Mint’s (Mentha) stimulating, refreshing and uplifting properties have been valued around the world since healing in the classical antiquity period. The genus name Mentha comes from Roman Mythology. Minthe was a lovely young nymph who caught the eye of Pluto, the ruler of the underworld. When Pluto’s wife Persephone found out about his love for the beautiful nymph, she was enraged. She changed Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trodden underfoot. Pluto couldn’t reverse Persephone’s curse, but he did soften the spell somewhat by making the smell that Minthe gave off all the sweeter when she was tread upon.
There are countless varieties of mints which is why I am not going to specify the species, all of which are generally diaphoretic, carminative, and stimulating. In case you’re wondering what on earth these words mean in herbology:
Diaphoretic ~ A herb or substance taken internally to cool the body by increasing perspiration, usually through expansion of capillaries near the skin (sometimes used to treat a fever). This also helps to improve circulation.
Carminative ~ Medicine that helps to expel gas from the intestines.
Stimulating ~ Any substance that increases a physiological function, as opposed to depressing or decreasing it.
Mint acts as an effective digestive aid and is the go-to herb for many people when they are feeling bloated, are feeling heavy after a meal or are struggling with indigestion. It pairs well with ginger in this case! Mint is also wonderful for helping boost brain function and focus – this is part of its stimulating effect. I often use mint in its essential oil form (usually peppermint) to help me stay awake and concentrate during my studies. In fact I almost always study with peppermint, and whenever I sat down to write exams in university, I would dab the essential oil on my skin so the scent would jog my memory of all the times I studied with peppermint. I call it my “scentual” memories. It’s kind of like when you walk to the room, smell a fresh berry pie, and suddenly memories of all the times you spent with your grandparents eating pie come flooding back in. I believe it helped my test score, but who knows!
Mint is a great staple herb to always have around in the home, as a tea, an essential oil, and even a fresh window plant that you can snip trimmings from if you don’t have an outdoor garden! They are pretty hardy plants and smell soooo divine (as Pluto could attest to). I hope you enjoy your little mint sprigs this week, we hope to be giving out some mint plants soon!