flavoring, it is not considered medicinally potent like peppermint, so if you are in need make sure to use peppermint.
Want to make your own breath mints? They aren't that difficult, try this recipe. 1 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup honey 3/4 cup light corn syrup 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (you can also use spearmint, or wintergreen. Adding lemon extract instead of the peppermint will make this a great cough/sore throat drop. Adding comfrey and pepsin, in addition to the lemon, will make this a great stomach relief drop.) 1/2 cup water *You can also add vitamin C if you want to fortify these drops
  • Line a 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure that the foil continues up the sides of the pan.
  • Butter the sides of a 2 qt sauce pan.
  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and honey in the sauce pan. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture boils, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar (this usually takes about 4-6 minutes).
  • Turn the heat down to medium and continue a light boil at a steady rate, stirring occasionally, until at the soft crack stage, 290 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Continue to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally over the next 2-3 minutes. Add the peppermint extract (other herbs or vitamins should be added now if you desire them).
  • Immediately pour the mixture into the foil lined pan and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then go ahead and "mark" your break lines into the mixture with a spatula. Make the portions square and small/large enough for a single serving. If the marks do not stay as the mixture sets up, it means that it was too hot, so mark again and allow it to cool more.
  • Allow the mixture to set overnight, then use the foil to lift the batch from the pan. Break along your marks, and package in individual candy wrappers which can be purchased in the crafting section of grocery stores, or at cake decorating shops. Of course, you can simply use wax paper if you'd prefer.
  • Make sure that you store these in a cool, dark place until you need them. This batch will make about 200 portions, depending upon the size you make them. they should be good for about 6-8 months, but you will need to wrap them well, then store them in a plastic or paper bag.
You can even make your own mouthwash! Making your own mouthwash will ensure that you get a quality mouthwash, without the detergent that most name-brand mouthwashes have. Additionally, if you'd prefer to not have alcohol in you recipe, you don't have to! Simply, place the peppermint extract in water and leave out the alcohol. 1/4 cup 90 proof vodka or everclear 10 to 15 drops of peppermint extract or 3-5 drops of essential oil *make sure that you buy food grade extract or essential oil. (you may use food grade spearmint, wintergreen or cinnamon extract if you'd prefer) 3/4 cup distilled water
  • Mix all together and store in a dark, glass bottle. This mixture will keep for 1-2 months if you use the alcohol, but has no shelf life without it, so mix and use as needed.
  • *You can use food coloring to color the mixture if you'd like
Homemade Tooth Powder 1/4 cup of baking soda 1 tsp of table salt 1 Tbs. dried, finely grated lemon peel 1-2 drops peppermint extract *make sure it is food grade
  • Mix together and use a cheese shaker to sprinkle onto your wet toothbrush. Use as you would a store purchased toothpaste.
  • This will only remain good for about 2 weeks, so do not make a batch at a time.

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