Common Name: Peppermint | Scientific Name: Mentha Piperita

Family: Labiatae

RESOURCES

Part used

In a word

Uses

QUICK REVIEW

History and Traditional Uses

Dosage and Duration
Dosage and Duration
Fact Sheet 1
Fact Sheet 2
Chapter from Backyard Medicine Chest
Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible
Chapter from Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life
Chapter from Gardening Book
Dosage and Duration

Dosage and Duration

Peppermint is used by many cultures as a daily tea-tonic to keep their digestive tracts in fine shape. Suffice it to say, it can be used long term and to date no one has reported ill effects from doing so. To improve digestive function it should be used three times a day before meals.

Dried peppemint: one teaspoon in one cup of boiling water.

Peppermint tincture1:5 one teaspoon(5ml)

Peppermint tincture 1:1 20 drops
Fact Sheet 1
Peppermint

Scientific Name: Mentha piperita

Part used: Leaf

In a word: Kick Starts the Digestive System

Uses: Indigestion

It appears that just about everybody gets heartburn. In 1992, Americans spent 752 million dollars on digestives and 825 million dollars on antacids. In Britain, people spent 79 million pounds on the same over-the-counter preparations. On the prescription side of things, the picture is even grimmer. Take a look at some of the top-selling drugs prescribed for people whose upset stomachs have gotten to the point that nonprescription medications no longer work:

Zantac – 1.89 billion dollars Tagamet – 620 million dollars

Prilosec – 580 million dollars Pepcid – 481 million dollars

Axid – 330 million dollars Carafate – 160 million dollars

What is even more staggering is the fact that the figures are growing every year. Before long, the whole world will have to take pills to eat! Obviously, something is radically wrong.

There are three sorts of indigestion. The first is caused by a digestive system that doesn’t work very well. Some people end up with indigestion every time they put food in their mouths. They were born with a badly performing digestive tract. The second sort of indigestion is caused by eating something that disagrees with your system, say when you are traveling and your stomach has a run in collision with the local cuisine. The third sort is caused by eating something that you know disagrees with you. Not everything agrees with everybody; some people can eat Mexican food, for example, and others can’t. The amazing thing is that many of them go ahead and do it anyway.

Let’s start with the third sort of indigestion, as this is one of my pet peeves. I am acquainted with an endless list of men and women who knowingly eat food that upsets their stomachs. There is nothing wrong with their stomachs – the problem is with their heads or lack thereof. If you eat food that you know is going to upset your stomach, you can consider yourself a candidate for admission into this club of morons.

People with the first sort of indigestion, on the other hand, have my full sympathy. There are different theories as to why this problem, which tends to run in families, occurs, but it is likely due to the insufficient production of some sort of necessary digestive juice or the overproduction of another. The list of potential reasons for chronic indigestion is long – poor construction of the stomach, overly active nerves, and many other factors. People who have had their gall bladders removed suffer from chronic upset stomachs for similar reasons – an imbalance of the necessary digestive juices.

The second sort just happens from time to time. There are occasions when you eat something that just doesn’t sit well. You, too, have my sympathy, and for you, I’ve got great news: there is an herb that will help you out with your problem. Indeed, for all three sorts of indigestion, peppermint will help.

The plant we will use to treat indigestion is not like the medication we purchase over the counter or by prescription. Antacids and stomach tranquilizers merely mask the problem, and in fact, they often create new ones. When you take an antacid, it neutralizes stomach acids. The trouble is, those acids are there for a reason: to digest your food. If you are already having a digestive disturbance, the last thing you want to do is disturb the balance even more my introducing chemicals into the system. With stomach tranquilizers, all you are doing is easing the pain or halting the production of stomach acids. The problem that caused the pain is still down in your belly. You just can’t feel it. With both treatments, the reason your stomach is upset in the first place is never addressed. This is great for doctors and drug companies who would just as soon have you come back for another prescription, but it is not so great for your or your stomach. With peppermint, we will depart from this symptom-treating business and attack the causes of your indigestion.

You may have noticed that almost all nonprescription acid-stomach preparations are mint flavored. Sure, mint has a nice taste, but that’s not the reason it is there. Mint is one of the oldest treatments for indigestion going, and its inclusion to this day in pharmaceutical formulas is due to the plant’s ability to settle problem stomachs. The Lewis Materia Medica published in 1799 recommends peppermint:

For flatulent colics, languor, hysterical affections, retchings and other dyspeptic symptoms, acting as a cordial and often producing immediate relief, from its stomachic, antispasmodic and carminative qualities. It seems to act as soon as taken, and extend its effect through the whole system, instantly communicating a glowing warmth. Water extracts of the whole pungency of this herb by infusion.

You will note that the plant is said to have an immediate impact on the stomach, much like a tranquilizer or antacid. The difference is that mint takes care of the problem at hand and works to improve the overall functioning of the stomach as well. It doesn’t hurt in the process of helping, and in the case of chronic indigestion, it will strengthen the stomach so it can digest food properly in the future.

What we call mint is really any number of plants belonging to the Labiatae family, all of which produce the characteristic minty scent when the leaves are crushed. The most medicinal of the mints is Mentha piperita , peppermint, and when you are looking for mint to use for the stomach, make sure you specify peppermint .

Originally native to the Mediterranean region, the plant can be found all over the planet due to its voracious growing habits and its usefulness to humankind. Though stomach abuse is currently at an all-time high, poor eating habits have been a problem throughout human history, and mint’s medicinal use predates the Bible. The ancient Romans carried it with them wherever thy colonized; the relief it offered was much needed at the end of an orgy. To this day, the Arabians brew it into tea and chop it into salads, the Asian Indians include it in chutney recipes, the British make its juice into jellies to be served with heavy meat dishes, and the Germans, famous for their light cuisine, concoct it into schnapps as an after-dinner drink. In all these cases, the motive for including mint in the diet is to improve digestion and avoid indigestion.

If you look at peppermint’s medicinal actions, you will see that it is indeed an all-purpose indigestion treatment. The list of ways in which peppermint improves the stomach’s functioning is so long that it could make a book in itself. I think a ninth-century monk put it best when he said: “If you wish to enumerate completely all the virtues, kinds, and names of mint, you would be capable of saying how many fish swim in the Red Sea.” Its actions are carminative (antigas), anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiemetic (preventing vomiting), nervine (soothing to the nerves), antimicrobial, and last but not least analgesic or painkilling. With all these actions working together, the result is an end to your misery.

Stomach upset is often due to muscle spasms in the digestive tract that cause discomfort and pain, and chemicals contained in peppermint have the ability to relax these muscles. Oils in the plant act as an anesthetic to the lining of the stomach walls, thus deadening the tissues’ sensitivity to the acids naturally present. This anesthetic quality helps to quell the urge to vomit, which is caused by nerves in the stomach. The antimicrobial elements will knock out bacteria if that is the source of your discomfort.

As we have already learned, the digestive tract is wildly impacted by the nervous system. In some cases, this close association so necessary to life can turn around and bite us in the butt, and a disturbance in our emotional life can equally disturb our digestive life. Chemicals contained in peppermint sooth the nerves that innervate the stomach so that the pain and discomfort we feel goes away.

Most importantly, peppermint facilitates digestion by stimulating the secretion of bile and digestive juices that break down the food we eat. If these juices are not produced sufficiently, or if there has been an abnormally large intake of food, undigested food can begin to decay in the stomach, which doesn’t feel great. A cup of mint tea will get the digestive juices flowing and doing their job so that the food can move on down the line. When you have indigestion, the last thing you want to do is neutralize stomach acids – without them, your food can’t be properly processed.

If you know that you are heading into a stressful situation, make yourself a thermos full of mint tea. Start drinking it before the scene starts and keep on drinking it all the way through. This tip comes from my sister who always brings her antacids with her on trips to her in-laws’ house. She starts taking them half an hour before the visit starts and keeps at it until she is on her way home. Some day I hope to get her off the chewables and onto peppermint (my zeal for the natural is not a genetic thing). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Isn’t that how the saying goes?

When it comes to indigestion and all the millions of people who suffer from it, we again see the extent to which we have departed from natural living. There is nothing more natural than eating, and it simply shouldn’t hurt. In 1920, Dr. Rollo Thomas observed:

The most common causes of acute gastritis are errors in diet or method of eating. We live in an age where competition is strong and travel at a pace incompatible with health. The business man hurries through his meal, only partially masticating his food, and washing it down with large quantities of fluid. Children catch the infection, and hurry through meals in order to reach school or resume play, and this continued rush of American life is productive in a high degree of stomach disorders.

That was 75 years ago, and the pace of life certainly hasn’t gotten any slower as we approach the year 2000.

People who suffer from chronic indigestion might want to adopt a more relaxed lifestyle before resorting to any drugs, natural or otherwise. Remember, a poorly function digestive tract may have serious consequences later on down the road, as in you might not live to spend all that money you are working so hard to retire on!
Practitioners’ Advice

Before we get into this too far, let me repeat myself. Eating foods that upset your stomach is stupid. All those advertisements on TV telling you that you can abuse yourself by eating foods that do not agree with you, take a medicine, and have it all better are lies. Those miracle drugs are simply covering up your abuse. There is a price to pay for abusing your body and it is an expensive one. Clean up your act before thinking about using peppermint.

Practically speaking, there are two instances when peppermint is used. The first is in chronic indigestion. In this case , it works when you use it on a regular basis and when you flood the gut with it. If you can keep peppermint tea around and make certain that you have at least three cups a day, great. Otherwise, you are better off using peppermint tincture. You can keep a little bottle in your bag or brief case and give yourself a dose three times a day, wherever you are. In the case of the occasional digestive drama, the peppermint should be used three times a day while you are feeling upset and should be continued for a week following the symptoms disappearing. A little time spent undoing any damage that may have been done is time well spent.

QUICK REVIEW
History:
Digestive stimulant of choice from the Greek days forward

Science: Contains compounds that increase gastric secretion

Practitioners’ opinion: Ideal when digestion is sluggish

Directions: Tincture (1:5, 45% alcohol): 2.5ml three times daily after meals
Fact Sheet 2

Peppermint

Menta piperita

Parts Used: Leaves

Remember this : Digestive Aid

Reasonable uses : nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sluggish digestion, digestive insufficiency, slow digestion of the elderly and the infirmed, discomfort of over eating.

History and Traditional Uses

With its sharply aromatic scent and handsome, dark green leaves, peppermint’s specific stomach-soothing and gas-suppressing powers have a long history. In medieval Europe, mint jellies aided diners ingesting heavy meats at banquets. In the Arab world, mint tea is favored as an after-dinner drink. One seventeenth-century English herbalist praised peppermint as a remedy for “nausea, retchings, and looseness.” In North America, the Cherokee took it for vomiting, colic, and gas. At the turn of the century, doctors prescribed peppermint to stop nausea and vomiting, ease stomach cramps and indigestion.

Scientific Back Up

Peppermint leaves carry menthol-rich volatile oils as well as tannins and bitters. Research has revealed this triad of compounds form a digestion improving cocktail that only nature could devise. Its oils sedate unhappy digestive tract nerves and reduce the shipment of nausea impulses to the brain. The tannins reduce any inflammation that might be present in the gut. The bitters increase the production of the digestive juices necessary to process food thoroughly and efficiently.

In a nutshell, peppermint is a one stop shopping digestive tonic.

Herbalists use it to………..
Speed digestion after a pig out
The problem with over eating is the body has a hard time producing enough digestive juice to process all of the food we dump into the gut. The result, food sits there forever waiting to be processed. This creates unpleasant sensations. Herbalists recommend peppermint to increase digestive juice production and thus food is processed more efficiently.
Improve weak digestion

People who over produce digestive acid get all the attention. Commercials on television, one after the next, selling products to the human acid factories. But what about the under achievers, the people who do not produce enough digestive juices? Are there any products for them? Herbalists would say yes, there are products for those who do not produce enough digestive juice and one such product is peppermint. Peppermint can be used by those who suffer from chronically sluggish digestion caused by poor digestive enzyme production!

Treat childhood queaziness
What do you do when a child feels slightly naseous? Herbalists recommend a cup of sweetened mint tea. Most children who enjoy the taste and it is often just the medicine a child needs when his or her “tummy is feeling funny”.

Dosage and Duration

Peppermint is used by many cultures as a daily tea-tonic to keep their digestive tracts in fine shape. Suffice it to say, it can be used long term and to date no one has reported ill effects from doing so. To improve digestive function it should be used three times a day before meals.

Dried peppemint: one teaspoon in one cup of boiling water.

Peppermint tincture1:5 one teaspoon(5ml)

Peppermint tincture 1:1 20 drops
Shopping Tips

Peppermint is readily available at the grocery store tea section and health food shops. If you are unable to make tea, think about using a ncture. It is equally effective and can be carried in a brief case. Avoid products containing other herbs.
Warnings

•  Considered very safe.

•  If a food upsets your stomach, stop eating it. Using peppermint to cover up the fact your stomach does not like a certain food is asking for trouble.

•  Bad eating ruins health. Do not use peppermint to enable your bad eating habits.

Alternatives

Chamomile(Matricaria recutitia)


Chapter from Backyard Medicine Chest

Mint

Great balls of Fire in my gut

Indigestion….Acid Burps……Heartburn……Stomach pain…..

Mentha piperita

Its really hard to be pleasant when your stomach feels like its got red hot coals floating around in it. Invariably when find yourself bent over in stomach pain caused by indigestion, someone calls you with a stupid question and all you want to do is scream, ” I cant talk to you now, I am dying at the moment.” Indigestion is truly a horrible thing to have and nobody likes to stay in that state for very long.

Our next set of snappy figures emphasizing how much of a problem digestive upset is are truly shocking. In America people shopping for over the counter drugs spent 752 million dollars on digestives and 825 million dollars on antacids. In Britain people spent 79 million pounds on the same preparations. On the prescription side of things it’s even grimmer. Have a gander at some of the top selling drugs prescribed for people who’s upset stomachs have gotten to the point that the over the counter no longer works.

Xantac 1.89 billion dollars

tagamet 620 million dollars

prilosec 580 million dollars

pepcid 481 million dollars

axid 330 million dollars

carafate 160 million dollars

As I said, the figures are staggering and in fact most indigestion drugs are considered to be quite hot in future prospects, each year more and more people suffer from indigestion, and purchase more drugs to resolve their acid burps. The figures continue to rise and before long the whole world will have to take pills to eat food. There is something radically wrong with this picture.

In reality there are three sorts of indigestion a person can have. The first form is caused by to a digestive system doesn’t work that well. Some people simply dont digest food that well and every time they put food into their mouths they end up with indigestion. This tends to run in families. The second form is caused by over eating or accidentally eating something that disagrees with your system. Say you are on holiday and you eat a local dish and your stomach and the local cuisine get into a head on collision. The third form is one that you cause yourself by eating foods you know full and well will upset your stomach. Not all foods agree with all people, some can eat mexican food and others cant. The amazing bit is the fact that many people continue to eat foods that are a guaranteed to give them indigestion.

Lets start with indigestion that people cause themselves as this is one of my pet peeves. I know an endless list of people that knowingly eat food that upsets their stomachs. They know it upsets their stomach, every time they eat it they end up with heartburn or cramps. There is nothing wrong with their stomach, the problem is with their heads or lack thereof. They are fools, and if you eat food that you know is going to upset your stomach, you can consider yourself a candidate for admission into this club of morons. Pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you dont use the sense god gave you. Eating food that is guaranteed to give you gut rot is beyond dumb and you deserve whatever pain it causes. If you indigestion is caused by eating foods that dont “sit well” with you, you don’t need a drug, you need a brain transplant.

The second category of folks are those that just suffer from poor digestion and this tends to run in families. There are different theories as to why this happens, its likely to be an insufficient production of some sort of digestive juice responsible for breaking down the food. When the food isn’t broken down efficiently it hangs out in and around the guts a little too long and this causes indigestion. As well people that have had some surgeries like a gall bladder removal have chronic upset stomachs for the same reason, lack of the necessary digestive juices. The third category is what I call Thanksgiving syndrome. There are occasions when we over eat or eat something new and it just doesn’t sit well. In these two cases you have my sympathy and there is a great herb that will help you out with the problem. The plant will also help people that lack common sense and eat foods that always upsets their stomach.

The plant we will use to treat indigestion is most unlike the medication we purchase over the counter and indeed get from prescription medicines. Antacids and stomach tranquilizers alike merely mask the problem and in fact they create new ones. When you take an antacid it neutralizes the acids found in the stomach meant to be there to digest the food. Acid is not a bad thing in the least, its there for a reason. If you are already having a digestive disturbance the last thing you want to do is disturb the balance a little more by introducing chemicals into it that would never normally be there. Similarly with stomach tranquilizers, all you are doing is covering up the problem with drugs. The problem that caused the pain is still down in your belly, you just cant feel it. With both treatments of indigestion the reason the stomach was upset in the first place is never touched. This is great for doctors and drug companies, if they solved the problem you wouldn’t be coming back for another prescription. With mint we will depart from this symptom treating business and go on the attack to the real problems that result in indigestion.

You may have noticed that almost all acid stomach preparations available over the counter are mint flavored. You may have thought this was due to the fact that mint is a nice flavor. Wrong. Mint is one of the oldest treatments for indigestion going and its inclusion to this day in pharmaceutical formulas is due to the plants ability to settle a problem stomach. In the Lewis Materia Medica published in 1799 the following is said of Peppermint, ” For flatulent colics, languor, hysterical affections, retchings and other dyspeptic symptoms, acting as a cordial and often producing immediate relief, from its stomachic, antispasmodic and carminative qualities. It seems to act as soon as taken , and extend its effect through the whole system, instantly communicating a glowing warmth. Water extracts of the whole pungency of this herb by infusion.”

You will note the plant is said to have an immediate impact on the stomach, much like a tranquilizer or antacid. The difference is that mint takes care of the problem at hand and as well works to improve the over all functioning of the stomach. It doesn’t hurt in the process of helping and in the case of chronic indigestion it will strengthen the stomach so it can digest food properly in the future.

What we call mint is really any number of plants belonging to the labiatae family- all of which produce the characteristic mint scent when the leaves are crushed. The common scent is the product of scent glands located on the leaves of the plant, some types of mint produce more oils than others and some an oil of a higher quality. The most medicinal of the mints is mentha piperita, peppermint, and when you are looking to use mint for the stomach make sure you specify that you want peppermint .

The plant can be found growing on every continent on the planet, though originally native to the mediterranean region it has spread world wide due to its voracious growing habit and its ability to settle the stomach. Though stomach abuse is at an all time high, at various moments in human history poor eating habits have been a problem. The Romans, the original pleasure pigs carried mint with them where ever they colonized as the relief it offered was much needed at the end of a dinner party/orgy. The Arabians drink its tea and chop it into salads, the Asian Indians include it in chutney recipes, the British make jellies of its juice to be served along with heavy meat dishes, and the Germans, famous for their light cuisine concoct schnapps as an after dinner drink. Please note that all these cultures include mint into the diet to improve digestion and avoid indigestion. Universally mint is used to settle the stomach a use that predates the bible.

If you look at the actions peppermint has to offer you will see that it is truly the all purpose indigestion treatment. The list of ways in which it improves the functioning of the stomach is so long it could be a book in its own right. I think a ninth century monk put it best when he said the following, ” If you wish to enumerate completely all the virtues, kinds, and names of mint, you would be capable of saying how many fish swim in the Red Sea.” What more can an herbalist say. Its actions include carminative(anti-gas), anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-emetic(anti-vomiting), nervine(sooths the nerves), anti-microbial, and last but not least analgesic, or pain killing. When you have all these actions working together the end result is an end to your misery.

Chemicals contained in the plant have the ability to relax the muscles of the digestive system, upset stomach is often caused by the muscle spasms in the tract which causes discomfort and pain. Oils contained in the plant act as a anesthetic to the lining of the stomach walls, thus deadening sensitivity to the acids present. This anaesthetic quality helps to relieve the urge to vomit, which is caused by nerves in the stomach! The anti-microbial elements will knock out bacteria if that is indeed the source of our discomfort.

As we have already learned the digestive tract is wildly impacted by the nervous system as it is so cleverly hooked into it. In some cases this close association that makes us stay alive can turn around and bite us in the ass. A disturbance in our emotional life can equally disturb our digestive life. An emotional upset can fry our nerves and suddenly the stomach is over producing acid-and then we have heart burn. Chemicals contained in the plant sooth the nerves and with the nerves soothed the stomach relaxes and the pain and discomfort we feel goes away.

Most importantly peppermint facilitates digestion and it does this by stimulating the secretion of bile and digestive juices. Many times indigestion is caused by food sitting in the gut for too long. The food swallowed has to be broken down into smaller bits and this is done by chemicals released by the stomach itself and related organs. If there is insufficient production of such juices or an abnormally large intake of food, food sits in the stomach and begins to decay, which causes indigestion. A cup of mint tea will get the digestive juices flowing and digesting the food so it can move on down along the line. When you have indigestion the last thing you want to do is neutralize the stomach acids-without them the food cant be properly processed.

With the plant growing in the garden you will have all the upset stomach medicine you could ever use or need right on hand. The ideal way of using the drug is in the fresh state and all one has to do is run out into the garden and grab a handful, that is as long as the plant is above ground. The plant disappears back into the ground in the winter and due to this you will need to put some mint up for winter use. The active constituents in mint are delicate and they will actually disappear if not stored properly. As such my manner of preserving the herb for winter use is as follows. Get a coffee can and keep it in the freezer. Every so often, when the mood hit, go out and cut all your mint down to the ground and take the plants to the kitchen table and sit down. Strip the leaves off the stems and place them in the freezer in the coffee can. When you have indigestion you simply take a few teaspoons of frozen leaves out of the freezer and make some tea.

As we have already established nerves can cause indigestion and if you know you are heading into a stressful situation, make you a thermos full of mint tea and start drinking before the scene starts and keep on drinking all the way through. This tip comes from my sister who always brings her antacids to visits to her in laws house. She starts half an hour before the visit starts and keeps at until she is driving home. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Isn’t that how that goes?

When it comes to indigestion and all the millions of people that suffer from it we again see the extent to which we have departed from natural living. There is nothing more natural than eating , it simply shouldn’t hurt There has been a steady rise in indigestion that corresponds to the hastening pace at which we now live, the faster we move the more indigestion we have. “The most common cause of acute gastritis are errors in diet or method of eating. We live in an age where competition is strong and travel at a pace incompatible with health. The business man hurries through his meal, only partially masticating his food, and washing it down with large quantities of fluid. Children catch the infection , and hurry through meals in order to reach school or resume play, and this continued rush of American life is productive in a high degree of stomach disorders. ” Rollo Thomas, Md. 1920

Rollo noticed 75 years ago that life pace was taking its toll on the digestive process and things moving a lot faster as we approach the year 2,000 than they were when this physician was writing. People with chronic indigestion need to examine the pace at which they live and slow things down. They might want to try a slower lifestyle on before resorting to taking drugs to cover up faulty living. Remember a healthy digestive process mean you will live- a poorly functioning one may have serious consequences later on down the road. As in you might not live to spend all that money you are working to retire on.

Prescription:

chronic indigestion: two teaspoons mint leaves+ added to one cup boiling water+ let stand for ten minutes+ strain+ drink. Three times per day.

or 2ml tincture + added to one cup of water + three times per day.

occasional indigestion:

two tablespoons mint leaves+ added to one cup boiling water+ let stand for ten minutes+ strain+ drink as many cups as you want until the stomach ache goes away.

2ml tincture + added to one cup water + one every hour

Getting your herb:

1. Buy it at the health food store.

2. Grow it yourself. If you have any gardening space what so ever there is no reason not to produce your own mint. It is such a voracious grower that some people plant it in pots and then submerge the pots in the garden to keep the runners from running all over the place. If you plan to use mint for stomach problems the object is to produce as much as possible so you can harvest as much as is possible. There are hundreds of varieties of mint and because you want to use peppermint, mentha piperita, you need to purchase the plants from a reliable source, such as a mail order nursery that specializes in medicinal herbs. You can get a cutting from a friend as long as you are reasonable sure the plant you are getting is peppermint. With you cutting in hand you can plant your mint just about any where in any soil, there could be no more forgiving a plant. It will take full sun and will even grow in a shady location. When it comes to harvesting mint the oils are at their highest amounts just before the plant blooms, bear this in mind.

Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible

Mint

Mentha longifolia

Labiatae

Matthew 23:23 Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy of faith, these you ought to have done, without neglecting others.

Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, pharisees. For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgement and the love of god.

Ah, it’s that quote from Matthew again! You ought to have that one memorized by now. Mint is a common Middle Eastern plant, in fact it is a common world plant. Anyone that has ever kept a garden knows why tithing with mint would not have impressed a passerby. Here we see those Pharisees and Scribes up to their old trick of paying their tithe with a Holy Land equivalent of dirt. Not only were they tithing with inexpensive items, they abusing their authority. The abuse of power is listed in these lines as being a serious offense.

I was thinking about this line and the message contained within it as I turned on the news recently. There was a man being interviewed, a man that was passing himself off as a man of God. The guy was a minister and he had a few things that he wanted to share with the world. Hate. The hate that came spilling out this persons mouth was stunning. Like the scribes, he had put himself in a position of authority. He called himself a minister. The Bible, through and through, tells us that our chief responsibility is to practice and spread love. Unconditional love shared unconditionally. People who associated themselves with God, and spread hate, are like the scribes tithing with mint. All I have to say is, Woe unto you hating ministers. Like the scribes and the Pharisees, you are asking for trouble.

Getting away from television and back to the matter on hand, Mint. Though not worthy of a tithe, mint was a very popular plant in the Holy Land . It is called becaim in Hebrew and can be found growing anywhere moisture trickles through that arid country. It has big succulent leaves that lose a lot of moisture. As a result of its moisture loosing leaves it needs a constant supply of water.

There are as many different mints as there are days in the year. The Israeli mint, Mentha longifolia, is a whopper. It can reach three feet without any struggle. In Hortus the Third, a botanical listing of the species of plants, we find 25 species of mint. The mint plants are a bit randy in nature and the different species interbreed with ease. The end result being thousands of mint varieties. All mints have something in common, whether they are tall, short, shinny leaved or fuzzy leaved, they have a minty smell.

Members of the mint family contain a volatile oil called menthol which gives this group of plants its characteristic odour. Ancient man did not have a hard time establishing this herbal medicine as being of interest. The minty oil, menthol, is produced on the surface of the leaves. A casual brush into the plant releases the smell, really the oil, into the air. Even the most dense cave man would have picked up on this plant. From the earliest date, mint was used by man as spice and as medicine. The Egyptians, Israelites, Greeks, and Romans all used and loved the plant. The smell attracted ancient man.

I hope to be remembered by the following saying. “The good old days smelled bad, really bad.” People talk about wanting to put the clock back to the good old days are clearly working with, as they say in England , a few sandwiches short of a full picnic. In the good old days, people only bathed occasionally and smelled like a modern street person. Places of worship smelled so bad they had to cover the floors with mint to make a worship experience bearable. Incense was a part of the service for more than one reason and odour management was one. The modern age comes with its problems, but at least you don’t gag when you go to pray. The Ancient synagogues were carpeted with mint to keep people from passing out from the smells produced by the faithful!

In that mint was so readily noticed by ancient man, it is referred to in many ancient texts. We already know the Israelites mentioned it. In classical Greek mythology, a legend holds that the nymph Mintho was turned into a mint plant by Prosperine, a wife of Pluto. Pluto was god of the underworld and had an eye for the sweet young thing Mintho. The feeling may have been mutual. Prosperine, wife with a possessive streak, was not having any of that, and she turned the girl into a plant destined to be called “common” for all days to come. I think Prosperine might have been wise to turn her man into a dog while she was at it.

In Middle East , Menta spicata, Mentha villosa, and Mentha suaveole are all used in medicine and, of course, they have the same characteristic smell and action of the other mints in the world. Throughout the Middle East mints are used to settle the digestion and to improve the functioning of the gut.

The inhabitants of Asia minor , the Israelites included, saw mint as the supreme refresher of the body, and they should know, they dealt with hot dry weather on a daily basis. This is still the case today. The hot cups of mint tea served to me on my trip to the Bedouin camps were served for this reason, it peps up weary travellers. Middle Easterners feel this applies to people suffering from the flu and from a nasty cold. The Arabians use mint as a vegetable, said to bring on vigour and, in fact, a salad made of mint is thought to be a fairly powerful aphrodisiac.

The Middle Eastern physicians recommended the plant for stomach problems. In an English book written in 849 AD we see this thought carried on a little farther north. Language, like everything else, changes. When you see what English was like 800 years ago this point will become quite clear. “Mynte drunken helpeth the digest, comforteth the stomach and stauncheth vomite and sleeth the worms in the bely.” In other words, Mint helps digestion, comforts the stomach, stops vomiting, and kills worms.

The tradition of serving after dinner minths is as old as snow and started because mint improves the digestion. The Prehistoric Roman cooking guru, Marcus Gabius Apicus, who wrote about cooking between 14-37 AD, was bananas about mint. Every page of his book has mint printed on its paper. I think the man ate, drank, and dreamt mint. This was quite common in the ancient world. And I am not talking about mint being used as a little garnish on the corner of the plate. It was a vegetable more than it was a flavouring. Modern American cooks drop a few sprinkles in a recipe. The ancients went out and pulled a bucket full and started chopping. The salad tabouli, made with equal parts mint, parsley, spring onions, and bulgur wheat, is typical of how mint was formerly used. Its delicate leaves were used the way we use lettuce.

It is able to improve digestion because of the chemicals contained in its leaves. You already know that there are 25 species of mint and innumerable hybrids between these species. Each mint species, or hybrid, has a slightly different smell as a result of having its own unique combination of volatile oils. Peppermint is 50% menthol, 30% menthone, 10% menthyl acetate, and 10% assundry oils. Spearmint is 75% carvone, with dihydrocarvone, phellandrene, limonene, and menthol in smaller amounts. When you cross these two plants you get children that have their own individual combinations of oil. The common denominator in all mints, regardless of their chemical make up, is a minty smell, and this is due to the predominance of menthol.

Mint also contains tannins and bitters. The combination of volatile oil, bitter, and tannin make this a heavenly inspired digestive aid. The volatile oils act as sedatives to the nerves and muscles of the digestive tract. If there is any pain going on down there, it will be lessened with a cup of mint tea. The tannins work to tighten up the tissue of the gut and to make it less sensitive to pain. You know after a larger than normal meal, you tend to feel a little sick? This is because the body is having a hard time processing all the food sitting in the stomach. The food processors are stomach acids, pancreatic enzymes, and bile from the liver. The bitters in mint increase the production of these substances which means that the body processes the food faster than it would normally. The overloaded stomach gets emptied faster.

Is that not enough? Let me give you an additional list of mint’s actions.

1. Mint is antimicrobial due to its volatile oil.

2. Mint extracts are anti-viral, specifically against New Castle disease, Herpes simplex, Vaccinia, Semliki Forest , and West Nile Virus.

3.Mint acts as spasmolytics on smooth muscle.

4. Azulene found in the plants is anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the plant is the anti-ulcerative properties attributed to the Azulene it contains. What anti-ulcerative means is that it speeds the healing of tissue, it helps tissue to knit up. When you wear a new pair of shoes blisters often result. These blisters make it hard to wear any shoes for a few days. The lining of the gut is quite similar to the skin, though it doesn’t get blisters, it gets abraded and sore just the same. When you have had a bout of vomiting, the stomach is a little bruised, and it takes some time for it to heal, just like the back of your foot. Mint takes the discomfort away and speeds healing process!

Having worked with patients, I already know what you are thinking. “I should eat “mints” when I have an upset stomach.” Wrong. The amazing thing about herbal medicines is the whole plant always works better than parts taken out of it and used separately. Mints are flavoured with menthol and menthol alone. Menthol is an anaesthetic, it dulls pain, but nothing more. The whole mint extraction, as in mint tea, contains all the other chemicals that are responsible for the healing mint offers. If you want to use mint to heal a bruised digestive system, you have to use the whole herb made into tea. No easy way around this one.

Because I love to quote Doctors that used herbal medicines, we will quickly look at what some medical authorities from the past had to say about our common little plant. Dr.Fyfe, writing in 1911 said this, ” Indications: (when to use) Abdominal and gastric pains accompanying flatulence, cholera morbus, and diarrhoea; nervous disturbances caused by difficult digestion. Locally the oil is indicated in neuralgic headaches, rheumatic affections, and tooth ache. Mentha piperita is antispasmodic, carminative, diffusive stimulant, and stomachic.” Remember I said that peppermint oil was a pain killer? Not only does it dull pain in the stomach, it will also dull a headache when applied to the head or an aching muscle or joint. In this case, you want to use the pure essential oil of peppermint as you are only looking for a pain killer.

One of my favourite physicians, Dr.Scudder, was so kind as to leave us an even more detailed description on how to use the plant.” Peppermint is an aromatic stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic, and diaphoretic. It is one of the most grateful of the aromatic stimulants, and is much used to expel flatus, obviate nausea, and relieve spasmodic pains in the stomach and bowels, and to disguise the taste and correct the nauseating or griping effects of other medicines. For purposes of this kind, few articles equal and none surpass it. It is an efficacious carminative and stomachic, and as such is employed with benefit in gastrodynia, flatulent colic, spasmodic and griping pains in the stomach and bowels, etc. As an adjuvant or corrigent, it is highly esteemed for rendering less pleasant medicines acceptable to the stomach.

In cases of extreme irritability of the stomach, an infusion, or a few drops of its essence, often abates the nausea and hence its use in cholera morbus, cholera infantum, and even in spasmodic cholera. The green herb bruised and applied over the epigastrium at the same time will prove a valuable auxiliary, its action is much aided by wetting it with spirits, or in some cases, laudanum. A strong infusion, taken warm, constitutes an excellent stimulating diaphoretic in colds and the early stages of febrile and inflammatory diseases.”

I would not want to finish our discussion of mint without hearing from our modern practitioners. Stuart Fitzsimmons said this of mint, ” Its the carminative of herbal medicine and an a anti-emetic excellent in vomiting. When you have that nauseous feeling from a stomach bug or from food poisoning, mint tea will relieve the sensation. I suggest one teaspoonful of dried mint leaves in cup of hot water be taken when you starting to feel sick with a digestive bug. It can be taken as often as you like.”

Joseph Nasr said this, “Mint is used as a carminative, or anti-flatulent. Nothing works better for wind than this plant. It works by stimulating the gallbladder to deliver bile on a timely basis to the digestive tract which insures quick digestion of food articles. We use it in dyskinesia or poor functioning of the gallbladder. Lack of bile can be due to a failing living or a malfunctioning gallbladder. When the problem rests with the gall bladder, mint is the plant that is needed. The tea is taken three times per day, before meals. This will insure that the bile is delivered to where it needs to be.”

Mint may not have been worthy of a tithe, but it is clearly a worthy offering to the digestive tract when it is feeling a little under the weather. The best way to use the plant is to make tea of the dried or the fresh leaf. I use a tablespoon of the fresh leaf and a tea spoon of the dried for each cup of tea. Put the leaves on the bottom of a cup and poor boiling water over them. Let the tea stand for 10 minutes and drink. You can drink as much as you like. It will work wonders after a big holiday meal or during a bout of digestive upset.
Chapter from Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life

Mint

On a trip to the Middle East I had the chance to travel with some Bedouin traders. As my trader friends stopped the car at different villages to do some business I first became acquainted with mint tea. At each stop the mother of the house would disappear into the kitchen and return with glass cups filled with hot mint tea. On another trip to the North of Spain, I found it interesting that every restaurant offered mint tea, or poleo as it is called, as an after dinner beverage along with coffee.

Even in American restaurants a bowl of “mints” can be seen at just about every cash register. Take a look at the candy rack at your local convenience store and you will notice an overabundance of mint products. Mint is everywhere and is used by everyone. Did you ever ask yourself the question why, or how did this after dinner mint thing get started? Well, if you haven’t, go ahead and ask yourself the question, and I will be so kind as to answer it for you. The fact is, we are surrounded by mint products, and there is a very good reason, it’s one of the most widely used tonics in the world.

The reason mint tea is served after dinner in Spain and candies flavored with its oil are handed out at the exit points of restaurants is that mint is the superlative herb for the stomach.

Something in the plant soothes the stomach and makes it feel better and work better. Mint is the stomach tonic plant. Hating to point out the obvious, I will remind you of something many people tend to forget. You need you stomach. It is absolutely shocking how many people abuse their stomachs; never really grasping the idea that a stomach is a terrible thing to waste. People dump bad food into their stomachs, they stuff food into the poor old thing too quickly, and other horrors. Your stomach is the most important part of the body, without it, you are dead meat. The stomach is the entry point of all nutrition, does it get the respect it deserves? Generally not. Mint is the plant for the stomach, a plant that can soothe pains after a day of abuse.

Did you ever wonder where the idea for mint jelly came from? Currently we see it in bright green blobs on the side of lamb, but formerly its use was a little more widespread. The tradition dates back to the orgiastic feasts of ancient Europe . In those days whole pigs and cows were served to the guests along with birds innumerable. And a day of feasting on heavy meats was apt to give all included a little belly ache. The ancients found that if the meats were eaten with jellies spirited with mint, stomachaches were eliminated. So when the host handed you a pig’s leg and said bon appetite, she was quick to supply a bucket of mint jelly to wash it down with. Subsequent research has shown that the oils in the mint helps to break down the heavy fats in meats, and make them more readily digestible. Open up any herbal and you will see the same comment about mint, “aids in digestion.” Digestion is the core of living, and anything that helps us digest our food is something we need to look into.

Before we go one step further, we need to clear something up. The word mint is a general term for a group of closely related plants that all have one thing in common, when stepped on, stomped, or scratched they emit the characteristic mint smell. There are more mints than a person could shake a stick at, peppermint, spearmint, Egyptian mint, mint of cologne, anise mint, Japanese mint, watermint, the list goes on. The plants all have the related flavor, and related use around the world. Most people can’t keep the different varieties straight, and in time they all get called mint. The two most widely grown mints are peppermint and spearmint, and generally speaking, peppermint has round leaves and spearmint has pointy leaves. Regardless of the type of mint, the common ingredients in all the mints have the desired effect on the stomach, health. Being so world renown, the plant has some pretty interesting references.

From the Serval catalogue, a listing of herbs for sale for homemade tonics, published in 1917, we see what the tonic doctors had this to say about peppermint. “One of the oldest and most valued remedies for wind colic and for chills and fever; also very useful to allay nausea and vomiting, spasm cramps in the stomach and hysterics ; much used to flavor other remedies. Externally applied it often brings relief in case of severe headache, neurologia, and rheumatic pains.” The notion of hysteria is one that one doesn’t hear much about any more, but I think it is a fun one. I imagine that when a person suffers from hysteria it involves a lot of spontaneous screaming, ranting, and raving. Like you are sitting at a restaurant and suddenly you get taken with a fit of hysteria, and you just bust out and start screaming. A hundred years ago, when a person took such a fit, they were quickly handed a cup of hot mint tea. Though most of us don’t get taken with such fits any more, a good bout of nerves is a common phenomena, and according to the old tonic doctors, mint takes care of the nerves, headache, and stomachache that usually go hand in hand. The authors of the same text report similar uses for spearmint, “one of the best remedies for colic, wind in the bowels, dyspepsia, etc., valuable also to prevent vomiting, in spasms, dropsy, gravel, suppression or scalding of urine (ouch), and as a local application for piles. I don’t know what that scalding urine is all about, but if taking mint will keep it away, mint is going to be my best friend and constant companion.

Mint is an old plant, so old no one really knows when it was first used. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how the ancients first noticed the plant. How many plants have that smell when crushed? Not many. As I have mentioned, the early herbalists believed that for every disease, God created a cure, and man’s job was to seek it. They also thought that God filled plants with hints, and mint and its scent was a hint pretty easily picked up on. Though no one knows when the ancients first made the connection, the written medical references go way back. Mint was known to be used as medicine in England as early as the ninth century. In Turners Herbal, written in 1568, the author lists it as a popular household medicine. Parkinson mentions the plant in his list of herbal remedies in 1640. The following book was said to have been written some time around 849 a.d. The author seems quite familiar with the plant:

“Mynte drunken helpeth the digestion, comforteth the stomach and stauncheth vomite and sleeth the worms in the bely.”

(Mint helps digestion, comforts the stomach, stops vomiting, and kills worms.)

“Wasshe thi ballokes (penis and sundry parts) with the water that mynte is soden in, and that wole hele many diverse grevaunces of them.” (Wash the genitals with mint water and they will be healed.)

“Mynte iuus made leuke and drunken wole clarifie wondrely the voyes.” (Mint juice will clear the eyes.)

“Mynte stampid and leyde to the tetes maketh it ful of mylk.”

(Mint will make the breasts of nurses swell with milk.)

“Helde in the ere the iuus of mynte with hony, so shalt thou abate the ache of the ere.” (Mint if put in the ear with honey will cure ear ache.)

“Frote thou the tunge ofte with myntes, and hit wole hele the roughnesse of the tunge. Minte iuus drunken with sapa wole deliure sone a woman and aleye here throwes. Sapa is whit and smal wyn or het wyn medled with the iuus of some herbe.” (Mint will cure an ulcerated tongue and give a women male sons.)

“Minte stampid with salt and leyde upon wole hele byting of an hounde.” (Mint with salt will heal a dog bite.)

“The iuus of myntes meddled with vynegre helpeth hem that speten or spewen blode.” (Mint mixed with vinegar will heal people that spit blood.)

“Minte iuus underput to the matrice afore the cunte maketh that the woman shal nat conceyue at that tyme.” (Put into the vagina, mint will render a women sterile.)

“Mynte iuus drieth bocches.” (Mint juice dries and heals skin ulcers.)

“Mynte stampid and leyde to wole hele the woundes of the hede.”

(Mint heals wounds on the head.)

This eighth century list is fairly comprehensive, but alas there is more. In Latin America , mint is known as yerbabuena, or the good herb. They developed a taste for mint from their Spanish ancestors that brought the plant from the old world. The new world Latins see mint as being a supreme tonic, used in the case of illnesses that wont go away. And, of course, to avoid getting sick in the first place. In these parts, whatever ails you, first gets treated with a little mint tea, the tea is drunk to ensure an easy delivery of a child, and in the case of miscarriage or hemorrhage after delivery, and for a bad case of cramps. Colic, stomachache, kidney and urinary tract infections, rashes, toothache, earache, fright, diarrhea, poison ivy, pimples, colds, and fevers. Like I said, mint is used for just about everything.

In Djakarta mint grows wild all over the place and is kept around the house for home curing. It is called Poo or daun poko, and is used for two things, headaches and colds. For headaches the leaves are ground with a bit of lime and poulticed on the temples for relief from a throbbing head. The same leaves are brewed for a serious cough. When a person takes the chills, mint is used immediately.

In Pakistan the plant is called pudina or jangli pudina, and is used as an aromatic, carminative, stimulant, antispasmodic, and stomachic. The Pakistanis have found the plant to be excellent in preventing vomiting and as a stomach stimulant. The Indian’s neighbors recognized the importance of a stomach that works just fine, and feel that mint is the ultimate stomach tonic.

In China mentha arvensis, or po-ho, is the local mint used in healing. It is grown in the vegetable garden and added to greens to create a really healthful stir fry. The plant is listed in the oldest medical texts, indicating it has been around since the beginning of time. The oil is spoken of as early as 1035 a.d., almost a thousand years ago. The Chinese use the plant to treat fevers, colds, nervous disorders of children, nosebleeds, flus, snake and insect bites, and diseases of the nose and throat. In many parts of Asia mint is used as a salad green, and like with the Chinese, added to vegetable dishes. The Vietnamese use fresh mint along with watercress as an appetizer served early in the meal, the thought is that the mint will get the stomach functioning and ready for the onslaught of food.

In New Zealand mint is used as a tonic, to treat colds and flu, headaches, migraine, colic, gas, nausea, oil of peppermint put on burns quickly relieves the pain and the oil taken on a regular basis is said to dissolve gall stones. The New Zealander descend from British and Irish immigrants, two countries that swear by the stuff.

In Arabia , menta spicata, mentha villosa, and mentha suaveole are all used in medicine and, of course, they have the same characteristic smell and action of the other mints in the world. In the case of skin diseases, the Arabians fill a hot bath with chopped mint, and have the patient take a float in the minty water. They also use the flower heads to treat gas and any other intestinal upset.

They use mint in a hot bath for skin diseases, and the flowering tops are used for gas. The Arabians see the plant as the supreme refresher of the body, and they should know, they deal with hot dry weather on a daily basis. The hot cups of mint tea served to me on my trip to the Bedouin camps were served for just this reason, it peps up weary travelers. They feel this applies to people suffering from the flu and from a nasty cold. Like the Chinese, the Arabians use mint as a vegetable, said to bring on vigor and, in fact, a salad made of mint is thought to be a fairly powerful aphrodisiac.

A friend of mine, trapped in the legal profession, recently told me he needed a mental mint. In this case, he was referring to the fact that his life was a little stale, and needed a little refreshment, and unbeknownst to him, that may have been exactly what he needed. The Arabians are only one of many cultures that feel mint is a mind tonic as well as a stomach tonic, somehow soothing the mind and putting it in a better place. Remember the listing of mint as being used to treat hysterics? The modern world can make the mind feel bone tired at times, and mint is one tea that can jump start it into a more energetic state, minus the shakes that many of our stimulating beverages offer us.

The Native Americans were no strangers to mint, and the Seminoles and Creeks used mints in all their medicinal mixtures to add a little power to the medicine. The Creeks used mint to induce sweat for the purpose of breaking a fever, and to help someone in a state of delirium move back to planet earth. Once again here’s a reference to mint as a mind herb. They also used mint to treat dropsy, or swelling of the limbs, drinking the tea and bathing in it.

The Alabama Indians offer us some very interesting information. This tribe felt that after a person died in the wigwam, the spirit was apt to hang around for a while and cause all kinds of problems among the living, namely, chaos and deafness. To prevent the spirit from making trouble, they drank mint tea as soon as the person passed from this realm to the next, and kept drinking it for a day or two, until the spirit had moved on entirely. They also bathed in water boiled with the plant to protect themselves from the troublemaking spirit.

The Indians from India use mentha arvensis to tone the stomach, stimulate the mind and body, and rid the intestines of unsocial gas, and relieve muscular spasms. Yet another nation sees the plant as being the original friend of the stomach, and they have a similar yet different, way of using the plant. In India mint is crushed and added to fruit chutneys, eaten with the meal to aid digestion and ensure good health. In India , chutney is more than a condiment. It is a tonic eaten with each meal to ensure good health. The people take fruit and boil it down with loads of powerful tonic herbs to create a healthful compote. Chutney is served at every meal! What other herbs go into chutney? Oh, garlic, mustard, ginger, cinnamon, to name a few. Do those sound familiar? So rather than taken tonic formulas, the Indians eat their tonics right with dinner. Believe it or not, mustard and ketchup descend from the same practice.

The Pennsylvania Dutch used both mentha piperita, called blo schtenglicher balsem, and spearmint, kricka balsem , in their daily medical practice. The Mennonites are an agriculturally based community, and spend every summer out in the fields bringing in the fruits of the earth. When most of us are hiding from the heat behind double panned insulated glass, the Mennonites are out busting hump in the fields. What is their solution to beat the heat? Big pitchers of mint tea. They find the heat doesn’t make one as sick when taken with a little mint. They also use the plant to treat stomach disorders, colic, diarrhea, and cholera. They also use the plant to keep rats and mice out of the graineries. One fact some dont know is that mice and rats hate the smell of mint, an stay as far away from it as is possible. If you have a rodent problem, throw some mint around, and the long tailed critters will clear out.

Going back to this mint tea to beat the heat, can you think of another culture that uses mint in the hot days to stay cool? Think Southern America , plantation living. The mint julep, of course! Like the Mennonites, the Southerners found that mint could help to keep you cool when the temperature wasn’t. They added a little whiskey to make it more annihilating, but the use is the same, refreshment.

In the Burroughs and Welcome catalogue of drugs dating to the turn of the century we find mint extracts being used for many of the same purposes the rest of the world suggests, “tabloid mentol compound, dissolved in the mouth, relieves painful and dry conditions of the throat: may also be used to relieve nausea and flatulence. As an oily spray or insufflation to nose or throat. Relieves the irritation in acute coryza, pharyngitis, laryngitis.” The Burroughs and Welcome catalogue lists eight products made with menthol, the oil derived from the peppermint plant. And, in fact, the American Medical Association was all behind mint products at the turn of the century, they seem to have forgotten about mint, but their old documents suggest they once knew it well.

In Ayurvedic medicine, mint gets a whole long list of uses, to name a few, aromatic, antiseptic, carminative, stimulant, antispasmodic, stomachic, emmenagogue, a decoction made with lemon grass and mint is used as a fever breaker, for hiccups, headache, rheumatism, heat stroke, cholera, vomiting, and gas. The Ayurvedics feel that mint produces heaviness in the body and promotes taste. In the case of any stomach complaint, mint is called in. Along these lines, this tradition suggests mint causes a decrease in the output of feces and urine. What this means I do not know, just passing along the facts. Aside from shortening trips to the restroom, the plant is used as a heart tonic and in all cases of diseases that include fever, namely infectious diseases. The plant is used to prevent catching infectious diseases, and to assist the body in getting rid of them once taken root.

For the sake of our stomachs, mint will be included in out tonic mixture, and as well for the sake of our taste buds. Some of the ingredients are pretty nasty tasting, and mint is a great coverall. As to getting the mint for our use, there is no excuse for not growing the plant yourself. In fact, that statement is not even true. There is no excuse for not putting some mint in the garden, and letting it grow itself. This is a weed plant along the lines of burdock and dandelion, and a fresh supply couldn’t be easier to have, just get a start from a friend and stick it in the ground. For tonic making purposes, the plant can be picked whenever it is green, and tossed in the pot. This is, by the way, most of the year!

Chapter from Gardening Book

MINT

MINT IS MOSTLY ASSOCIATED IN THIS COUNTRY WITH THE SOPHISTICATED MINT JULEP OF THE OLD SOUTH. IRONICLLY ITS PRIMARY USE TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO WAS TO MASK THE NASTY ODORS OF PUBLIC PLACES AND TO REPEL ODORS. GERARD SAYS OF IT ” THE SMELLE REJOICETH THE HEART OF MAN, FOR WHICH CASUE THEY USED TO STREW IT IN CHAMBERS AND PLACES OF RECREATION, PLEASURE AND REPOSE, WHERE FEASTS AND BANQUETS ARE MADE. ” MANY OF THE MOST COMMON HERBS WERE FIRST USED AS STREWING HERBS. THIS CLASS OF HERBS DOESNT EXIST IN TODAYS WORLD BUT IT HAD GREAT SIGNIFICANCE IN YEARS PAST. A MOFOR SECTION OF THE HERB GARDEN WAS DEDICATED TO THE HERBS OF “STREWING”. SWEET SCENTED HERBS WERE SPRED ON THE FLOOR IN THE HOME, CHURCH, AND COURT. ITS REALLY NO DIFFERNT THAN THE ODOUR REDUCING SPRAYS WE SEE IN MOST HOMES, JUST A LITTLE MORE QUAINT.

MANY THINGS WE DO TODAY ON A THOUGHTLESS CEREMONIAL BASIS HAVE ROOTS IN SOMETHING REAL. BACK TO THE EVERYTHING COMES FROM SOMETING. AS YOU PROBALY HAVE NOTICED MOST RESTURANTS, FROM BIG BOY TO FAMILY STYLE ITLIAN, HAVE A BOWEL OF MINTS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO THE CASH REGISTER. DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY, OR WHERE THIS IDEA COMES FROM? WHY DO WE SERVE MINT JELLY WITH LAMB? ARE THESE THINGS JUST SO, OR IS THERE SOMETHING MORE TO? WITH ALL THE FLAVORS ONE WOULD PUT IN THE COMPANY OF LAMB, WOULD MINT BE ONE OF THEM. YES, ID LIKE A LITTLE TOOTHPASTE WITH MY MEAT THANKS. IM SURE THIS ONE HAS KEPT YOU UP AT NIGHT, AND ATLAST THE QUESTION THAT HAS BEEN KILLING YOU WILL BE ANSWERED. LONG AGO PEOPLE DISCOVERED THAT FOLLOWING A GREASY MEAT DINNER, MINT WOULD BREAK UP THE FAT, AND RELAX A STOMACH PUT INTO KNOTS BY A MEAL THAT JUST DOESNT SIT WELL.

THUS ENTTERS THE MINT INTO THE HISTORY OF MAN. I ALWAYS THOUGHT PEOPLE USED MINT TO HIDE BAD BREATH, WHICH IS ALSO TRUE. BUT THEY FIRST APPEARED MOSTLY TO SOOTH SORE STOMACHES AND TO ASSIST IN THE DIGESTION OF TRADITONALLY HARD TO DIGEST FOODS, LIKE LAMB. SO THAT GLOB OF GREEN STUFF AT THE LEFT OF THE LAMB IS ACTUAL GOING TO HELP YOUR DIGESTION. MINT TEA, CALLED POLEO IS STILL A AFTER DINNER FAVORITE OF THE SPANISH.

ORIGNALLY A NATIVE OF THE MEDITERANEAN, MINT WAS CARRIED TO THE FAR REACHES OF EUROPE WITH THE MOVEMENT OF THE ROMANS. THE ROMANS WERE QUITE FOND OF MINT AND CARRIED IT WITH THEM WHERE EVER THEY WENT. IN THOSE DAYS LABOR WAS CHEAP AND THE HOUSEHOLD HELP WOULD RUB THE SERVING PLATTERS AND PLATES WITH GROUND MINT TO GIVE THEM A FRESH SMELL AND TO CREATE AN APETITE. GERARD SAYS:” THE SMELL OF MINT DOES STIR UP THE MINDE ADN THE TASTE TO A GREEDY DESIRE OF MEAT.”

THE MINTY DENTAL PASTE IS ALSO AN OLD USAGE OF MINT. FROM THE 14TH CENTURY FORWARD MINT WAS RECONGIZED AS BENEFICAIL TO THE GUMS AND TEETH. IN THIS CENTURY DISTILLED MINT OIL WAS USED TO WHITEN TEETH. GARGLES OF MINT WERE MADE TO TREAT SORE GUMS. IN TIME IT HAS HELD ITS POSITION AS FRIEND OF THE MOUTH AND WE STILL SEE IT IN TOOTHPASTES. ONE USE THAT HAS FALLEN OUT OF USE IS IN TREATING CHAPPED HANDS. IF MY HANDS GET SORE, I TAKE SEVERAL MINT LEAVES AND RUB THEM ON MY HANDS UNTIL THE LEAVES CRUMBLE AND MY HANDS ARE STAINED GREEN. I LEAVE THE RESIDUE ON MY HANDS UNTIL I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE PUBLIC, AT WHICH POINT I WASH MY HANDS. BIG GREEN HANDS ONLY LOOK GOOD ON THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT.

ONE OTHER LITTLE FACT IVE READ ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS, BUT HAVING CATS HAVE NEVER HAD THE OPOORTUNHITY TO TRY, IT APPEARS THAT MICE CANNOT STOMACH MINT AND AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS. PEOPLE USED TO PLANT MINT AROUND CROPS TRADITONALLY EATEN BY MICE AND KEPT QUANTITIES OF IT IN THE PANTRY TO KEEP MICE OUT OF THE FOOD STORE.

MINTS LATIN NAME, MENTHA, HAS ITS ROOTS IN LEGEND. MENTHE WAS A BEAUTIFUL NYMPH MUCH ADAORED BY PLUTO. PROSPERINE, A FEMALE GODDESS HAD HER EYES ON PLUTO AND IN JEALOUSIE TURNED MENTHE INTO A PLANT. SO MINT WAS BORN OUT OF THE JEALOUSIE OF A WOMAN. IT WASNT ENOUGH THAT PROSPERINE TURNED HER INTO A PLANT, BUT SHE TURNED HER INTO A COMMON WAY SIDE PLANT.

THERE IS MUCH CONFUSION AS TO WHAT MINT IS WHAT. IN THE STATES WE GENERICALLY SAY MINT, SOME SAY SPEARMINT, PEPPERMINT, AND USUALLY NOBODY KNOWS THE DIFFERNCE. THE GENERAL TERM MINT REALLY ISNT ACCURATE, YOU ARE EITHER GROWING SPEARMINT OR PEPPERMINT. THE PROBLEM STARTS IN THAT SOME SPEARMINTS LOOK LIKE PEPPERMINT, AND VICE VERSA. THEY GROW ABOUT THE SAME , AND CAN BE USED INTERCHANGEABLY, BUT LETS CLEAR THIS LITTLE MATTER UP ONCE OAND FOR ALL. SPEARMINT TENDS TO HAVE JAGGED EDGED LEAVES AND HAS PINK BLOSSOMS. PEPPER MINT, IN GENERAL, HAS ROUNDED LEAVES AND BLOOMS WHITE. AS I SAID THESE ARE GENERALITIES. IT DOESNT MAKE A BIG NEVERMIND, AND IT SEEMS HOPELESSLY CONFUSED AT THIS PPOINT. I SEE PEPPERMINT BEING SOLD AS SPEARMINT ALL THE TIME.

ITS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT IT TAKES 350 POUNDS OF MINT TO PRODUCE 1 POUND OF MINT OIL, THATS A LOT OF MINT FOR A LITLE OIL. PEPPER MINT IS USED FOR OIL AS IT IS CONSIDERED THE MOST MEDICINALLY EFFECTIVE. THE BEST IS SAID TO COME FROM ENGLAND , THOUGH IT IS CULTIVATED IN FRANCE , SPAIN , AND THE UNITED STATES. THIS OIL FINDS ITS WAY INTO MINTS AND TOOTHPASTES, AND A VARIETY OF COMMERCIAL USES. FRANCE IS REPORTED TO FERTILIZE HER MINT FIELDS WITH SEWAGE, AN INTERESTING THOUGHT ONE MIGHT WANT TO FORGET RIGHT BEFORE USING TOOTHPASTE.

IN THE PAST EACH CITY HAD A DEPARTMENT OF RAT CONTROL AND AN OCCUPATION WAS MADE OF RAT EXTERMINATING. PEPPERMINT WAS THE FRIEND OF THE RAT CATCHER, THEY USED IT TO STUFF UP THE RAT HOLE AND GET THE RAT TO COME OUT THE OTHER END RUNNING. TODAY THE RAT ERRADICATOR, THE PROPER TERM HAVE DISCONTINUED THE USE OF PEPERMINT IN THEIR STRATEGY.

TO QUOTE OUR FRIEND GERARD, WHO WAS QUOTING DISCORIDES, “(MINT) BEING APPLIED TO THE SECRET PART OF A WOMAN BEFORE THE ACT, IT HINDRETH CONCEPTION” SO IT WOULD SEEM THAT COOKIE OLD MINT HAD USE ABOVE AND BEYOND MOUTH AND ROOM FRESHENING. WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE” “THE ACT” WAS?

MINT IS A GREAT HERB TO GROW , THERE ARE NUMEROUS USES, AND IT GROWS IN SUCH ABUNDANCE, YOU HAVE ALL THE MINT YOU COULD EVER WANT. ITS ALSO ONE OF HTE EASIEST TO GET GOING. ITS SUCH A COMMON PLANT IT REALLY DOESNT PAY TO PURCHASE IT, JUST ASK A FRIEND FOR A CUTTING. ANYONE THAT HAS MINT IN THE GARDEN HAS ENOUGH TO SHARE. THE BEST TIME TO GET STARTED ON YOUR MINT OPERATION IS IN THE DORMANT MONTHES, LATE FALL BEING THE BEST MOMENT. MINT SEEMS TO GROW UNDER THE SOIL ALL WINTER SPREADING ITS SUCKERS AND PLANTING IT IN THE FALL TAKES ADVANTAGE OF THIS FACT.

IF YOU WANT TO ORDER IT FROM A MAIL ORDER HOUSE YOU CAN SPECIFY PEPPERMINT OR SPEARMINT. THEY ARE ACTUALLY QUITE SIMILAR IN THE KITCHEN, BUT PEPPERMINT IS PARTICULARLY GOOD FOR PEOPLE THAT SUFFER STOMACH PROBLEMS, SO ID YOU HAVE STOMACH ACHES, ORDER SOME PEPERMINT.

IT CAN BE STARTED VERY EASILY FROM CUTTINGS OBTAINED AT THE SUPERMARKET, IN FACT ITS ONE OF THE EASIEST TO GET STARTED. IF YOU WANT TO GROW A PLANT IN A POT, MINT IS ONE THAT WILL SERVE YOU WELL.

ONE ADDED PLUS OF MINT FOR THE GARDENER IS THAT IT DOES NOT MIND BEING IN A SHADY LOCATION. MOST HERBS REALLY LOVE THE HOT SUN, MINT BEING THE EXCEPTION TO THE GENERALITY. IT WILL HAPPILY TURN AN UNPRODUCTIVE CORNER INTO A VERITABLE HERB SHOP. UNLIKE ITS HOT SUN LOVING HERB ASSOCIATES, MINT LIKE ITS SOIL MOIST AND WILL DO JUST FINE IN AN AREA THAT DOES NOT DRAIN WELL.THEY ARE NOT WATERPLANTS AND DONT LIKE SITTING IN WATER, BUT POOR DRAINAGE WONT DO THEM ANY HARM. LIKE LEMON BALM, THIS PLANT IS A SPREADER AND REMEMBER THIS. I HAVE LET MY MINT SPREAD WHERE EVER ITS WANTED TO GO, I USE A LOT OF IT , AND THE MORE THE MERRIER. THE ANAL GARDENER WILL WANT TO PICK A SPOT THAT WILL BE EASY TO CONTROL IT IN. IT WILL SPREAD ALL ON ITS OWN.

THERE ARE NO REAL SPECIAL PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS FOR MINT, JUST TAKE YOUR PLANT, FROM WHAT EVER SOURCE, AND STICK IT IN THE SELECTED POSITION. MINT SEEMS TO HAVE TAKEN OVER MY COMPOST PILE, LITTLE PEICE OF ROOT HAVE ENDED UP IN THE PILE AND TAKEN ROOT. THIS IS TYPICAL MINT BEHAVIOR. ALL THE OTHER WEEDED PLANTS DIE AND ROOT NICELY, NOT THE MINT. IT JUST SETS IN SOME ROOTS AND STARTS LIFE OVER. IF YOU HAVE SOME COMPOST PUT A FEW SHOVELS IN WITH YOUR MINT START, IVE FOUND THEY LOVE IT. IF YOU DONT HAVE ANY, DONT WORRY ABOUT IT. LIKE WITH MOST TRANSPLANTS , KEEP THE PLANT WELL WATERED FOR THE FIRST YEAR. THIS IS THE ROOTING IN PERIOD AND THE BETTER THE MINT ROOTS IN THE BIGGER THE PLANT WILL BE.



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