Candy “canes” have been a symbol of Holiday traditions for hundreds of years (yes, you read that right!), but no one is quite sure what started it all.
It’s true that today’s candy canes are peppermint flavored, as are nearly every other Holiday treat you can find. It’s also true that their origins can be traced back to Christmas traditions, however, not in ways you might think. How about the peppermint itself? No one really knows why that came to represent the Holidays. I’ll tell you what, though, whoever decided peppermint needed to take the front seat made either a great choice or a lucky guess, because peppermint happens to be one of the most versatile plants in the world.
Peppermint was first discovered by the infamous Carl Linnaeus, who first believed it to be a species all its own. As it turns out, Peppermint happens to be a hybrid of Spearmint and Watermint, which at some time must have bred together and created what we know today as the flavor most commonly associated with “mint”. Peppermint is easily cultivated around the world, and is farmed by many in the Pacific northwest in Oregon and Washington - while most of the world’s production comes from Morocco. Its unique biology allows for their to be many sub-species (or variants) of the plant that can be cultivated. Such variants account for many of the different “types” of mint candies and solutions. For example, a particular breed of Peppermint whose flowers grow downward is often described as “Chocolate Mint” and is used in the flavoring for Andes chocolate candies. It’s these wide array of variants that make peppermint just that much more amazing as an essential oil.
Often, peppermint essential oil is associated with relieving cold symptoms, and while those associations are entirely accurate, peppermint is great for much more than that! Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, peppermint can be used as part of massage oils - particularly because it does such a wonderful job of relaxing muscles and joints. In addition, peppermint combines very well with other oils, like lavender, that also go great with massage oils and lotions! The menthols that exist in peppermint are what cause it to help relieve muscle tension, much like the way eucalyptus and tea tree oils can - but, those menthols aren’t only great for muscle tension. As mentioned before, respiratory issues like colds and congestion can also be remedied by a bit o’ mint! Peppermint essential oil can help immensely as an expectorant, helping you to cough up any phlegm or moisture that you’ve got in your airways. In addition, it can help to open up the sinuses and relieve headaches brought on by congestion in the sinuses. Peppermint has also been used in the past by both indigenous tribes and developed nations as an antibacterial supplement, which is the reason you find it in things like mouthwash and toothpaste. Sure, it makes your breath smell fresh, but that freshness is a direct byproduct of the menthols that are working to kill bacteria and keep your mouth clean!
It’s hard to find things that are as versatile as peppermint, so when you get the chance to get your hands on it, it can be a really great decision. If you’d be interested in trying some peppermint for yourself, you can find peppermint essential oil in Robust, this month’s Mix of the Month, on the Corked.com website, and you can also create your own Mix Your Mood and have your own recipe all to yourself!
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