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Mint Print E-mail

Native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, mints interbreed so easily it is often hard for even the experts to distinguish and separate all the varieties. All mints have the volatile oil menthol, which gives mint that characteristic cooling, cleansing feeling. The Greeks believed mints could clear the voice and cure hiccups.

Mint leaves, without a qualifier like peppermint or apple mint, generally refers to spearmint leaves. In Central and South America, mint is known as hierbabuena (literally, "good herb"). The taxonomic family Lamiaceae is known as the mint family.
It includes many other aromatic herbs, including most of the more common cooking herbs, including basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, and catnip. In common usage, several other plants with fragrant leaves may be erroneously called a mint. Most mints are natives of the Mediterranean region. They are hardy perennial plants, and they are usually easy to grow. They have bright green leaves on bushy plants. Flowers include white, blue and pink. Most varieties grow 12-24 inches. Once planted, mints will come back year, after year, after year and they require little or no maintenance. In the tropical regions from Costa Rica it is a bit harder, we recommend to grow them in pots in a sandy soil and keep them in a shady spot.

Mints are great in herb gardens, in beds along the house, or in containers and can be grown indoors as houseplants. They are typically grown from seed. Get an early start planting it indoors as a houseplant. Or, directly sow seeds into your garden in the spring. Space seedlings or thin plants to 12" to 18" apart. Established plants are prolific and produce suckers in the second and following years. They can also be grown from cuttings. To avoid uncontrolled spread and crowding out of other plants, it is better to plant mint in a separate garden bed or plant it in containers above ground. Space plants two feet apart. Frequent cutting will promote branching. Propagate by dividing clumps.

Peppermint has dark green leaves with a reddish stem and lavender flowers. Spearmint has lighter green, pointy leaves and pink flowers. Apple mint has light green foliage and pineapple mint has green leaves that are banded with white.
All can grow up to two feet tall and become quite invasive. Their scent is realeased when brushed against or bruised.
Just prior to flowering, cut stems one inch above the soil.
You may harvest mint two or three times in one season.

Mint, however well known in the U.S., is by no means a universal culinary flavoring, especially once one leaves sweets and desserts behind. The French despise the herb, the English adore it, the Spanish and the Italians use it somewhat, the cultures of the Middle East and of India use it heavily, and so it goes.

One problem with mint is that, as a strong flavor, it doesn’t mixes well with many other flavorings; but there are certain foodstuffs that it does complement nicely (it seems to most to work especially well with warm- weather cookery, especially with lamb). Another problem with mint is that the commonly available mint is too strong, because the more subtly flavored types are not so well known. But it would be a poor kitchen with no mint available for use when needed.
Using mint in medicine is an ancient one. It has been in use for the last 2000 years. It was widely used by the Greeks, Romans and the doctors of China and Japan. The wonderful medicinal uses of mint are:

  • Decoction made with mint leaves cures all stomach ailments including indigestion
  • Boil few mint leaves in milk; add sugar to it and drink it
  • when you have stomachache
  • Apply mint juice to acne every night and wash it with cold water early in the morning. This remedy works for dry skin also.
  • Add some salt to mint decoction and gargle with it to get
  • relief from sore throat
  • Apply mint juice on skin affected by Eczema, Scabies and Dermatitis
  • Mix 5 teaspoons lemon juice and 2 teaspoons honey in a ¼ cup mint juice to get relief from acidity, thread worms and Diarrhea
  • Mint tea relieves menstrual cramps and heavy menstruation
  • According to traditional medicine mint is a contraceptive. Taking
  • ½ teaspoon mint powder with water 10 minutes before
  • intercourse prevents pregnancy
  • Taking mint juice at night before going to bed induces restful sleep
  • Taking mint tea half an hour before meals stimulates appetite
  • Infusion made with mint leaves is useful for cold, flu, hiccups and flatulence
  • Keep your breath fresh by chewing some mint leaves
  • Mint helps cure dog bites, scorpion and beestings because
  • mint has an excellent wound healing properties
  • Infusion of mint is good for hypertonic diseases,
  • atherosclerosis, and kidney & liver diseases 
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