by Dennis Willmont
|Monoterpene Hydrocarbons (more than 16%): α- and β-pinenes, (-)-limonene, Phellandrene, camphene; Monoterpene Alcohols: menthol (up to 48%), piperitol, piperitenol; Sesquiterpene Hydrocarbons: β-caryophyellene; Ketones: menthone (up to 30%), piperitone, carvone, jasmone; Oxides: 1.8 cineole (5%); Esters: menthyl acetate; Coumarins.
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| The unusual Yin within Yang character of Peppermint (initially Hot but ultimately Cool) is chemically derived from its equally unusual combination of the Yang stimulating and tonic Monoterpene Hydrocarbons and Monoterpene Alcohols and the even more Yang stimulating Oxides with the Yin calming and sedating properties of the relatively large portion of Ketones, which hold the otherwise Yang expression of Peppermint in check. The Yang aspect of Peppermint Rectifies the Brain, Moves the Qi, Rectifies Liver Qi, and Fortifies the Stomach and Spleen. Its Yin within Yang aspect Clears HeatReduces Inflammation, Stops Pain, Stops Lactation, and Quells the Liver.
Properties Pungent and slightly sweet. Warm and Cool, Dry. Generates Warmth for Damp Cold (in smaller doses); Cools the Exterior for Wind Heat (in larger doses).
Functions Rectifies the Brain; Rectifies the Spirit; Normalizes the Yi/Intention; Develops Tolerance: mental fatigue, fainting, absent-mindedness; convalescents with chronic exhaustion; excessive pride, feelings of inferiority. Moves Qi; Opens the Exterior; Rids Wind; and Clears Hot Mucous: colds and flu with fever, sore throat and headache;
|chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, sinus congestion; dyspepsia. Clears Heat; Reduces Inflammation: burns, scalds, acne, boils, poison ivy/poison oak. Stops Pain: rheumatic pain, toothache. Stops Lactation: excessive breast milk (weans), curdled or congested breast milk. Rectifies Liver Qi; Quells the Liver: general asthenia, frontal or occipital headache due to Liver congestion, acute cholelithiasis, hepatitis, dizziness, vertigo, tremors, coma, menstrual pain before onset, PMS. Fortifies the Stomach and Spleen: indigestion, nausea, epigastric distention, flatulence, gurgling abdomen, loss of appetite, intestinal colic, gastrointestinal ulcers, colitis. Rids Insects: mosquito and gnat repellent.
Five Phase Association Wood Fire Metal
Chakra Association Three primarily, but also One, due to its secondary association with Wood in keeping the Yin and Yang Qi in harmony.
Discussion According to ancient Greek mythology, the story of Mint is closely woven with the mysteries of sexuality and passion. Its contradictory actions are at once strengthening to the Reproductive Qi, contraceptive, and even abortifacient. According to ancient French proverbs, girls who drink Mint will fall in love, while bulls that eat Mint will become enraged with passion. The Latin name for Mint, Mentha, mentalis or mens, means “mind” or “spirit”. Paradoxically, Mint can also signify sexual sublimation and the development of a discriminatory mind capable of granting those who exercise it freedom of choice and the awareness of self.
In Greek mythology, the nymph Mintha was the lover of Hades (the Roman Pluto), god of the Underworld and lived with him in his underground kingdom. However, Hades eventually abducted Persephone, the daughter of Zeus (the king of the gods) and Demeter (the goddess of the harvest and fertility). According to the myth, two things occurred after this abduction that help to elucidate the different properties of Mint. The first was that Mintha flew into such a rage that Persephone trod her into the ground with her heel and turned her into Mint. This part of the story signifies the burning passion of Mintha, as well as the anger that comes about, when passion is not transformed. The meaning of this legend is that Peppermint (Mintha) enables one to transform anger in order to more accurately perceive ones place in life. Peppermint both stimulates and soothes the Liver. In Chinese acupuncture, the Liver transforms anger through Perspective (a version of the Liver Spirit) to Compassion (a version of the Liver virtue), thus enabling one to see the bigger picture. In this case, the bigger picture is that Divine Will did not sanction Mintha’s personal needs. After all, Mintha was only a nymph while Persephone was a goddess and not just any old goddess but the daughter of the king of gods himself. Because of its correlation to the Spring, the Liver also relates to ones ability to extend boundaries and has to do with stepping on others or being stepped on by them. Peppermint cools the steam of anger created by the encroachment of others and allows a more cool-headed approach to take root. The legend of Mintha dramaticizes the importance of the Liver Spirit to place the events of ones life into a proper perspective through the ability to visualize and understand how one best fits into a harmonious relationship with others. In fact, this idea clearly describes the virtue of the Liver (Compassion). In Chinese, the word for “compassion” is仁 (rén), depicts two people occupying the same space and time harmoniously, both understanding the needs of the other. Confucius talked about Ren/Compassion at length and considered it to be the most important of the Five Virtues.
The second thing that occurred after the abduction in the Mintha/Persephone myth has to do with the contraceptive aspect of Mint. In ancient times, Mint was thought to coagulate the sperm and obstruct generation by killing the fetus. These ideas are symbolized by the reaction of Demeter to the abduction of her daughter Persephone after which she grieved so inconsolably that the earth became “barren” from her neglect. Later in Athens a fertility festival held exclusively for women called the Thesmophoria was held in her honor. These dual aspects of fertility and contraception are further symbolized at a rare temple in the Peloponnese dedicated to Hades at the foot of Mount Minth (Mintha→Mint) on the edge of a sacred wood consecrated to Demeter. The message symbolized in this juxtaposition is that passion for life will be eternally transmuted to fit the occasion. The relationships through which it manifests may change form in order to accommodate the players involved, but the passion itself will resurrect itself and find a more fitting expression. One of the common names for Mint, “Herb of Death”, comes from the ancient French countryside where Mint was burned in rooms where the dead were laid. While the more obvious use was possibly to conceal the smell of death, the symbolism relates more to the passion of the life spirit that will always spring forth again in newer and more vital situations as time goes on. Anger concerning the loss of a loved one would, therefore, be a good use for Peppermint on this level, which could then transmute base emotion into a higher perspective more suitable for the Good of All.
The alternating play between the physical and psycho-emotional, hot and cold, nature of Peppermint is also reflected in the growth of the plant, especially its flowers. Flowers in general represent the maximum outward expression of the plant before it turns its energy inward to form the seed. In this way, the flower embodies the plant’s Yang force that generally manifests through heat and color. For this reason, the flowers of most plants place themselves at the outermost position of the plant—the top of the stem.
In Peppermint, however, the flowering occurs in a series of globe-shaped clusters at the junction of the stem and branches. This juxtaposition gives one the impression that the Peppermint flowers are climbing up the stem as if they were rungs of a ladder and that, rather than manifesting their Yang force in one single explosion at the top of the stem, the Peppermint flowers organize this expression into small sequential bursts. This pattern demonstrates the restraining signature of Yin upon Yang, the Cold upon the Heat, and symbolizes the restraining of unmitigated passion—passion that seeks the personal good at the expense of the Good of All. This unique Yin-Yang pattern perfectly represents the spring season, which corresponds to the Liver and the Wood Phase. At this time, the Yin forces must carefully temper the outward Yang expansion of the plant so that it will not expand so rapidly that it will be killed by the next frost. This Yin tempering force places the Yang growth factors of the plant into proper perspective, a perspective that includes not only the immediacy of the daily weather, but the context of the season the daily weather is in. These ideas fit perfectly with the psycho-spiritual effects of the Liver that Peppermint is able to instill in those who use it—the ability to apply the big picture to daily life.
Peppermint Blend can be blended with most oils although it tends to dominate ones that are most fragile.
Blend Peppermint with Rosemary cineole for debility caused by prolonged allopathic treatments.
Blend with Lemon to purify the blood.
Blend with Raventsara, Eucalyptus citriadora and Lavendula vera in a carrier oil of St John’s Wort for shingles.
Blend with Cinnamon, Savory, Pine Needles and Rosemary bornyl for psycho-emotional blockages.
Blend with Lavendula vera in a carrier oil of St John’s Wort for stomach pains, toothache and muscular pains. Blend with Rosemary bornyl Lemon and Dill Seed to drain a tired liver.
Blend with Carrot Seed to build up liver cells. Blend with Lemon, Basil, and Rosemary bornyl for hepatitis and after the acute stage with Carrot Seed and Dill Seed.
Blend with Thyme and Aniseed to stimulate digestion.
Blend with Lemon to prevent nausea and vomiting in travel sickness.
Blend with Sage and Savory for cystitis.
Large amounts or extensive use may cause epilepsy or excitation to the point of stupefaction, or hypertension. Use cautiously with High Blood Pressure. Contraindicated in Dry or Yin Deficient Conditions or gastric hyperacidity. Do not use on infants younger than thirty months. Avoid use in pregnancy and lactation.
Keep away from the nostrils of infants because of the risk of spasm of the glottis. The limonene contained in Peppermint is potentially allergenic, as tests on the chemical isolate have shown. The menthol contained in Peppermint can be an irritant in high concentration especially if evaporation from the skin is prevented. Also, the menthol can possibly build up to a toxic concentration in those individuals with liver enzyme deficiencies*. Limit topical applications to small areas.
*Barber and Gagnon-Warr 2002.
Dennis Willmont has been practicing acupuncture, and Taijiquan, and Daoist
meditation since 1971. He has published numerous articles in academic
journals on acupuncture and natural healing and has published four books on
these topics, which can be found on his website, www.willmountain.com