Friday, December 21, 2012

Mama's Herb Cabinet: Peppermint

Almost 8 months into motherhood, and there are a few herbs that I now refuse to do without. I wanted to write about this sooner but I thought it might be smart to wait for some more experience, and I'm glad I did. This is a small list, which I hope to expand in the near future.

Spearmint/Peppermint Oil Rub

Olive oil 
Peppermint or Spearmint essential oil

Directions: Heat olive oil and a few drops of peppermint very slowly, just until warm. Apply externally in small amounts.

This is the first treatment I ever used on Erin. When she was very little, and we were visiting my mom, Erin had some painful tummy gas. Mom disappeared into the kitchen and returned less than 5 minutes later with a warm, soothing bottle of "baby massage oil". Since Erin was all bundled up, we rubbed it onto her tiny feet (as opposed to her abdomen) and soon she was no longer fussing or arching in pain. Later at home and whenever she suffered discomfort from gas, we massaged the oil into her tummy. The antispasmodic properties of peppermint will relax intestinal muscles and help to quickly dispel gas.

Since then, I've discovered other uses for this simple concoction.

Add to humidifier to relieve cold symptoms. There have been times when Erin was so congested, I was afraid to let her nap alone and she had difficulty nursing. The high menthol content in peppermint acts as an expectorant, breaking down phlegm and thinning mucus for better drainage. Breathing it in helped her to sleep better, and cleared up her chest and sinuses. Knowing this helped me sleep better too.

Rub on temples and across forehead to cool a fever. I don't generally stress over fevers, but sometimes you just need to bring relief and comfort where you can.

Massage into lymph nodes to calm an overstimulated little one. Technically, Peppermint is invigorating. However, it is also used widely as a mood enhancer and anxiety/stress relief, and some studies claim it may improve the quality of your sleep. After a bath, or a little before bed, you can strip your baby down and give her a calming massage. Focus on the underarms, inner thigh, and neck.

Add to bath water to sooth aches, high fever, mild skin irritations, or a generally uncomfortable/fussy baby. You can add a few drops of the pure essential oil to the bath, or the olive oil mixture. Either will be helpful.

Note: Caution is recommended when using menthol containing products on children under three years. Always dilute, and apply sparingly.

Next up, Yarrow! An  important herb for combating winter viruses.


  1. Good one! I love using it for colds and tummy stuff. God bless you, Jess.