Fresh mint has been used for thousands of years for its powerful healing qualities.
As for the garden of mint, the very smell of it alone recovers and refreshes our spirits.
Two easy-to-find varieties are spearmint (Mentha spicata) with its less pungent, sweeter flavor, and peppermint (Mentha piperita), which packs a more powerful punch.
Mints provide vitamin A, iron, and antioxidants. Adding chopped fresh leaves and tender stalks to salads, smoothies, and juices is a simple and delicious way to increase your intake of these nutrients.
Mint is often used to soothe indigestion and nausea thanks to its oil, which relaxes the smooth muscles surrounding the intestine. A warming mug of peppermint tea aids digestion, relieves an upset stomach, and soothes nerves.
Who doesn’t love the cooling taste and smell of minty breath? Simply chew on one or two tender leaves.
Simultaneously invigorating and relaxing, mint is perfect as a morning wake-me-up or an evening calm-me-down cuppa.
Fresh or dried, in balms or oils, mint offers effective relief for headaches, including migraines. It also serves as a gentle treatment for acne (thanks to its salicylic acid), and a natural way to ease stress and anxiety.
Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors and will thrive from October to April in a warm sunny window. Choose a healthy seedling from your local nursery, plant it in well-draining potting soil. Water thoroughly whenever the soil is dry and enjoy delicious mint all through the cold dark months of winter.
Chop or tear a generous handful of mint leaves and add to fresh fruit salads (strawberry and watermelon pair well with mint). Or toss mint leaves with fresh greens, tomatoes, and your favorite light dressing.
Add six to eight torn mint leaves along with several slices of cucumber to iced water.
Fancy a cup of afternoon delight tea? Steep 4 to 6 bruised mint leaves and a 1-inch sprig of lavender in hot (not boiling) water for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
Blend or mash together 8 to 12 mint leaves, 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, 2 to 3 slices cucumber, and 1 teaspoon honey (a mortar and pestle is perfect). Apply to the face for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
“Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: A randomized, double-blind, placebocontrolled, crossed-over study” by A. Borhani Haghighi et al., Int J Clin Pract, 3/10
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray ND ($39.95, Atria Books, 2005)
“Is mint good for you?” www.MedicalNewsToday.com
“The only thing that cured my cystic acne was (yes) spearmint tea” by Crystal Martin, www.NYMag.com, 2/21/18
Contributor: Lesley Hobbs