In fall (early October) I like to go around the garden before the first frost hits and gather some of my favorite plants. It is a cherished ritual that I use to close out the herbal year. A way of saying goodbye to and thanking “my friends” until I see them again come April. I gather I small amount of those that call out to me. Then I make 2 quarts of tea which I refrigerate and enjoy for the rest of the week. This time I chose Hops, Calendula, Plantain, Marshmallow, Echinacea, Rose hips, Red Raspberry, and Mint. Any “nutritive” herb will work. Today I decided to talk about mint because I have been drinking the tea a lot lately. It has strong volatile oils that that open, clear, and get things moving. This herb is also a great choice if you have a condition that requires a cooling action. Here is is early and I can still find small fresh amounts of it growing in the garden. At the moment Mint likes to hideout close to the ground under the apple leaves. Of course you can make this special tea any time of year when you feel the need connect on a deeper level to medicinal plants.
Mentha is in the mint/Lamiaceae family and includes both peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint( Mentha spicata). Peppermint is a hybrid perennial plant that is most often found cultivated in gardens. This herb is highly aromatic( menthol). It has erect, square, branching, purple stems. It’s opposite leaves are opposite, oval/lance shaped and often serrated. The sepals and petals are united to form tiny purple flower that have 5 two lipped lobes (2 up, 3 down). These are arranged at the ends of axillary and terminal spikes. Spearmint lacks the purple hues in it’s foliage and is a more vibrant green. The leaves are often greater in number, larger and more serrated and “wrinkled”. They are sessile and have a very short petiole where they join the stem. This plant is usually taller than peppermint. The flowers are more numerous/dense on a larger , interrupted spike. Mints can be invasive and spread quickly through their rhizomes. They will tolerate any kind of soil and thrive in both sun and shade. Grow mints near your vegetables to keep them free of insects and other pests. These plants are a favorite of native bees.
Mints are known for their ability to clean damp/phlegm, increase circulation to the tissues and relax blood vessels. Their volatile oils warm the body, open the pores, and encourage sweating. Historically they been used to treat cramps, spasms, colds, coughs, flu, fever, sinus infections, sore throat, headaches, high blood pressure, menstrual problems, painful urination, nausea/vomiting, heartburn, stomach ache/colic, gas, digestive issues, liver stagnation, ulcers, parasites, bad breath, gum disease, nervous disorders and fainting. Externally mint has been used to treat pain, inflammation, rheumatism, bruises, rashes, hives, bug bites, and skin issues. A steam inhalation may help with asthma, bronchitis, chest congestion and laryngitis. Mints improve the flavor of other teas, are used in many culinary traditions, and can be burned as incense. Spearmint tends to have a sweeter, less spicy/hot/medicinal flavor than peppermint.
Parts used:aerial above ground parts
Energetics: sweet, pungent, cool, warm, dry
Element: fire and water depending on variety
Emotional and Spiritual Uses:Prosperity. protection. Brings movement, openness, and warmth to life. Allows the mind to think quickly and clearly so that we can envision and future and manifest our dreams.
Contraindications: Avoid large doses in pregnancy and nursing. Long term therapeutic use can stress the heart.