The Health Benefits of Mint
Here are some interesting health benefits you may not have known about Mint. The Mint plant is not only versatile in use for Tea’s, coffee, salads ( personally there is nothing more delightful in a fruit salad than honey and mint) and many other foods, but it is also has been used for thousands of years for its great health benefits.
Many of the most popular and valuable herbs including some of the finest culinary herbs are in the mint family.
Some surprising members of the mint family aren’t considered herbs: ajuga (the ground cover known as carpet bugleweed), bee balm, coleus, lamium (another ground cover), obedient plant (Physotegia virginiana), and salvia are among them.
The Mint we use in gums, mints and many recipes (like chocolate with peppermint bark, mmmmm 😉 originated in Europe and the Mediterranean and its many varieties are now cultivated all over the world and have long been regarded as a symbol of hospitality. The Romans would strew it around at feasts and banquets as a welcoming sign to guests.
The word mint is derived from the Latin word Mentha. Legend has it that Pluto’s wife Proserpina cast a spell on a lovely young lady
who had turned Pluto’s eye and turned her into a mint plant. Both the Latin, Metha, and the Greek, Minthe, have come to be associated with metamorphosed beauty.
Mint was most likely introduced to England by the Romans and is mentioned by John Gardiner before 1440 as ‘myntys’. John Gardiner may have been a pseudonym and little is known about him. He published Feate of Gardening in 1440 but it may have been written much earlier. Feate is perhaps the earliest horticultural work in the English language and was written in verse.
Here are a few of the many uses for Mint:
- Digestion: Mint is a good appetizer and promotes digestion, due to its typical aroma. It also soothes stomach in cases of indigestion, inflammation etc. This aroma of mint activates the saliva glands and secrete digestive enzymes, thereby facilitating digestion.
- Nausea & Headache: Again, the strong and refreshing aroma of mint is an excellent and quick remedy for nausea. Whenever you feel it, just smell the oil of mint or crushed fresh mint leaves or use any product with mint flavor, whichever is available near you, and it will be gone. In fact, many people keep mentha oil or mint flavored products with them to avoid nausea, particularly when they are traveling. Balms based on mint or simply mint oil, when rubbed on forehead and nose, gives quick relief in headache.
- Respiratory Disorders, Cough etc.: The strong aroma of mint is very effective in opening up congestion of nose, throat, bronchi and lungs, giving relief in respiratory disorders resulting from asthma, cold etc. As it cools and soothes throat, nose and other respiratory channels, it gives relief in cough too.
- Asthma: Regular use of mint is very beneficial for asthma patients, as it is a good relaxant and gives relief in congestion. But, over dosage may irritate as well.
- Skin Care, pimples etc.: While mint oil is a good anti septic and anti pruritic, mint juice is an excellent skin cleanser. It soothes skin, cures infections, itching etc., and is also good for acne. Its anti pruritic properties can be used for treating bites of insects like mosquitoes, honey bees, hornets, wasps, gnats etc.
- Oral Care: This is a well known property of mint. Being a germicidal and breathe freshener, it takes care of oral health by inhibiting harmful bacterial growth inside mouth and by cleaning tongue and teeth.
- Cancer: Current researches show that certain enzymes present in mint may help cure cancer.
- Other Benefits: Besides its wide industrial use in foods such as ice-creams, chocolates etc., alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, medicines, inhalers and mouth and breathe fresheners, it is used as a condiment and decorative item in culinary world-wide. Drinks containing mint cools you off in summer. It is a good relaxant. One more peculiar property which is very much in contrary to its cooling and soothing effects is that it induces sweating if consumed in fever, thereby curing it. Mint juice can be applied on burns to heal and soothe them. It is also beneficial in rheumatism. It is also said to improve activity of the brain, although there are no sufficient proofs.
There is a huge variety of mints, chocolate (great in coffee), pineapple, spearmint , peppermint, Apple and on and on. Very important to remember with ALL of them is that this plant is very invasive in the garden. It is a creeping plant that will take over a large area and roots by layering runners. In other words, wherever it touches the ground, it can root. Because mint has a habit of spreading under ground and showing up where ever it likes, most mints are best grown in a pot to be manageable. For me, I say let nature take it course and enjoy the ride. If it doesn’t hurt the ECO system by ending up in the natural environment, then why not enjoy the fruits of your labor in abundance. This is a great plant to share, by digging out at the roots, and by clipping. This is not a good plant to plant in the ground near your lawn as it will get into your grass and run forever, it does smell glorious when you mow though 😉
Try a new mint this year and discover all of its possibilities. Here is a recipe to get you started;
Pork Medallions with Apricots and Mint Glaze
9 ripe apricots
1 tbsp. fresh copped rosemary
6 oz. whipping cream
3 egg yolks
1 oz. mint jelly
10 mint leaves–chopped
Now go get your herbal garden on!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design ( “like” me on facebook!)
(Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time)