By Larraine Roulston:
Mint contains source vitamins A, B-6, C, E and K; and minerals, including copper, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, which makes it amazing for eating and/or drinking, skin application and therapy. Its history goes back to ancient times. Dried peppermint leaves have been discovered in several Egyptian pyramids. Greek and Roman citizens used mint for herbal medicines, cooking and providing a scent.
This perennial herbal plant is one of the easiest to grow. What’s more, it multiplies in your garden, making it a good ground cover. By keeping it contained, you will still have plenty of leaves at your fingertips. A few mint leaves from your garden or balcony can be used to brew a pot of tea, or added to iced tea or a smoothie.
For culinary purposes, include a few mint leaves during the final two minutes when cooking peas, carrots, cauliflower or green beans. Stir chopped mint into meatballs. Add to soups, salads and curry recipes; make mint jelly or use it as a garnish. For dessert, stir 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint leaves into your chocolate chip cookie dough.
Mint helps fight many ordinary health issues. Its benefits include soothing an upset stomach, relieving discomfort caused by irritable bowels, helping to regulate your pulse and lower blood pressure, activating salivary glands and digestive enzymes, lessening the effects of depression, fighting cavity-causing bacteria as well as keeping breath smelling sweet, and helping to cure hiccups.
Inhaling peppermint steam has been known to ease sinus congestion, reduce nausea (including post chemotherapy-induced nausea), increase alertness, and improve memory.
As an essential oil, mint’s menthol compound offers a cooling pain relief to soothe tired muscles and feet, ease the sting of an insect bite, and lessen the effects of a sunburn. When applied to the temples, it will help relieve a headache.
Fresh mint is a powerful antioxidant which is valued for treating some allergies, infantile colic, tuberculosis, radiation damage, the pain of shingles, breast feeding discomfort, as well as lessening the spread of both prostate cancer and herpes.
There are a few cautions about its usage if you have or have had stomach inflammations such as ulcers or reflux, or gallstones. Do not take pure menthol internally. Do not apply mint oil to the faces of infants or toddlers. Avoid consuming mint if pregnant or breast feeding. Seek a doctor’s advice before using mint along with any medications you might be taking.
A few drops of mint in a homemade or purchased cleaning fluid or used in a potpourri will create a fragrant aroma. To use as a cleaning solution for floor tile, wood or concrete, mix a cup of white vinegar diluted in a gallon of water with 3 to 5 drops of essential mint oil.
Keep pets free of fleas by gathering 2 parts fresh spearmint, 1 part fresh thyme and 1 part fresh wormwood. Stuff inside a small pillow and place near your pet’s bed.
In your garden, mint will attract honey bees and other beneficial insects. If ants are entering your home, plant pennyroyal mint beside your doors or mix a solution of 10 parts water to one part peppermint essential oil, and apply around affected doors and windows.
As well as attracting pollinators, a sprig of mint from your garden requires no packaging or traveling. You can’t get more sustainable than that.
Larraine authors children’s adventure stories on composting and pollinating at www.castlecompost.com