Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Pleasures of Peppermint

An excerpt from an article by Julie Keller, from American Spa magazine.

During the holidays, the word "peppermint" evokes images of candy canes and Christmas stockings. Though the tasty treat is a staple of the season, it is also a valuable ingredient when it comes to skincare and health. A cross between watermint and spearmint, peppermint is a fragrant herb that has been cultivated for years for its medicinal properties. Peppermint oil helps to treat indigestion, respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, fevers, and more. It also has antiseptic properties and is a common ingredient in toothpaste, shampoo (conditioner), and gum. For these reasons and more, products and treatments that incorporate peppermint are a sweet treat for spa-goers, particularly during the holidays. "Peppermint-themed services around the holidays often generate a nostalgic feeling and bring back memories of special moments," says Debra Catania, vice president for Catania Hospitality Group.

Though it is popular for the holidays, peppermint is also soothing throughout the year, particularly during cold and flu season. "Peppermint is stimulating and a decongestant," says Marc Zollicoffer, Aveda's global educator for massage and spa. "It has been used for hundreds of years to comfort the symptoms of colds and flu." Adds Stillwater Spa's Dail, "Because peppermint oil increases immunity to diseases, it is ideal for the winter season."

Zollicoffer also finds peppermint to be a superb soother for tired tootsies and stress, problems clients encounter 365 days a year. "We put our feet in tight shoes and stand on them for long periods of time, so the stimulating and cooling properties of peppermint benefit the feet," he says. "The number-one reason people visit spas is for stress relief. When people are stressed, they are often 'stuck' in their heads, so scalp massage with peppermint oil can get the energy flowing again and help people process stress."

Peppermint Prudence

While it is touted for its many benefits, some spa-goers should refrain from partaking in peppermint treatments, as they can be too stimulating for expectant mothers. Pregnant spa-goers should avoid peppermint services altogether. It is also rather potent, so cover your clients' eyes and other sensitive areas when pampering with peppermint.—J.K.

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