Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peppermint Thoughts





This has a few thoughts about peppermint and it makes clear why it appears beneficial to our senses, while an actual explanation is absent.  We can not win them all.

In the meantime here is a bit of lore and a couple of recipes to play with or watch out for.

Enjoy!


It Takes Me Someplace Else…

Published on June 7th, 2011

Written by Dr. Al Sears


Peppermint is a real medical curiosity to me. It’s wonderfully effective and it’s almost immediately effective.

I don’t completely understand it. How can you take an herb, and it has its effect in one to five seconds? It means there’s something else going on other than the normal explanations of chemistry and physiology.

Part of it might be the aromatherapy effect, because it’s very aromatic. You can crush the leaf in your fingers and inhale it, and feel better in an instant.

Break it up and breathe it in and you get that “aaaahhhhhhhhhh” feeling. Like you just came back from taking a shower, or a walk on a spring day. It takes you someplace else…

Peppermint grows in my backyard, and I use it quite a bit.

I even use it to make a better mint-flavored drink. I get cachaça from Brazil and it’s so much better if you put peppermint in it.

It’s pronounced “ca-shah-sah” and it’s the national liquor of Brazil. I use it to make a traditional Brazilian drink for guests at my house. It’s called a caipirinha (kie-purr-REEN-yah).

And of course, you can use peppermint to make a mojito.

When I go to Peru, I get Pisco. It’s almost impossible to get here in the United States, but whenever I go I always bring bottles back.

You can go to this area that’s like the Napa Valley of Peru and you can sample the Pisco. But you can only drink about two Pisco drinks. There’s also a Pisco freeze that they make, and they tell you “only drink two.” The first time I was ever exposed to it I drank about eight (bad idea).

Pisco is treated like wine in that they take great care with the grapes, and they make it at estates that are like vineyards. They have their own name and flavor and vintage and all that…

It’s distilled down to a purified, clear liquid, like vodka or gin. But instead of using grain or potatoes it starts with grapes.

They make wine, and then they distill the wine into Pisco which gives it this little bit of an aftertaste. It has a tonal quality that is deeper and broader than something like vodka, which to me, you don’t want to taste at all because it tastes horrible.

But Pisco is refreshing, and if you put peppermint in it, it’s even better.

You can take a piece of peppermint when you have a belly ache, gastritis, reflux or indigestion, put it in the back of your mouth on your molars, bite into it and just let it sit there…

…breathe in, and by the time you exhale your stomach ache will be gone.

And if you take it, not only will your stomach problems go away very quickly, but also it has a mental effect. It tends to be calming and somehow clarifying. You get a mental focus.

It’s the reason we developed mint as an after-dinner candy. Because it was originally made from real peppermint to help you avoid indigestion and feel better after eating.

Healers also use peppermint to treat headaches, skin irritations, nausea, diarrhea, and cramps. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs.

Studies show that peppermint has strong antioxidant and antitumor actions, and kills some types of bacteria and viruses.1

To treat stomach aches, it’s always best to use fresh peppermint. You can just chew a leaf, or make peppermint tea.

For irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, you can take enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil. It’s completely safe. The coating stops the oil from getting digested too early. One study gave either the capsules or a placebo to people with IBS. Of the people who took peppermint, 75% had a significant reduction of IBS symptoms.

Another study compared enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules to placebo in children with IBS. It found that in only 2 weeks, 75% had reduced symptoms.2

To cure headaches, you can spread a tincture of peppermint on your forehead and let it evaporate.

Making peppermint tea is simple:

Steep 1 teaspoon of crushed peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes;
Strain and cool;

Drink four to five times per day between meals.

To make a Dr. Sears caipirinha:

1. Take a clean lime and roll it a little on a wooden board to loosen the juices;
2. Chop the lime into pieces;
3. Sprinkle a little sugar on the pulp side;
4. In a bowl, press the pieces with a wooden tool just enough to release the juice; 
5. Take the lime out, leaving the juice;
6. Pour into a glass, adding sugar, cachaça ice and a splash of water;
7. Break up two fresh peppermint leaves; add to caipirinha; enjoy!

To make a Dr. Sears Pisco freeze:

1. Take an egg and separate the white from the yolk;
2. Cut one lemon and one lime in half;
3. Squeeze the lemon and lime over the egg white and mix vigorously;
4. Mix in one teaspoon of sugar;
5. Pour Pisco and mix over ice;
6. Break up one peppermint leaf and add to the container;
7. Shake hard until the ice is melted and pour into a cocktail glass;
8. Alternatively, you could crush the ice and make it like a slush.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD


1 McKay, Diane L., Blumberg, Jeffrey B., “A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea,” Phytotherapy Research August 2006;20(8):619–633
2 “Peppermint,” University of Maryland Medical Centerwww.umm.edu

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