The myth comes to us thanks to the Metamorphoses, the poem written by the Roman poet Ovid. And the myth speaks of the nymph Myntha, daughter of the god of rivers and endowed with a unique beauty that made anyone who looked at her fall in love. Unfortunately, Pluto, the god of the Underworld, fell in love with her. And when Proserpina, Pluto's wife, noticed it, she, blinded by her anger, transformed Myntha into a plant, which could not attract attention due to its normal shape and color. Pluto, grieved, could not oppose the will of his wife, but he made a last gift to Myntha, he gave the plant in which she was transformed an unmistakable aroma, so that the beauty of the girl was never lost. But mint not only has a fascinating aroma, it is also a valuable source of properties, both in the form of tea, essential oil and whole leaves. Let's try to understand better.
Messeguè mint tea, a real tonic
The well known French herbalist Messeguè, in his book My herbarium, talks about a herbal tea that he himself had developed as a tonic for the champions of the Tour of France. Bring a liter of water to a boil, remove from heat and add 6 pinches of dried mint and 2 pinches of dried rosemary. Leave to infuse for ten minutes, then filter and drink. This herbal tea exploits the energizing properties of mint, capable of counteracting fatigue, both physical and mental, but also improving cognitive performance and attention (Norrish et al, Int J Psychophysiol, 2005 - Kennedy et al, Nutrients, 2018).
Peppermint for digestion and abdominal cramps
Peppermint promotes digestion, relaxes the gastrointestinal tract by relieving abdominal cramps, is beneficial in case of irritable bowel syndrome but works also against menstrual cramps, counteracts nausea, stimulates the work of liver and pancreas and acts with a carminative action (McKay et al, Phytother Res, 2006 - Anheyer et al, Pediatrics, 2017). You can add fresh mint leaves to your preparations, such as pasta with aromatic herbs or even aubergines with herbs or summer cold pasta, all tasty and healthy recipes that you can find in the Healthy Food section. Or you can make a mint tea. Bring a cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add 2 pinches of dried mint leaves or 2 or 3 crumpled fresh mint leaves. Let all brew for ten minutes, then filter and drink.
Peppermint for the respiratory tract
Mint has an antispasmodic action and is therefore useful for calming coughs but also other respiratory tract diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. Mint helps to clear closed airways due to colds or allergies (Hebrew et al, Harefuah, 2008). So in these cases it can help to breathe a few drops of mint oil poured on a handkerchief or drink a mint infusion, prepared by infusing for ten minutes in a cup of boiling water 1 pinch of dried mint or a couple of fresh and crumpled leaves.
Peppermint and anti-stress action
Mint has a calming and relaxing action, which helps in case of nervousness and anxiety (McKay et al, Phytother Res, 2006). A mint tea soothes and relaxes. As seen in the previous paragraphs, you can make mint tea by boiling a cup of water. Remove from the heat and add a pinch of dried mint or a few leaves of fresh mint, let it rest for ten minutes, then filter and drink.
Peppermint against pain and infections
Mint is soothing, antiseptic and anesthetic (McKay et al, Phytother Res, 2006). Therefore, it can be of help in case of headaches but also problems with the teeth and gums. It has been observed that applying with a massage a few drops of essential oil of peppermint, diluted in a spoonful of vegetable oil such as sunflower but also olive or jojoba oil, on the temples and forehead allowed to reduce the pain caused by migraine in a couple of hours (Haghighi et al, Int J Clin Pract, 2010). In case of gingivitis and dental problems, however, you can prepare a decoction to use for gargle, to soothe pain but also protect the health of the oral cavity, counteracting pathogens and even bad breath (Thosar et al, Eur J Dent, 2013). Bring a cup of water to a boil along with 1 tablespoon of dried mint leaves or some fresh leaves, simmer for a few minutes, then strain and let cool before using to rinse. Not only that, mint, for external applications, is a remedy in case of sores and inflammations (Messeguè, my herbarium).
Peppermint for the hair
Peppermint essential oil is also beneficial for the hair. In fact, studies have observed that this essence promotes hair growth, making it even healthier and stronger (Oh et al, Toxicol Res, 2014). Not only that, mint oil also helps to counteract and soothe skin itching (Elsaie et al, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol., 2016). In a small bowl, pour two tablespoons of jojoba or grapeseed oil, add a drop of peppermint essential oil and apply to moistened scalp. Leave on for ten minutes, then proceed with your regular shampoo.
Peppermint essential oil should always be used diluted, and never orally, as it is very concentrated. So limit yourself to using mint essential oil for external applications, one or two drops in two tablespoons of vegetable oil, at this concentration the mint oil is considered safe and well tolerated (Nair et al, Int J Toxicol, 2001). Do not exceed the doses as mint oil contains a substance, pulegone, which is toxic. Internally, you can use fresh mint leaves or mint tea instead. Mint is generally considered safe but be careful with stomach acid and ulcers, as it could make these conditions worse. Despite its antispasmodic action, it is best to avoid mint before going to sleep as it could disturb sleep. Finally, be careful even if you are taking any medications. In this case, always ask your doctor for advice as the essential oils of mint, which you find in fresh leaves but also in tea, can interfere with the ability of the liver to metabolize certain types of medicines, such as some antidepressants, antihistamines, antifungals, anticoagulants and antibiotics (Samojlik et al, Phytother Res, 2012 - Kobayashi et al, Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 2019