Mint: Medicinal Uses


| August/September 1997


Mints are so well known that they hardly require description. We encounter their essential oils daily as flavoring for everything from toothpaste and chewing gums to alcoholic beverages and herbal teas. In minute, nearly undetectable quantities, they also enhance the flavor of many packaged foods.

Of the eighteen species and hundreds of varieties and cultivars of the genus Mentha, two stand out because of their medicinal uses: spearmint (M. spicata) and peppermint (M. ¥ piperita). Peppermint, a hybrid between water mint (M. aqua­tica) and spearmint, is the preeminent medicinal mint, easily distinguished from spearmint by its menthol fragrance. Carvone dominates the scent of spearmint.

Peppermint and Spearmint In History

In European phytomedicine today, peppermint leaf tea is used to treat indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, colds, headache and cramps.

Spearmint (identified in older writings as M. viridis or M. sativa) has a much longer history of medicinal use than peppermint. It was so commonly grown and used that it was rarely described in herbals; it is known to have been cultivated in every convent garden in Europe by the nineteenth century. A tea made from the leaves was considered useful for digestive upset, and The Edinburgh New Dispensatory (1789) recommended “Aqua mentha sativa” (spearmint water), made by lightly distilling spearmint leaves with three times their weight in water over low heat, as “a pres­ent and incomparable remedy for strengthening a weak stomach and curing vomiting proceeding from cold viscous phlegm.”

As early as 1704, however, Ray’s Historia Plantarum was touting “peper mint” (designated as M. palustris) as a superior mint for treating “stomach weakness” and diarrhea. By 1721, peppermint leaves had attained official status in the London Pharmacopoeia, although spearmint was still the medicinal mint of choice.

Peppermint’s popularity spread to the New World. One of the Shakers’ first medicinal preparations in the late 1700s at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine was a distilled peppermint water used as a digestive cordial. Samuel Stearn’s American Herbal (1801) listed this and other virtues:





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265