Herbs Profile

Pudina (peppermint)

pudina

This hardy perennial is famously fragrant. It is full of aromatic menthol, which ‘wakes up’ the senses and decongests the orifices of the head as well as calming and relaxing digestion.

Common name Mint (E), peppermint (E), horsemint (E), Pudı-na (H), Puthia (H) Sanskrit Pudına Latin Mentha piperita or arvensis–Folium (Labiatae)

ENERGETICS

  • Rasa (taste) Sweet, pungent
  • Vırya (energy) Cooling and heating
  • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Pungent
  • Guna (quality) Light, dry, penetrating
  • Dosa effect PKV−, V+ in excess
  • Dhatu (tissue) Plasma, blood, nerve
  • Srotas (channel) Digestive, circulatory, respiratory, nervous

CONSTITUENTS

  • Flavonoids
  • Bitter principle
  • Tannin
  • Essential oils Menthol, menthone
  • Vitamin Choline (Mills & Bone 2000, Duke 2004)

AYURVEDIC ACTION

  • Dıpana Enkindles appetite
  • Anuloma Redirects the flow of vata downwards
  • Svedana Diaphoretic
  • Sirovirecana Purges the orifices of the head

BIOMEDICAL ACTION

Carminative, diaphoretic, analgesic, antipruritic, nervine, aromatic

INDICATIONS

Digestion Nervous digestion, flatulence, bloating, IBS, ulcers, nausea, and anorexia (Bartram 1995). Specific for pitta inflammation and irritation causing gastritis and enteritis. The aromatic essential oils cool the heat of pacaka pitta and regulate samana vayu. This can help to alleviate morning sickness, vomiting and spasms in the gastrointestinal tract.

Colds Commonly used as a hot tea at a high dose to cause sweating in colds and flu. As mint moves upwards and outwards it is especially useful where ama blocks the pores and they need opening. It is useful where the lungs are congested with catarrh and constricted by spasm, causing wheezing or asthma (Frawley & Lad 1994).

Nerves It normalises the flow of prana vayu all over the body. By moving upwards and outwards it spreads any congested vata blocked from whatever cause; ama, kapha, high vata or high pitta. The high levels of the space element (akas´a tattva) present within peppermint with its expansive nature moving upwards and outwards opens the mind and lifts the ‘heaviness’ of mental and emotional tension and constriction. It opens spaces and creates room for movement.

Skin Peppermint water as an external spray is excellent for cooling and soothing skin inflammation, hot flushes and allergic itching (Tillotson 2001).

Gynaecology Often combined in formulas that help the flow of vata in the lower abdomen and ease menstrual congestion, pain and amenorrhoea (Frawley & Lad 1994).

COMBINATIONS

* Kutki, guduchi, shatavari for high pitta in the intestines.

* Cardamom, fennel, ajwain for high vata and intestinal spasms, flatulence, etc.

* Pippali, fresh ginger, cinnamon for colds to induce sweating.

* Brahmi, gotu kola, licorice for the mind and tension.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

High vata; sensitive individuals and epileptics need to regulate dosage.

SAFETY

May interact with iron medication, should be avoided by patients with oesophageal reflux, and it may negate the effect of gastric reflux medication (Bone 2003). The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends caution in patients with gallstones as it may cause stones to move into the bile duct and if they are too large they may become stuck (WHO 1999).

DOSAGE

1–30g per day or 3–20ml per day of a 1:3 @ 45% tincture.

NOTES

There are different classifications of the various mints as ‘heating’ or ‘cooling’ (see Aristotle, Galen; Tierra 1992, Bensky & Gamble 1993, Holmes 1999). It is a lengthy debate! Mentha piperita appears to have both qualities; its pungency acts as a stimulant diaphoretic while its sweet and bitter flavour has anti-inflammatory activity. The menthol appears to be both stimulant and anti-inflammatory.

Ayurvedically speaking, peppermint reduces all three dosas; its warming pungency dries kapha via diaphoresis, its sweet cooling effect reduces pitta; and its relaxing sweet pungency reduces vata. The stimulating effect of high doses may aggravate vata. The Nighan.t. u ratna-kara describes Mentha arvensis as pungent in taste, hot in energy and pungent post-digestively.

Regarding energetics, the dose and method of taking the remedy are all important. A low dose is relaxing, benefiting a va-ta stagnated by  constriction; a medium dose (preferably taken at a cool temperature) benefits the anti-inflammatory needs of pitta, and a high dose of a hot drink clears kapha. This returns us to the human nature of herbalism and Ayurveda; it is all about the person, their individual constitution and condition as well as the dose of the medicinal herb.

Mentha arvensis is also commonly used in India and has a specific  antispasmodic and emmenagogue action.

Mint is not mentioned in the early ayurvedic literature.

About the author

Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari

Experienced holistic doctor, healer, teacher, and writer
Specialized in Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma)
Trained in India and Nepal, the original lands of Ayurveda
Graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) from the Institute of Medicine at Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.
Professional member of Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)
Owner of Sunshine Ayurveda

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