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Secret Ingredient: Peppermint

Ancient Greek and Romans crowned themselves with peppermint during feasts and adorned their dining tables with its sprigs.

What it is: A hybrid mint that is a cross between water mint and spearmint.

Where it comes from: Indigenous to Europe and Asia, peppermint can now be found all over the world. The plant can sometimes be seen growing in the wild near water mint or spearmint. It thrives in moist, shaded locations and blooms throughout July and August. Some varieties are indigenous to South Africa, South America, and Australia. 

Properties: The peppermint plant has dark, fuzzy green leaves and a smooth stem. When it blooms, it produces purple flowers in whorls around the stem. The leaves and stems of the peppermint plant contain menthol, a volatile oil.

What it’s good for: Because of its enticingly cool yet spicy scent, peppermint is often used in aromatherapy to relieve stress, exhaustion, and anxiety. The oil from this plant can be applied to cool and brighten dull skin. Also, when diluted by another oil such as jojoba, peppermint oil can help to prevent acne and clogged pores when applied topically. If added to a bottle of shampoo, the oil can eliminate dandruff .

Where you’ll find it: Peppermint is a typical ingredient in lip balm due to its cooling effects, which help to soothe chapped, windblown, or sunburned lips. It is also an ingredient in bath salts, as it can relax cramped muscles and ease respiratory ailments. Peppermint is a common ingredient in products such as creams, foot baths, lotions, and hair products.

Other uses: Peppermint is widely available as a tea. Sufferers of ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome can benefit by taking peppermint in a capsule form, which will ease symptoms by relaxing the muscles.

Peppermint is also available in products meant to ease coughing, congestion, and asthma symptoms. It is also a common ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash due to its antiseptic properties.

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