Saturday, December 14, 2013

An "Essential" Oil For The Holidays: Peppermint

I am grateful that the season o' pumpkins left so quickly and even more grateful that my favorite time of the year for smelling, tasting and sharing joy is finally here!  Today, I am posting some easy ways to save yourself some 'reindeer' bucks with a favorite flavor of the season and its many amazing uses that go well beyond food. 

I have found myself using peppermint oils and spearmint lotions increasingly over the years for anti-stress, anti-bug and happy-flavor options.  Each December I literally inhale this both on the dessert table and from the candles glowing throughout my home.

This summer I purchased a couple of small bottles of peppermint oil (note: the grocery store version not the essential kind) to squirt around some of my bird feeders which worked very well to keep away anything pesky thanks toa helpful tip from pinterest.  I realized I could make my own for much less and thought of when I made homemade eucalyptus mint bath salts  with my nieces using essential oils a few months ago and the fun we had.

An oil is considered "essential" when it comes from the essence of the plant which is generally extracted by distillation often by using steam in a manufacturing plant.  I found a much easier and practical way to fulfill my needs in making my own concentrated oil (and even more proudly a sustainable local way as well)! 

I bought a peppermint plant a few months ago at the farmers market and it has grown incredibly well on my patio creating a wonderfully 'green' option for my future use. 

Some of you might be surprised at the many uses for your favorite oils and how feasible it is to make your own with only a couple of ingredients and a couple of minutes!

In making my oil, I took cuts from my peppermint plant and some EEOO.   

I squished as many clippings as I could fit into a jar and covered with oil ensuring no leaves were left uncovered on the top to prevent
any potential mold.

Letting it sit for a month for maximum concentration in a cool dark place, I was delighted to find the beautiful aroma and taste of peppermint ready to be used.  I removed the mint and can use it in recipes and even dropped a few at the bottoms of my bird feeders out in the yard for extra help keeping pests away - it truly works well! 

Here are some other neat ways I have found from other bloggers to cook with or use your oil:

Here is a fun recipe for Peppermint Playdough  or some 10 minute peppermint soap here

And how about some yummy Peppermint Patties, using extract instead of oil*.  During my research, I also found the difference between extracts and oils.  Concentrated oils are stronger than extracts and it takes less oil than an extract when flavoring foods. I have read that you would use anywhere from 1/2 to 1/3 less of extract in your recipes. With baking, I say always let your taste buds be the true judge of how much to use and experiment.

Carrie Raab from Young Living also writes about many other uses for peppermint oil here:
  1. Add a drop of peppermint essential oil to herbal tea to help aid normal digestion and to relieve heartburn.
  2. Massage several drops of peppermint essential oil on the abdomen, place a drop on wrists, or inhale to soothe the minor stomach discomfort associated with travel.
  3. Rub one drop of peppermint essential oil on the temples, forehead, over the sinuses (careful to avoid contact with your eyes), and on the back of the neck to relieve head pressure/headache.
  4. Place 2 drops of peppermint essential oil on the tongue and rub another drop of oil under the nose to help improve concentration and alertness.
  5. Apply peppermint essential oil to the back of the neck and shoulders throughout the day to keep energy up.
  6. Inhale peppermint essential oil, apply topically to your temples or neck, or put a drop on your tongue or in water to jump-start your morning routine. Excellent to do prior to working out!
  7. Diffuse or inhale peppermint essential oil mid-morning to curb the desire to snack.
  8. Inhale peppermint essential oil or rub a drop on to your abdomen to soothe minor stomach discomfort.
  9. Rub 4-6 drops of Peppermint oil in the palm and rub over the stomach and around the naval to relieve indigestion, flatulence and diarrhea.
  10. Massage several drops of Peppermint oil on an area of injury or chronic inflammation.
  11. Apply Peppermint oil immediately to an injured area (not broken skin) to relieve pain. If there is a cut, apply the Peppermint oil around but not on the open wound.
  12. Rub several drops of Peppermint oil on the bottoms of the feet to reduce fever.
  13. Apply a drop of Peppermint oil topically on unbroken skin to stop itching.
  14. For poison ivy or poison oak, apply Peppermint oil on location neat or dilute with V-6 vegetable mixing oil.
  15. Inhale Peppermint oil before and during a workout to boost your mood and reduce fatigue.
  16. To stop hiccups, apply a drop of Peppermint oil on each side of the fifth cervical vertebra (up three notches from the large vertebra at the base of the neck).
  17. Diffuse Peppermint oil in the room while studying to improve concentration and accuracy. Inhale Peppermint oil
    while taking a test to improve recall.
  18. Rub 4 drops of Peppermint oil on the chest and stomach to relieve travel sickness.
  19. Place a drop of Peppermint oil on the tongue and inhale into the nose and sinuses to relieve congestion from a cold.
  20. Add Peppermint oil to food as a flavoring.  Recipe for Peppermint Chocolate Truffles
  21. To deter rodents, ants or cockroaches, place two drops of Peppermint oil on a cotton ball and place along the
    path or point of entry for these pests.
  22. Mix a 15 ml. bottle of Peppermint oil into a 5 gallon can of paint to dispel the fumes.
  23. Place a drop of Peppermint oil in a cup of coffee to create your own peppermint mocha.
  24. Add 4-5 drops of Peppermint oil to 4 oz. of water and spray plants to kill aphids.
  25. Drink a drop of Peppermint oil mixed in a glass of cold water to cool off on a hot day.
  26. Rub Peppermint oil on joints to relieve arthritis or tendonitis pain.
  27. Place a drop of Peppermint oil on the tongue to stop bad breath.
  28. Remove tick by applying a drop of Peppermint oil on a cotton swab and swabbing the tick. Wait for it to withdraw its head from the skin and remove it.
  29. Mix Peppermint oil in a foot bath to relieve sore feet.
 I truly hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season and enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate with a splash or sprig of mint and festive cheer!