Mint, Mentha piperita ~ The Medicinal Uses of Mint
An herb I use regularly ! It smells great, is delicious in food and highly therapeutic!
The genus Mentha is named after the Greek nymph Minthe; piperita means sharply fragrant or flavoured. The name peppermint is due to this variety’s peppery flavour.
In early Palestine, mint was one of the accepted forms for tax payment.
Greeks and Athenians, in particular, believed mint to have the aroma of strength and they would rub leaves over their arms to bolster their endurance.
Mentha piperita oil was mentioned by Aristotle as an aphrodisiac, and the use of wild mint by soldiers of Alexander the Great was forbidden because he felt it so aroused them erotically that it took away all desire to fight.
The Romans spread mint on the floors during feasts, as the fragrant aroma was believed to cause humans to rejoice and incline them toward eating (plus, it had the added benefit of frightening away mice).
The Arabs have also used mint for centuries, partaking of mint tea as a social drink as well as a virility stimulant. The familiar after-dinner mints evolved from the ancient custom of concluding feasts with a sprig of mint to soothe the stomach.
Pluto, the god of the Greek underworld, fell in love with the beautiful nymph Minthe. His wife soon discovered the romantic affair and went into a fury, which culminated when she threw Minthe to the ground and stamped her to death. Although Pluto could not bring Minthe back to life, he changed her form into that of the fragrant plant.
Another tale relates the story of two strangers who were walking through Phrygia. Snubbed by the villagers, who offered them neither food nor drink, the two knocked at the humble house of Philemon and Baucis, and asked for food. The old couple quickly made them welcome and looked around for ways to enhance their plain environment.
Gathering some mint that was growing by the door, they used it to scrub the table and impart a sweet fragrance to the room. Upon serving their guests the food intended for their own meal, a radiance soon revealed the true identities of their guests – Zeus and Hermes.
The gods richly rewarded Philemon and Baucis for their hospitality, changing their home into a beautiful temple where priests were assigned to serve the humble pair for the rest of their lives.
Mentha piperita, dried : per 100g edible portion
- Calories 302
- Protein 24.8g
- Fat 5.4g
- Fiber 11.4g
- Calcium 1620 mg
- Iron 60mg
- Magnesium 661 mg
- Phosphorus 772 mg
- Potassium 2260 mg
- Sodium 195mg
- Zinc trace
- Manganese 6.10mg
- Beta Carotene (A) 39,579 IU
- Thiamin (B1) 1.210 mg
- Niacin (B3) 11.400 mg
- Ascorbic Acid (C) 20.1 mg
- Mentha piperita has beneficial effects on the nervous system
- relieves pain
- regulates the activity of the digestive system
- stimulates the appetite and gall bladder activity
- is carminative, with generally reviving effect
- It is refreshing and so makes a good substitute for tea.
- Mentha piperita is one of the great stimulant herbs and also acts as a marvellous anti-spasmodic
- It also strengthens the nerves and heart muscles
- assists in digestion, cleanses and gives tone to the entire body
- It is a soothing sedative for nervous and restless people of all ages, promoting relaxation and sleep.
- The oil is an excellent stomach aid.
- It is one of the best carminative agents available. It has a relaxing effect on the visceral muscles, anti-flatulent properties and stimulates bile and digestive juice secretion, and so can relieve intestinal colic, flatulent dyspepsia and other associated conditions.
- The volatile oil acts as a mild anaesthetic to the stomach wall, which helps to relieve the vomiting of pregnancy and travel sickness
- Mentha piperita plays a role in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
- It is most valuable in the treatment of fevers and especially colds and flu.
- As an inhalant, it can be used as a temporary treatment for nasal catarrh.
- Where migraine headaches are associated with the digestion, this herb may be used.
- As a nervine, it eases anxiety and tension.
- In painful periods, it relieves the pain and eases tension. Externally, it relieves itching and inflammations.
Uses in Western Medicine
- Colds, fevers ( all types)
- sore throat
- digestive upse
- nervous agitation
- nasal congestion
- allergic rhinitis
- indigestion and colic
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
- abdominal cramps
- biliary colic
- infantile colic
- pharyngitis, cholera
- colon trouble
- convulsions (children, babies)
- flatulence (stomach, bowels)
- menstrual obstructions
- nervous headache
- palpitation of the heart
- seasickness (prevent)
- spasms (stomach, bowels)
- Increases stomach acidity, aiding digestion.
- Slightly anaesthetizes mucous membranes and the gastro-intestional tract.
- useful for chills
- heart trouble
- irritable bowel syndrome
- poor appetite
- The fresh crushed leaves may be placed on the forehead to help relieve headaches.
- The herb is used to relieve spasms in the gastric system
- increases the production of digestive enzymes and bile
- improves appetite
- accelerates the motility of biliary ducts.
- Externally, it helps infected skin disorders
- and upper respiratory tracts
- Also applied externally, it helps reduce sensitivity in itching, smarting and painful skin disorders ( it has a cooling, soothing effect).
- Oil: used for burns, cholera morbus, colic, diarrhoea, dysentery, dysmenorrhoea, flatulence, heart palpitation, hiccups, inflammation, nausea, nervous headache, neuralgia, rheumatism, spasmodic pains, toothache, vomiting.
- Colds, flus, fevers, gas and mild digestive disorders.
- Produces sweating, helps reduce nasal, sinus congestion, cool-exterior releasing herb, hives, measles
- Regulates stomach and digestion – digestant – indigestion, heartburn, colic, griping, nausea, travel sickness.
- Calms, relaxes nervous system, reduces restlessness, helps sleep (weeaker infusion, if too strong, opposite effect), headaches (nervous and digestive), dizziness – stops fainting, lift depression & low moods ( lifts liver Chi)
- Regulates menstrual problems – irregular, lack of, painful periods e.g. nervousness and anxiety, balance/stimulate sex drive
- Cools and reduce pains and inflammation externally; insect bites, itching skin (topical application), infusion for vaginal puritis.
- Never boil the herb itself, as the medicinal principles are extremely volatile and contain much of the medicinal potency.
- Mentha piperita infusion is made by pouring boiling water over the herb, then cover and keep in a warm place for ten minutes, strain, sweeten and drink hot.
Pour a cup of boiling water onto a heaped teaspoon of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. This should be drunk as often as desired.
Scald 5g (1/5 oz) of dried leaves in 500ml (18 fluid ounces) water and take once a day.
Decoction as a gargle and mouth rinse
Scald 10g (2/5 oz) dreid leaves in 250ml (9 fluid ounces) water.
- Essence A few drops in water
- Extract 1 to 2 fluid teaspoons
- Infusion 1 to 2 cupfuls daily between meals. For children, take ¼ to ½ the adult dosage ( 1 teaspoonful to 1 tablespoonful diluted with equal parts of boiling water)
- Tincture ½ to 1 fluid teaspoon
Take 1 to 2 ml 3 times a day
Infusion 4g: 1 cup
Standard infusion of ½ to 6 grams
Infusion of 1.5 to 2 g of the prepared herb is administered 2 to 3 times daily.
NOTE: At therapeutic doses, Mentha piperita has no harmful side effects. Higher doses of menthol or essential oil may have toxic effects ( particularly in children who are more sensitive), manifested by vomiting, spasms and unco-ordinated movements (ataxia). Some patients may be allergic to menthol.
- Contra-indicated for individuals with an extremely low metabolism, complaining of coldness when no fever is present.
- Contra-indicated for individuals whose superficial symptoms of cold, flu or fever have progressed beyond the first stages.
- Severe chills, neurasthenia
- Therapeutic doses must not be exceeded during pregnancy and lactation.
- The tea should not be drunk exclusively, as with long-term use, it irritates the kidneys.
- May interfere with it iron absorption
- Should not be used by nursing mothers
- Do not ingest pure menthol or pure Mentha piperita leaves
Make Smarter Health Choices. Consciously. Deliberately. Actively.
© Helen Chow, Herbalist
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