Mint is one of the most iconic flavors of summer, and this cooling, refreshing herb is a God-send to our digestive system.
The myriad herb plants stemming from the Mentha family are varied in their appearance, flavor, and healing properties. For example, the Bo He plant in China (Mentha haplocalyx) has it’s first mention in Chinese history books in 500 CE, and has been used for centuries as a popular treatment for sore throats, colds, and stomach disorders. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) has a long history in Europe and the Americas as a digestive tonic. And of course, there are the better known strains of mint that are more common to modern Western use, namely spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha x piperita), which is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint.
No matter which variation of plant you use from the Mentha family, one thing is consistent across strains: mint’s chief therapeutic value lies in its ability to relieve gas, flatulence, constipation and bloating.
Mint aids the digestive system by increasing the flow of digestive juices and relaxing the gut muscles. It reduces nausea, colic, cramps, gas, and soothes an irritated bowel. In soothing the lining and muscles of the colon, it helps diarrhea and relieves a spastic colon (which is often the root cause of constipation). When a small amount of mint essential oil is applied to the temples, it can also help relieve headaches and migraines. It can also be rubbed on the chest when you’re fighting a bad cough or respiratory infection.
Mint is fabulous in both sweet and savory dishes, and it grows like crazy in the garden (which is one reason we keep it contained in a separate pot). The more you pick and eat, the more it thrives, so try it on top of a fruit salad, in a smoothie, a hot or cold tea, with a lamb dinner, or in homemade popsicles for the kids.