Mint comes from the Latin word “mentha”. Mentha or mint is a medicinal plant that can grow abundantly in our yards. In fact, if you let it, mint can take over an entire garden or yard. Mint is often considered a pest or a weed to many landscapes. Mint plants prefer cool, irrigated areas in partial shade, however is also very hardy and will grow in a wide range of conditions including full sun. Mint grows fast and even though some mints are more invasive than others, it should be planted above the ground in tubs and barrels for best results. The most common planted mints are peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata).
Species of mint have a long-standing history. Mint was used in Ancient Chinese medicine; these types of mint plants are among the oldest, cultivated medicinal plants on record. The Japanese have used mentha as a medication for 2000 years. Pieces of mint were found in ancient Egyptian graves. The Ancient Greek, Dioscorides described mint as beneficial for stomach ailments. The Greeks recommended mint for abdominal pain, gall bladder ailments and to get rid of intestinal worms. The Romans used mint for students to invigorate their minds. In the Middle Ages, mint was used to whiten teeth and freshen breathe. The list goes on and on!
The most common types of mint used for culinary purposes are spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, apple mint, orange mint and Swiss mint. Mint can be prepared many different ways. It can be made into jelly, lemonade; used in teas, syrups, candies and ice creams. In Middle Eastern cuisine, mint is used in lamb dishes and with yogurt.
Mint as an essential oil is used in toothpaste, chewing gum, after dinner mints, desserts, candies, mouth wash, cosmetics, shampoos and perfumes. Mint has also been used as an insecticide for its ability to kill wasps, ants and cockroaches.
Medicinally, mint has a long recognition of being used for various acute and chronic ailments. In acute conditions, mint has been used to treat stomach pains, indigestion and chest pains. It can also provide relief for menstrual cramps, gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting and colic in children. Types of mint can be recommended to treat bug bites, arthritis and chronic joint pain. Mint can also be used as a decongestant with the common cold, an appetite stimulant, as a facial cleanser for acne and to help control dandruff. So enjoy the marvels of mint for its many medicinal and culinary purposes!