Just hearing the words "fresh mint" on a warm summer day and my mind conjures up the southern symbol of hospitality, a lengthy sprig of green mint submerged in frosty glasses or icy silver cups of lemonade filled with mint leaves…. Whichever way one eats it, drinks it, or prepares it, mint is an herb with many beneficial uses for good health. In fact, the reason most of our ancestors grew this pungent herb was for its many health benefits.
Even today, naturalist still employ peppermint to treat gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome and the common cold. The herb, mint, belongs to a large family with over 30 species, the most common being peppermint and spearmint Mint is a perennial and its seeds can be sowed in flats or in the ground. Once the tenacious herbs take hold in your garden, it is very easy to propagate them by cuttings and transplanting once the root system is well established. Mint needs humid soil and only moderate sunshine. It will grow in, out and around all garden plants, not unlike a weed; this herb is tenacious and dedicated to spreading through the garden.
The trick is to continuously cut it back and restrict growth. Otherwise this herb will spread like wild fire through your garden in the form of strong willed runners. Frequently cutting or mowing of large plots will keep mints at their prettiest. In late fall, cut back to the ground and mulch if winters are severe. Mint is a storehouse of medicinal properties. It is an air freshener, mouth freshener, antacid, helps in digestive problems, soothes frayed nerves and may even cure cancer. Mint has been a part of both the cuisine and medicinal world. It is used as a flavouring agent in many preparations. Spearmint is used for culinary purposes since it is not as strongly flavoured as peppermint. It is added to chutneys, sauces, dressings, curries, soups, sambhar, biryanis, marinating of meats and even in desserts, chocolates and cakes. Parathas and khakras can be made more nutritive by adding mint to its dough.
• In hot summer days, a glass of cold water with lime and a dash of mint in it can be very soothing and cooling
•A teaspoonful of mint juice can help get back your healthy appetite
•Packed with vitamins and essential minerals, mint helps us to increase resistance against many diseases and maintain a healthy body
•Being rich in carotene and vitamin C, it protects our body from harmful free radicals. Although the consumption of mint is small, the vital nutrients obtained are beneficial to our health •A cupful of mint tea in the morning gives you a refreshing start to the day. It helps in digestion if taken after heavy meals
•A quarter teaspoon of mint seeds can be taken for abdominal pain caused by spasms and in cases of hyperacidity. The menthol present in the mint facilitates good digestion and exerts anti-spasmodic action thus is effective in abdominal cramp •Add black salt to the mint leaves infusion and alleviate yourself from any worm infestation in the stomach •When taken with lime juice, ginger juice and honey, it gives relief to women suffering from morning sickness
•Powdered dry mint is regarded as a harmless herb for birth control
•An infusion of mint leaves can also be used to stimulate menstruation in cases of dysmenorrhoea. •Mint kills odour-producing germs. Chewing few leaves helps get rid of bad breath, whitens the teeth and leaves a cool sensation in mouth. It strengthens gums and prevents tooth decay. A gargle of warm water with a teaspoonful of mint extract and salt gives relief from sore throat. It is effective in headache, rhinitis, and cough.
• It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and is also a good expectorant. It liquefies the sputum and reduces congestion in air passages.
So, it is beneficial to asthmatic patients. It helps strengthen the immune system and protects against infection. It acts as a mild sedative and is found to alleviate migraine pains, minor aches, muscle sprains and cramps. --