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Mint - Medicinal and Cosmetic Uses
Mints belong to the genus Mentha, in the family Labiatae (Lamiaceae) which includes other commonly grown oil-yeilding plants such as basil, sage, rosemary, marjoram, lavender and thyme. Within the genus mentha there are several different species, varying in their appearance, aroma, and end use. The most common ones are spearmint (mentha x spicata) peppermint (mentha x piperita) orange mint (mentha x aguatica citrata) and applemint (mentha x rotundifolia). All are low-growing plants, readily sending out runners, or stolans, which develop new roots and shoots at the nodes.
Medicinal Uses of Mint
It is best to consult a physician before self-treating any potential ailment or symptom. Both the herb and the extruded oil of mint can be used medicinally. Mint oil is extruded from the whole plant or just the leaves using a number of different techniques - mainly steam distillation allowing the natural oils to surface.
It can take hundreds of leaves to produce just a few teaspoons of mint oil, but just a couple of drops can be extremely powerful.
Unlike many other natural remedies, mint has actually been laboratory tested and proven to have significant benefits particularly for gastro-intestinal problems. The most recent research is uncovering how peppermint oil is effective in relieving irritable bowel syndrome with promising early results.
Herbal Remedies Using Mint
The use of herbal remedies using mints (mentha x spicata Spearmint and mentha x piperita Peppermint) are popular as an alternative to standard Western allopathic medicine for a variety of problems, including digestion, heartburn as well as nausea. They should not however replace conventional medicine or prescription drugs.
Herbal Tea (infusion)
Mint in the form of mentha x spicata Spearmint used in the form of a herbal tea (infusion) is reported to have many therapeutic properties for conditions listed below:
Mentha benefits -
Colic in children
Refreshing the body
The leaves are used for making herbal tea and the standard way to make an infusion, unless otherwise specified, is to pour a cup of boiling water over the material to be infused, let it stand for 5 minutes, strain it and drink it. Mint tastes very good going down!
General warning when using herbal infusions
Only use the herbal material if you are 100% sure that it really is the herb in question.
If you are ill or have any health concerns, consult your GP.
Do not continuously drink the same infusion. At a maximum use for 7 days then rest for 7 days.
Only have one cup of herbal infusion in any one day. Unless you have a cold or flu, when you can then have a herbal infusion 3 times in any day for up to 4 days.
When you use herbal remedies, be aware that they can be extremely powerful, and should you have any side effects when taking these infusions, immediately stop using the herb and consult your GP straight away.
Fresh Mint (spearmint and peppermint) sprigs are great to put in your tea-pot with your favourite tea. It is believed they reduce the adverse effects of tannin and caffeine. Pick the tip of the mint plant off, wash it and add to your tea-pot. Allow to infuse for 3-4 minutes, or slightly longer for a more potent flavour.
Cosmetic Uses of Mint
Mint Oil is commonly used for cosmetic purposes and has a wide use in tooth paste, mouth wash, chewing gum, sweets, hair oil, perfume, cigarettes and cosmetic products. Mint oil is also frequently added to massage oil, lotions and shampoos.
Fresh or dried leaves are used in scent sachets and for pot-pourri. These leaves can also be used in the bath to refresh and cool the skin. They can also used in facial scrubs to cleanse the skin.
Major components in spearmint oil are carvons, dipentent, dihydrocarveol, dihydrocarveol acetate, and limonene.