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May 2010 Newsletter 
(click here for web view) 

In this issue

  • Peppermint - A helpful digestive herb.
  • Field Guides - Learn to recognize your herbs.
  • The 2010 Botanical Medicine Program - Starts June 12th (New payment plan available)
  • The Herbal Bear Classes
  • Vacation in the Catskills

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The Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine


Peppermint Peppermint
(Mentha piperita)

By Ursula Basch - The Herbal Bear School 

Peppermint is a common herb that grows easily in the garden. It is a flavoring for items such as candies, gum, toothpaste, etc. Many people also know its medicinal use as a carminative to soothe an upset stomach and aid in digestion. Carminative herbs are very useful because they contain volatile oils that help regulate the intestinal peristalsis . Peppermint has a calming, cooling and slightly numbing effect.  Its primary component - menthol - has been used as an ingredient in chest rubs to treat symptoms of the common cold. Laboratory tests have shown that peppermint oil kills some types of bacteria and viruses, supporting its use as an antibacterial and antiviral herbal remedy. A number of studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.

Peppermint Flowering

Peppermint tea is a delicious way to relieve gas, nausea, and stomach pain due to an irritable bowel, intestinal cramps, or indigestion.
Peppermint dispels gas and bloating in the digestive system and is an antispasmodic capable of relieving stomach and intestinal cramps. Peppermint can be helpful to alleviate stomach acid (hyperacidity),  and gastroenteritis (nausea and stomach upset). However, if your symptoms of indigestion are related to a condition called gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD, peppermint should not be used (see "Precautions" section).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Peppermint oil, given in enteric-coated capsules, has been used for treating IBS, diverticulitis, and other chronic intestinal disorders. The capsules coating allows the release of the oil's therapeutic agents when it reaches the large intestine (colon). Non-coated capsules, they would ordinarily be absorbed in the stomach and never reach the targeted destination.  One study examined 57 people with irritable bowel syndrome who received either enteric-coated peppermint capsules or placebo twice a day for 4 weeks. Of the people who took peppermint, 75% had a significant reduction of IBS symptoms.

Topical Uses
Peppermint is used topically for its cooling and relaxing effect on the skin. Muscle rubs and "ices" often contain peppermint oil to reduce pain, burning, and inflammation. Peppermint oil can have a temporary pain-relieving effect on muscles and organs that are cramped and in spasm. 
Peppermint also relieves itching temporarily. Rub diluted peppermint oil onto insect bites, eczema, and other itching lesions, including the rash of poison ivy to ease the itchiness. As with all essential oils, dilute this oil before putting it directly on your skin.

Large doses of peppermint oil can be toxic. Pure menthol is poisonous and should never be taken internally. It is important not to confuse peppermint oil versus tincture preparations.
Menthol or peppermint oil applied directly to the skin can cause a rash and/or severe allergic reactions.


GERD - Do not take peppermint or drink peppermint tea if you have gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD, a condition where stomach acids back up into the esophagus) or hiatal-hernia. Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus.

Cyclosporine - Do not take peppermint if you take cyclosporine. Peppermint oil may slow down the rate at which the body breaks down cyclosporine which could elevate the drug level in your body.

Antacids - Do not take peppermint with Antacid drugs such as:
• Famotidine (Pepcid)
• Cimetidine (Tagamet)
• Ranitidine (Zantac)
• Esomeprazole (Nexium)
• Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
• Omeprazole (Prilosec)

Diabetes - In vitro studies suggest peppermint may lower blood sugar, raising the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  Consult your physician if you are diabetic.

Infants/Children - Do not give peppermint to an infant. Peppermint oil applied to the face of infants/children can cause life-threatening breathing problems.

Cappello G, Spezzaferro M, Grossi L, Manzoli L, Marzio L. Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Dig Liver Dis. 2007 Jun;39(6):530-6.

Ford AC, Talley NJ, Spiegel BM, Foxx-Orenstein AE, Schiller L, Quigley EM, Moayyedi P. Effect of fibre, antispasmodics, and peppermint oil in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Nov 13;337:a2313. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a2313.

Kline RM, Kline JJ, Di Palma J, Barbero GJ. Enteric-coated, pH-dependent peppermint oil capsules for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in children. J Pediatr. 2001;138(1):125-128.

Madisch A, Holtmann G, Mayr G, Vinson B, Hotz J. Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a herbal preparation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Digestion. 2004;69(1):45-52.

Yamamoto N, Nakai Y, Sasahira N, Hirano K, Tsujino T, Isayama H, et al. Efficacy of peppermint oil as an antispasmodic during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Sep;21(9):1394-8.


Student Identifying herbs.

Field Guides - learn to recognize your herbs!


(All titles below have a link to

We are still accepting students for this years class!

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2010 Botanical Medicine Program  Student gathering herbsclick here to visit webiste

A six weekend intensive program for those interested in a well rounded education in herbal studies. This class is designed to give  students a solid foundation in herbalism.  Each class we will learn about herbs for the different systems including: the digestive, nervous, cardiac, reproductive, and immune system.  Students will learn plant identification, harvesting techniques, medicinal plant preparations and herbal formula development.   This class is held in the Northern Catskills on a private 30 acre property.  Many of the medicinal plants we study are growing in our gardens or found on our property.  Unlike other herbals classes, this class incorporates field work with the plants.  You will be able to see, study and harvest medicinal plants throughout the entire growing season.  This class is designed for beginning and intermediate herbal students. For a full description of this class - please follow this link

Program Dates

The 2010 Botanical Medicine Program meets for all of the following dates:

Saturday, June 12th - Sunday June 13th, 2010
Saturday July 10th - Sunday July 11th, 2010
Saturday August 14th - Sunday August 15th, 2010
Saturday September 11th - Sunday Sept 12th, 2010
Saturday October 2nd - Sunday October 3rd, 2010
Saturday October 23rd - Sunday October 24th, 2010

Program Cost:

Option 1:
Full Registration. Pay in full: $3150.00. Click HERE.

   -   or   -

Option 2:
Registration with Easy Payment Plan: $3600 in 6 monthly installments by automatic credit card payment. Begin by April 15, 2010.

If you have any specific questions about our programs, please feel free to contact us



Upcoming Classes:

The following classes are listed by program dates. To view classes listed by location please see our programs page. To view a full description of the class or to register on line for any class please click on the individual class.


Vacation in The Catskills


Our beautiful Catskill cabin, when not being used for The Herbal Bear School's teaching, is available for your vacation rental. 


Small two bedroom cabin located on 30 wooded acres in the Northern Catskill Mountains of New York State. Three hours drive from New York City, approximately one hour drive from Albany, NY. Weekend and weekly rentals.

Cabin can accommodate up to four people. Outdoor hot tub, 24 ft above-ground pool, secluded pond, and acres of beautiful mountain views. Satellite dish TV, satellite internet, and free phone calls to any of the 48 continental United States.

Our cabin is a pet friendly accommodation.

For more information vist:

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