Mentha piperita or arvensis – Folium (Labiatae)
Mint (E), Peppermint (E), Horsemint (E), Pudina (H), Puthia (H)
This hardy perennial is famously fragrant. It is full of aromatic menthol which ‘wakes up’ the senses and decongests the orifices of the head as well as calming and relaxing digestion.
Mint is a perennial herb that grows from March to October and flowers from June to October. Mint plants can be distinguished easily from the fresh, cleansing scent emitted from their leaves. All mints have a similar basic structure; they will grow from 40-60-cm in height and up to 60cm in width. They have a spreading root structure from which they send up new shoots. The stems of the plant are square and elongated and the leaves are finely serrated. The flowers of mint plants are often a pale purple and will form tight whorls around the stem which diminish in size the further up the stem they appear. Peppermint and spearmint were introduced to Britain by the Romans and have now become naturalised throughout Europe, often found growing in the wild close to water or waste ground.
How it Works
The mint family of plants have a high level of essential oil with a high concentration of menthol. It is menthol that gives the plant its distinctive scent and taste, but it is also this component that is responsible for the medicinal activity displayed by this family of plants. Menthol acts as an analgesic, working by ‘freezing’ out pain from the muscles, relieving strain and tension. In the digestive tract, menthol will reduce the contractile responses of the digestive muscles, relieving digestive cramping. Menthol also reduces spasms induced as a result of the allergic response and histamine cascades, particularly within the respiratory and digestive systems but also the skin. Menthol is a volatile aromatic and when inhaled has demonstrated the ability to decongest and remove excessive levels of phlegm from the airways but also relieve nervous and muscular tension that may be influencing headaches and migraines. Menthol also displays strong antibacterial and antifungal activity.
Into the Heart of Mint
Mint is an excellent decongestant, acting primarily within the digestive, respiratory and nervous system relieving signs of congestion and associated tension. It is a carminative and digestive antispasmodic, reducing discomfort influenced by wind, bloating and colic but also stimulating the flow of bile and digestive enzymes. The menthol component of the essential oil makes the plant excellent at removing excessive catarrh but also opening up the airways and blood vessels easing the symptoms of cold and flu but also sinusitis and migraine. The analgesic properties of menthol make mint helpful in reducing pain associated with nervous or muscular tension within the body.
GIT: Indicated in nervous digestion, flatulence, bloating, IBS, ulcers, nausea and anorexia. Specifically for hot inflammation and irritation causing gastritis and enteritis. The aromatic essential oils can help to alleviate morning sickness, vomiting and spasms in the gastrointestinal tract.
Immune: Commonly used as a hot tea to influence diaphoresis (sweating) in colds and flu. As Mint moves upwards and outwards it is especially useful at unblocking congestion and is indicated where the lungs are congested with catarrh and constricted by spasms causing wheezing or asthma.
Nervous: Indicated where there may be mental and emotional tension and constriction by normalising the ‘flow of movement’ around the body. It opens the mind and lifts ‘heaviness’.
Skin: Indicated for external use through cooling and soothing skin inflammation, hot flushes and allergic itching.
Gynaecology: Indicated in menstrual congestion, pain and amenorrhoea due to its ability to reduce congestion in the body.