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Earthnotes
Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.



MINTS
(Mentha spp)
Also see Mint Varieties and Their Uses Chart

PROPAGATION: Generally by division; also cuttings. Perennial.
NEEDS: Most need partial shade and moisture retentive and fertile soil.
HARVEST: Just as the plant begins flowering (or earlier if desired). When harvesting, cut to 1 to 2 inches above the soil line, then hang to dry.
FLOWERS: Late July onward.



PEPPERMINT
(Mentha piperita)
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CAUTION! Very young children should not be given mint. It causes gagging and choking in them. Should not be used by those suffering from gastric reflux. Also - it suppresses lactation so nursing mothers should avoid it. Although a safe herb, it should not be used daily over a long period of time. Do NOT use the oil except as an ingredient of liniment. Internal use of the oil can lead to damage of the mucous membranes and nerves.

CONTAINS: High in Vit. C and carotene.

PROPAGATION: By cuttings in summer and by root division in fall or spring. Perennial.
NEEDS: Part shade and moisture-rententive, well-draining soil.
HARVEST: While in bud and just before it begins blooming.
FLOWERS: Lavender in color and borne on a spike.

USES

MEDICINAL:
Menthol in mint has antispetic properties. Also carminative, antispasmodic, locally antiseptic and mildly anesthetic.
Stimulates heart and circulation.
Has been used in fever management, chronic pancreatic conditions, overactivity of the digestive system, and Crohn's disease.
Relaxing to the digestive tract, it has been used for indigestion and stomach upset as well as nausea and vomiting..
Relieves gas and has been used for colic, griping, flatulence, diarrhea and spastic constipation.
Mint has often been combined with alfalfa for digestive benefits.
The oil inhibits spasms in the digestive tract and hard coated peppermint oil capsules are used in England for treating irritable bowel syndrome.
The hot tea has been used for colds, flu, clogged head (nasal, sinus and chest congestion relieved due to menthol content).
As inhalation treatment has been used in the following manner: pour 5 to 10 drops of the oil into 2 quarts of boiling water and breathe in to clear sinuses (use towel as a tent to trap the steam; this is not a safe procedure for children!) Has also been used for asthma
Has been used for migraines associated with digestion.
Has been used for painful periods. A few chamomile flowers have been added to mint tea to settle upset stomach and relieve cramps and pain.
Has been used externally to cool inflammations.
Has been used as a wash for poison oak as well as a lotion for external inflammations.
Has been used as a mouthwash and in lozenges (see Recipes below).

CULINARY:
Used to make tea, candy, cookies, beverages, jellies and used for flavoring. (See Recipes below)
Freeze leaves in ice cubes to add to drinks.
Flowers edible.
Used in custards, breads, desserts, vegetable and fruit dishes.
Used as a seasoning by washing leaves in warm water and serving.
Lebanese dry the leaves then crush through a strainer and put in a jar; then sprinkle on salads or make tea or season vegetable dishes.
Amish serve tea made from the fresh leaves and call it 'meadow tea'.
Chill mint tea and add to club soda or gingerale.
Use leftover mint stems as stirrers in cocoa, hot coffee, etc.

COSMETIC:
In the herbal bath it is stimulating, fragrant and useful for inflammed skin.
A strong infusion is good for chapped hands.
As a face wash, soak a cup of fresh leaves in 1 quart of cool water, then strain and chill.

CRAFT:
Good in sachets and potpourri.
Good when combined with lavender for sleep pillows and sachets. (Combine 1/8 C. peppermint and 1 C. lavender.)
Tie a bunch of dried stems together with paper ribbon and toss onto a fire for fragrance.

OTHER:
Supposedly repels rodents. Plant to repel white cabbage butterfly and ants. Used commercially for oil production.



RECIPES

BEVERAGE
Combine equal parts lemon juice, orange juice and water, then add a sprig of crushed mint; chill 2 hours; serve cold.

AMISH TEA

Place mint leaves in boiled water, steep, strain, then sweeten to taste, OR: bring 2 C. sugar and 4 C. water to boil and pour over 2 C. mint leaves and 2 sliced lemons packed in heat resistant jar or bowl; let stand overnight, then strain and store in refrigerator (this concentrate may be frozen for later use). To serve pour into 1 gallon container and fill with water and ice.

TEDDY ROOSEVELT TEA
Boil 1/2 C. water with 1/2 C. sugar for 5 minutes and add 1 tsp black tea and 1/4 C. chopped mint leaves (fresh, or else 1/8 c. dried leaves); then cover and steep 10 to 12 minutes; strain; combine liquid with 1 quart boiling water and 1/2 C. lemon juice and bring to boil again; serve.

ICED MINT
3 C. fresh mint leaves, 6 Tbsp sugar, juice of 3 lemons. Pound mint leaves to pulp in mortar and pestle (or use blender or food processor); add 2 Tbsp sugar and pound again; make syrup by boiling 2¼ pints water with remaining sugar for 5 minutes; remove from heat and cool; add lemon juice and mint pulp; stir well and chill several hours before serving.

APPLEMINT ALE
1/2 C. sugar, 1 C. water, 18 sprigs of applemint, 4 lemons, 1 quart of gingerale.

Boil sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add 10 sprigs of applemint. Chill. Add juice of 4 lemons and strain. After filling glasses with crushed ice, add 1/2 C. apple ale and fill to top with gingerale. Add a sprig of applemint for garnish.

CRYSTALLIZED MINT LEAVES
Mint leaves, egg white, sugar.
Each leaf should be fresh and dry. Beat egg white with fork until opaque, but not foaming; dip each leaf into egg till coated or paint eggwhite onto leaf; dip leaf in sugar till well coated; lay on wax paper; dry in low oven with the door ajar; when dry and brittle, store between layers of wax paper in an airtight container.

MOUTHWASH
Make an infusion of peppermint, sage, thyme (or marjoram).

LOZENGES

12 drops oil of peppermint, 2 oz. sugar and enough slippery elm to make a paste.
Mix sugar and oil; add slippery elm to make a flat cake; roll out and cut into lozenges; dry and store.



MINT VARIETIES & THEIR USES

Except where noted these are hardy perennials with the same growing requirements as peppermint

Applemint(Mentha suaveolens syn rotundifolia)Fruity. Same uses as Peppermint. Sachets and potpourri
Austrian mint(Mentha sp)Suitable for culinary and fragrance purposes.
Bergamot Mint(M. x piperita citrata) Has its own distinctive aroma which tends more towards spearmint. Good cosmetic herb.
Blue Balsam Tea Mint(M. x piperita)Excellent variety of peppermint. More refined flavor for tea and culinary purposes.
Chinese Mint(M. haplocalyx)Used for culinary and fragrance purposes.
Chocolate Mint(M. x piperita var. piperita "Mitcham")Same uses as peppermint but more suited to culinary uses where the undertone of chocolate is desired. Rub two leaves together to bring out the chocolate aroma. One leaf to flavor coffee is wonderful.
Corsican Mint (M. Requienii)A tender perennial requiring full sun to part shade and used for culinary and fragrance purposes.
Curly Mint(M. spicata 'Crispata')Used for culinary and fragrance purposes. Also a good ornamental but invasive. There is also a variety of this called Green Curly Mint.
Eau-de-Cologne Mint (M. piperita 'Eau-de-Cologne')Same uses as peppermint but more suited to cosmetic and craft purposes.
Egyptian Mint(M. niliaca)Used for culinary and fragrance purposes.
Emerald n' Gold (M. spicata variegata)Best as an ornamental for partial shade. Flavor and aroma is that of a poor spearmint.
Epicurean Mint(M. epicuratus)Used solely for culinary purposes.
Ginger Mint(M. gentilis)Used for culinary and fragrances purposes, but best suited as an ornamental garden plant.
Grapefruit Mint (M. suaveolens x piperita)Used for culinary and fragrance purposes.
Habek Mint(M. longifolia 'Habak')Said to be the Bible mint from Israel. Used for culinary purposes.
Hillary's Sweet Lemon (M. sp. "H.S.L.")Culinary and fragrance purposes.
Himalayan Silver(M. sp. 'H.S.')Culinary and fragrance purposes.
Horsemint(M. longifolia)Culinary purposes.
Hypocalyx(M. Hypocalyx)Culinary and fragrance purposes.
Japanese Field Mint(M. arvensis piperescens)Same uses as peppermint. Can become invasive.
Japonica Mint(M. japonica)Culinary and fragrace purposes and a good ornamental.
Lavender Mint(M. piperita lavendula)Same uses as peppermint, but best suited to cosmetic and fragrance purposes. Especially lovely in the herbal bath, in sachets and sleep pillows.
Lime Mint(M. piperita citrata spp)Same uses as peppermint. Suited well to culinary purposes, cosmetic purposes and fruity sachets and potpourris.
Orangemint(M. pip. citrata)aka Perfume Mint - Same uses as peppermint. Excellent refined taste and aroma well suited for culinary, cosmetic and craft purposes. Makes an excellent jelly with a golden color.
Oregano Mint(M. origanum)aka Mintucha - Used for culinary purposes where a minty oregano flavor is desired. Good in Middle eastern dishes such as hummus.
Peppermint Todd MitchumM. piperita 'T.M.'A variety of peppermint with the same uses.
Peppermint, VariegatedMentha sppA variety of peppermint suited to culinary, fragrance and ornamental purposes.
Pineapple mint (M. suaveolens "variegata")A slightly fruity fragrance whose best use is as a garnish. The white margined leaves make a nice splash in the garden as an ornamental.
Silver Mint(M. sp)Culinary, fragrance and ornamental uses.
Spearmint(M. spicata)Same uses as peppermint, but a different flavor which is well-known. In the language of herbs is it "refreshment".
Spearmint, Fuzzy (M. spicata ssp)Culinary and fragrance purposes.
Spearmint, Kentucky Colonel(M. spicata 'K.C.')Culinary and fragrance purposes.
Spearmint, Large-leaf(M. spicata ssp)Culinary and fragrance purposes.
Spearmint, Scotch(M. spicata 'Scotch')Culinary and fragrance purposes.
Vietnamese Mint(M. x gracilis)Same uses as peppermint.
Watermint(M. aquatica)Culinary purposes.




©2001 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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