Mint

Mint

“Mint” is a bit of a general term and a word we might use to refer to peppermint or spearmint.  In this Materia Medica we will focus on Peppermint.  This was taken from our Mint-tastic Class we taught in 2023.  If you’d like to view the class video for the entire Mint-tastic, you can find it in your toolkit Herbalista Toolkit.  

Peppermint Materia Medica           

Mentha piperita 
LAMIACEAE FAMILY

There are sooooo many mints.  So many of them, that they decided to name the whole family after them 🙂. We are going to focus on Peppermint for this entry.  This is probably one of the most widely known and used herbal teas, with the exception of Chamomile.  If a restaurant or grocery store has an herbal tea on offer, this will be it. This makes it accessible medicine and worth our attention.  Not to mention it’s lovely and aromatic AND effective.

Peppermint is also an interesting example of complex energetics.  Peppermint manages to be both cooling and warming, both calming and energizing.  It is perfect for a cold winter’s night and a sweltering summer’s day.  It can give you a pep and invigorate you or relax the tension you are holding in your body.   

 

DESCRIPTION

Perennial herb spreading via rhizomes.  It is quick growing and some regard it as invasive.  Square reddist stem with opposite leaf pairings. The leaves are simple, dark green leaves with a toothed edge and reddish veins.  Purple flowers are in whorled clusters around the stem, often at leaf axils. Originally native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, it is now naturalized in many places around the world including the Americas and Ireland.  Although it has its own species name, most botanists believe it to be a hybrid cross between a water mint (Mentha arvensis) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). 

PART USED

Leaves

HARVEST

Leaves when vibrant. Dry by hanging in bunches.

ENERGETICS + TASTES

spicy, pungent, warming/ cooling, dry

ACTIONS

carminative, aromatic, antispasmodic (general + specifically esophageal), anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, antimicrobial, analgesic, nervine-relaxant, decongestant, antiemetic

SYSTEMS

digestive, nervous, respiratory, urinary

INDICATIONS  

digestive upset, colic, morning sickness, motion sickness, fevers and colds, flu, IBS, tension headaches, indigestion headaches, nasal congestion, spasms of the urinary tract

PREPARATION + DOSAGE (INTERNAL)

  • Food: common ingredient in cocktails, sweets + treats, salads, chutneys, and more.  Fresh tasting it gives a lift to a recipe.  I’m partial to a mint julep myself.  See Herbal Tzatziki Sauce Recipe.
  • Tea: 1 tsp per cup of water. Steep covered to preserve the aromatics. Often added to tea blends to brighten and lift the formula. (See Springtime Tea)
  • Tincture: Fresh Herb [1:2, 95%] Alcohol; Dry Herb [1:5, 40-60%] Brandy Preferred
  • Glycerite: Dry Herb [1:5, 60%] Glycerine
  • Spirit of Peppermint: [1:10] meaning 1 part of Peppermint Essential Oil to 10 parts 95% Ethanol. 
  • Hydrosol: Add 1 tsp per cup and sip.  Also delightful misted over a cocktail. Can be used as part of the  water portion for tincture or glycerite preparation.
  • Syrup: Peppermint + Licorice Syrup is amazing!  We serve it a lot at the Dublin Herb Bike.  You an watch it being made in the Free School’s Syrup Video.

PAIRINGS (INTERNAL)

PREPARATION + DOSAGE (EXTERNAL)

  • Leaves: roll up two mint leaves to make tubes and insert them into your nostrils to clear up a stuffy head (per Christopher Hedley)
  • Essential Oil for Inhalation 
  • Inhaler Stick: Place 6-10 drops in an aromatic inhaler stick.  Use as needed.
  • Steam: Place a few drops (you can always add more) into a bowl of just boiled water. Cover with a towel.  
  • Hydrosol: Refreshing to the skin.  Also soothing and calming to skin inflammation. Apply liberally. 
  • Tea (Soak): Compress for chest to open the lungs.

PAIRINGS (EXTERNAL)

  • Bug Bites: with Lavender
  • Respiratory: with other respiratory opening herbs such as Thyme or Oregano. 

SAFETY/ CAUTIONS

  • Food-like and generally considered safe.
  • Use with caution if you suffer from the following: acid reflux, hiatal hernia, GERD as the peppermint can relax the esophageal sphincter (the gate between the stomach and esophagus), exacerbating the problem.  Although some folks use enteric coated capsules to bypass the stomach and avoid this problem.