It’s MINT season! And my dear friend Jessica has started a rolling snowball of interest on the how-to’s of utilizing this aromatic herb. Mint should be growing rampantly in your garden and wild places - there are SOOO many varieties from wild species to cultivars like chocolate mint. This prolific weed is super hardy and thrives with watering. Plan to use the leaves, although I do throw some stems into my fresh infusions with wild abandon! The more you prune the plant, the more it grows! So don’t be afraid to cut it, harvesting the aerial parts for adding fresh to teas, salads, cocktails, water, cooked dishes, AND dry it in a cool, dark place for using throughout the winter months. Baking trays and cooling screens work great for drying; just spread it out, let it dry thoroughly, and store in a sealed jar with a label.
Now let’s discuss what MINT does energetically. We’ll focus on the Peppermint/Spearmint varieties, as their are many plants in the mint family, some with other properties. Mint is a cooling plant. It cools the body by warming. Crazy huh? Yep, Herbalism is famous for this type of understanding. Because mint warms the body and opens channels of elimination allowing internal heat to disperse, the overall effect is cooling. Hence, it’s helpful for hot summer days, fever, or those that are always hot. This mint action is called diaphoretic. Mint is also a carminative, which is the action of aiding digestion by eliminating stomach upset, gas/bloating, and poor absorption of food values. Mint stimulates the digestive process, liver and gall bladder, circulatory and respiratory systems. In doing all of this the immune system is also boosted! Mint is a stimulating herb. This is why it helps to decongest, warm cold extremities, elevate mental clarity, and MOVE body systems towards balance. Mint is also antispasmodic aiding in conditions of muscle and respiratory spasm like asthma. Hence it’s unique ability to relax the body and aid in musculature discomfort (try making a mint salve) Mint is antimicrobial, meaning it kills viruses, bacteria and fungus. Another reason why it’s helpful to have on hand during winters cold/flu season. Because mint contains tannins it has astringent properties which are a huge part of its effectiveness. Remember, astringents tighten and tone tissue. So used long term mint can be drying, although it is a milder herb.
I use mint in sooo many of our tea blends. There is no other herb quite like it for boosting flavor, or masking the bitter tastes of many healing herbs. Plus, as a stimulant herb, the mint action helps to ‘push’ the other herbs into the body! Currently with hot temps prevailing throughout the day, we are infusing fresh peppermint, spearmint and lemon verbena leaves into water steeped in the sun for a yummy, cooling summer drink! With honey of course!
Who has a mint recipe to share? Mint with feta salads sound divine. Share your recipes! And get to harvesting those leaves! Remember that mint is an aromatic full of essential oils on each leaf, so fresh is best but dried will be a game changer come winter.
Note of caution where children are concerned; MINT IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR INFANTS OR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF TWO. Because of its stimulating action on the respiratory system it is recommended to refrain from using on youngsters until their bodies have fully matured.