mint (Mentha spp)
In 2 Tablespoons peppermint: 3% DV vit A, 1% DV calcium, 2% DV vit C, 1% DV iron, 1% DV magnesium, 2% DV manganese. (DV based on 2,000 calorie diet) (11)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is considered more powerful than spearmint. It quiets spasms of the G.I. tract, gallbladder, and bile ducts, and helps digestion. (1)
Anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatherapy, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, refrigerant, stomachic, tonic, vasodilator. (2)
For indigestion, flatulence, and colic, calms upset stomach & muscle spasms in menstrual cramps. (7)
Peppermint tea or oil can be taken for nervousness, insomnia, cramps, coughs, migraines, poor digestion, heartburn, nausea & abdominal pains. It can also be added to a bath for itchy skin conditions. (9)
Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules (0.2-0.4 milliliter, 3X/day) helps IBS. (10)
To treat wounds, burns, scalds, & herpes sores, apply a few drops peppermint oil directly to the affected area (for an anesthetic). For a decongestant, cough-suppressant, or digestive infusion, use 1-2 teaspoons dried peppermint per cup of boiling water, steep 10 minutes, & strain. Drink up to 3 c/day. (10)
There are many varieties of mint. (7)
The plant repels insects, rats, etc. (2) Strew rodent-ridden areas with fresh spearmint, peppermint, or European pennyroyal. (7)
Mint is one (of the many) plant matter that contains monoterpenes. (3)(5)(12) Monoterpenes help prevent cancer (4) and disease (6). It also has phenols & phenylpropanoids, which help in preventing sickness. (12)
Mint is in the Ebers Papyrus, the world's oldest surviving medical text, as a stomach soother. (13)
↕ 18" perennial, hardy to Zone 3; not frost-tender. In flower August - October. Pollinated by insects. Part shade or full sun. Keep soil moist. Best to buy the plant instead of seeds; propagate by division (including part of root). Mint is invasive, so keep in a container. You can also plant in a bottomless container & sink it about 10" deep into the soil. (2) Top dress with compost in autumn. Cut frequently & severely - if you're growing on the ground, you can mow it. (8) Cut leaves as needed. Just before blooming (August) , cut stalks back severely & hang in bunches to dry. (8)
Watch for aphids. Control with a strong spray of water. (8)
Companion plants: cabbage, tomatoes. (2) Mints repel all sorts of garden pests, including aphids, flea beetles, and various cabbage pests. Some mint species contain fungicides & feeding deterrents, as well. (7)
Perfectly safe to use medicinally, though it's a little strong for infants & young children. (7)
Do not take mint tea (infusions) for more than 8-12 days consecutively. After that, wait at least a week before resuming, or heart problems will result. (9) Medicinal amounts of peppermint may promote menstruation, so it should not be used by pregnant women. (10)
1) Armstrong, David. Herbs that Work: Based on the German Government's Commission E Report. Berkely, CA: Ulysses Press, 2001.
7) Kowalchik, Claire & Wm. Hylton (editors). Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1998.
8) Hutchison, Frances (consultant editor). Garden Herbs. NY, NY: B&N, 2003.
9) Lust, John. The Herb Book. NY, NY: Bantam Books, 1974.
10) Castleman, Michale. The New Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 2001.
RECIPE(S) OF THE MONTH
COFFEE: Make your regular coffee & add a few drops of peppermint extract.
MINT TEA (INFUSION): Pour 1 c boiling water over 2-3 teaspoons of mint leaves; steep 10 minutes & strain. Drink up to 2 cups/day, but no more than 8-12 days consecutively (see Caution). You can also add 1 teaspoon lemon grass or lemon balm to your tea before steeping.
RAITA (East Indian salad dressing): 1/2 medium unwaxed cucumber, 1 c plain (Greek) yogurt, 1 T lemon juice, 1 clove garlic (crushed, then minced), 1/2 t pepper, 1/2 t ground cumin, 1/4 t turmeric, 2 T chopped fresh mint, 1 t cumin seeds*, 1 t black mustard seeds*. Slice cucumber lengthwise; discard seeds, & shred. Dry roast cumin seeds & black mustard seeds in a small cast-iron pan; stir til seeds pop. Combine all ingredients, place in glass jar w/lid, and refrigerate for 2 hours; stir in mint & serve w/ lettuce, chopped tomato, cucumber slices, and turmeric-tossed sliced onions.
*if you don't have cumin seeds & black mustard seeds, substitute 1/2 t dry mustard & add an additional 1/2 t ground cumin to yogurt.