Mint

Latin name: Herba mentha
Chinese name: bo he

What is Mint?
Mint is a popular variety of flowering plants that grow across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America. It is easy to recognize with its characteristic aromatic scent and its square stem. When growing mint at home, remember that mints prefer and thrive in cool, moist spots in partial shade. In general, mint endures a wide range of conditions and it can also be grown in full sun. Because of its swift growth, one plant of each desired mint, along with a little care, will provide more than enough mint for home use. The most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). Mints tend to repel pest insects and attract beneficial ones in the garden. Spearmint and peppermint are good to grow among tomato and pepper plants, where they enhance flavor, repel aphids, and attract parasitic wasps that eat caterpillars.

What are the health benefits of Mint?
Mint tea has a cooling effect, is a strong diuretic, aids digestion, promotes gastrointestinal health, relieves gas, and calms irritability caused by stress. Mint is used to treat diarrhea and painful menstruation, promote sweating, and decrease body heat. Mint soothes sore throats, headaches, red eyes, and clears early-stage rashes. Both the leaves and the square-shaped stem are used. It is also taken as a means of stimulating the nervous system. The sharp flavor and scent of mint can be used as a mild decongestant for the common cold and phlegm in the upper respiratory tract. Studies have shown that mint can inhibit staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria and the herpes simplex virus. Research also shows that it facilitates the flow of mucus in the windpipe and can improve the absorption rates of salicylic acid, the main ingredient in aspirin.

Menthol from mint essential oil is used in medicine as a component of many drugs. Menthol is commonly used to relieve itching, especially for insect bites. Mint oil is also used as an environmentally friendly insecticide for its ability to kill pests such as ants, wasps, and cockroaches. Mint leaves are used to repel mosquitoes.

How do I prepare Mint to get the health benefits?
To make tea at home, pull mint leaves off of your plants or buy at the grocery store. Simply put the leaves in hot water and let them steep for 5 to 10. The fresh leaves should be used immediately or stored for up to a couple of days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Mint can be frozen in ice cube trays. Dried mint leaves should be stored in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, dry area.

Are there any precautions for taking Mint?
Nursing mothers are advised to use caution when consuming mint because it can reduce lactation.

Where can I find Mint?

Mint can be found in most grocery and health foods stores. It can also be found at outdoor markets in season.

You can find this herb combined with other herbs in the Traditions of Tao formulas:
Internal Cleanse, which helps the liver cleanse the body of toxins, balances the nervous system, and relaxes the mind.
Summer Tea, which is helpful for replenishing energy and fluid drained by the summer heat.

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This entry was posted in Herbs, Natural Health Dictionary.