Whether or not peppermint was among the mints used during the middle ages can no longer be determined. In the oldest German treatise on distillation the Liber de arte distil/and/6) of the year 1500, the following mints are mentioned as being used in the preparation of distilled waters: Mentha aquatica, Mentha rubra, Mentha balsamica, Mentha sarracenica and Mentha crispa, but no distinguishing characteristics are given. Neither is it definitely known whether the kinds of mint used formerly agree with those now in use. As far as known, the only specimens of Mentha piperita which are several hundred years old, are found in the herbarium of the British Museum in London. John Ray,1) the English naturalist, had obtained them from the county of Hertfordshire of southern England in 1696 and described them as Mentha palustris, "peper mint". The well preserved specimens correspond in all essential characteristics with the peppermint which is to-day cultivated in Mitcham, county of Surrey, near London.2) The cultivation of peppermint in Mitcham seems to have begun about the middle of the 18. century and was of some importance toward the end of that century. Up to 1805, however, the distillation of peppermint oil was not conducted in Mitcham but in London.3)

1) Capitulare de villis et cortis imperial/bus. Translated and explained by A. Thaer. In Fuhling's Landwirtschaftliche Zeitung. April number 1878. p. 241 - 260.

2) Meyer, Geschichte der Botanik. 1856. Vol. 3, p. 406.

3) Hildegardis Abbatissae Subtilitatum diversarum naturarum creatura-rum libri novem. Editio Migne. 1855. p. 1161.

4) Karl Regel, Das mittelhochdeutsche Gothaer Arzneibuch. Gotha 1873. p. 21.

5) Hieronymus Brunschwig, Liber de arte destillandi. De simplicibus. 1500. fol. 75 b. - Val. Cordus, Dispensatorium Nor/cum. Editio Parisiis. 1548. pp. 77, 284, 285, 378, 381, 418, 419, 432. - Gesner, De Hortis Germaniae liber recens. 1561.

6) Brunschwig, Liber de arte destillandi. De simplicibus. 1500. fol. 75.

The English peppermint industry reached its height about 1850. From that time on American competition caused a decided setback in the production.*) For purposes of distillation, peppermint was evidently not cultivated earlier on the continent than in England. According to the Leyden botanist David Gaubius, it was cultivated for this purpose near Utrecht in 1770. He also mentions the menthol, the camphora europaea menthae piperi tidis.5) Meanwhile Linnaeus had named the plant Mentha piperita.

About the same time peppermint was cultivated in Germany. Following the example of the London Pharmacopoeia, in which peppermint was officinal since 1721 as Mentha piperitis sapore, it was mentioned in medical and botanical treatises. The treatise by Knigge6) seems to have made it better known in professional circles.

In japan, hower, the cultivation of peppermint appears to antedate that of any other country. It is reported to have begun before the Christian period. According to Flueckiger, even menthol (Hakuku, Hakka) has been separated since that time and used as a remedy.1) According to Naojiro Inouye,2) the words Hakuku and Hakka do not mean menthol, but peppermint. In the oldest medical treatise of Japan, the Daiso-Rui-Shu-Ho (806 - 809), peppermint is not mentioned. However, in the Shin-J-Ho, compiled by Tamba Yasuyori in 984, the plant is mentioned as Megusa {Me = eye, gusa = herb), of which an eyewater was made. When peppermint oil was first distilled in Japan is not known. The export of this oil began in 1873.

1) John Ray, Historia plantarum. London 1704. Vol. 3, p. 284.

2) Fluckiger, Pharmakognosie. 3. edition. 1891. p. 726.

3) Lysons, Environs of London. 1800. p. 254.

4) Chemist and Druggist 1891, 405.

5) Hieronymi Davidii Gaubii Adversariorum varii argumenti liber unus. Leidael771. pp. 99 - 112.

6) Knigge, De mentha piperitide commentatio. Dissertatio. Erlangae 1780.