Mentha (also known as mint) is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae. The species are not clearly distinct, but there are between 13 and 18 types.
The species that make up the Mentha genus grow across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America and most of them grow best in wet environments and moist soils.
The most common mints are peppermint (Mentha × Piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Peppermint is much more effective as a medicinal herb than spearmint, (as the latter is mostly a culinary herb). However, you should use Spearmint instead Peppermint in cases of digestive problems or colic in very small children, as Peppermint could be too strong.
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Benefits and Notes
Besides its culinary use, mint has a lot of medicinal properties, so it is used for medical purposes. Almost all mints are analgesic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, digestive, repellant, and stimulant.
- Mint is commonly found in herbal remedies for a migraine, fever, and sore throat, as well as for treatment of sinus and chest congestion.
- Externally, many mints repel some pest insects (wasps, hornets, ants, and cockroaches) and mosquitoes.
- They also can be used to treat the itchiness caused by bites of insects, stings, rashes, eczema, and other minor wounds, as well as to reduce pain in cases of arthritis and chronic joint pain (whether in a cold compressor rubbed directly into the skin).
- Besides, mint tea can act as a sleeping aid or as a mild decongestant for the common cold, for example.
- This medicinal herb is a good remedy for reducing symptoms which are related to digestion, so taking a cup of mint tea after meals may help to ease bloating, cramps, diarrhea, flatulence, heartburn, and nausea.
- However, you should bear in mind that not everyone reacts the same way to mint. For some people, instead of soothing these symptoms, it actually makes them worse. If that is your case, try using lavender or basil instead for this purpose.
Although rare, symptoms of allergy to this natural ingredient include mainly abdominal cramps and diarrhea, headaches, tingling around your mouth, nasal congestion, and nausea.
You should also bear in mind:
- that Mentha mints may slow lactation,
- that the pure mint essential oil should never be taken internally,
- that the pure mint essential oil should not be used in any way by pregnant women,
- and that the pure mint essential oil should always be diluted before using externally.
At first, mint reduces hunger for a short time. However, when the effects disappear, the hunger returns even stronger than before. If you need to stimulate your appetite, drink a mint tea 30 minutes before a meal.
Refreshing and Cleansing Facial Wash
- 1 handful mint leaves.
- ¼ gal cool water.
- Place a handful of crushed mint leaves (you can use any type) in a pan with cool water.
- Let it soak for 1 hour.
- Chill in the refrigerator and then use as desired.
Herbal oil or ointment for pain
- 4 oz fresh mint/2 oz dried mint.
- 1-pint olive oil/pure vegetable oil.
- 1-1½ oz beeswax (for the ointment).
- Mix the mint with the oil.
- Heat gently, uncovered, for 1 hour.
- To make the oil, strain, bottle, and cap once the mixture is cold.
- To make the ointment, add the beeswax to the mixture while it heats. Let it cool down and then bottle.
You can use it both internally and externally.
- 1-2 teaspoon dried mint leaves/2-4 fresh mint leaves.
- 1 cup boiling water.
- Steep the mint in 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes.
- For external use, you’d better use a strong decoction.
If you want to drink mint tea several times a day, here you have another recipe and the dosage needed:
- 1 oz/20-30 g fresh mint leaves.
- ¼ gal boiling water.
- Pour the fresh leaves in the boiling water.
- Drink 18-24 fl oz (500-700 ml) per day in 2-3 doses.
You can use this tea for inhalation or external application too. If you apply it topically, use it 2-3 times a day.