Herb File: Mint

Mint: it’s not just for toothpaste.

Mint is an incredibly versatile herb that is easy to grow in your own garden, in fact you may have to keep it from spreading out into every patch of ground it can find. There are many different varieties of mint that are all delicious and useful. Check out your local garden store where you might even find exotic varieties like apple, pineapple, and ginger mints. For the purpose of this file, we’ll mostly be talking about basic varieties peppermint, spearmint, and corn mint, though you can explore and find which one you like best for taste and smell.

Mint leaves are very useful for hot weather since the main chemical component, menthol, lowers body temperature. Drinking or eating mint can produce a cooling sensation in your body on a hot day. Even rubbing crushed mint leaves against your pulse points can help relieve the feeling of being overheated, besides that, it will make you smell nice.

As aromatherapy, the fragrance of mint is refreshing and invigorating. When feeling sleepy and needing to focus, sometimes I’ll take a quick whiff of mint oil to revive myself. Drinking mint tea or smelling mint oil can also help clear block sinuses. It mixes well with eucalyptus to make a steam bowl, just add either mint and eucalyptus leaves or a few drops of their respective oils to a bowl, pour boiling water over top, and inhale. Don’t go too crazy with the mint, or  else you might feel a tingling sensation in your face.

The cooling sensation of mint can also make it a useful ingredient in soaps and salves for treating poison ivy and bug bites. Many “poison ivy” soaps have menthol in them which helps relieve the pain.

Mint is also the perfect addition to teas made with less tasty herbs. It’s gentle and helps digestion. The taste is strong enough to help mask the bitter and earthy flavors of feverfew, willow bark, and plenty of other herbs.

ImageMint is and will always be one of my favorite herbs because it’s so versatile and plentiful. It you have friends with mint, it’s easy enough to grow from cuttings or, as I did this year, grow from seeds. The seeds may be slow to start, but once they get started, they quickly spread and start spilling over their pots. They’re also easy to dry. Just take cuttings, tie them into small bundles and hang them upside down. I like to hang them in the closet, all of my clothing smells lovely then, especially if I’m dry lavender in the closet at the same time.


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