Don’t you just love the smell of peppermint this time of year? From peppermint tea, to candles, to essential oils…it’s so festive, and surprisingly, this herb comes with many health benefits too! Peppermint is a plant of the mint family, similar to the mint you might grow in your garden and add to iced tea or lemonade in the summer months. While today we’ll be diving into wild mint, know that peppermint has many of these same properties, although with a stronger aromatic scent.
Wild mint naturally grows across Canada, as you can find it in growing in meadows, riverbanks, and lakeshores. It is best gathered during the summer, and when stored properly, keeps its strong scent and flavour. Its aroma is quite refreshing and has a subtle earth-like smell and flavour. Mint is most commonly used for tea and spice, but may also be used in many other ways such as in a mint-infused hydrosol spray (so refreshing!) or mixed with witch hazel to make an all-natural deoderant.
You’ll notice wild mint has cooling properties, and therefore promote healing through anti-inflammatory effects. Mint is also known to be a mild local anesthetic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, a digestive, a stimulant, and anti-rheumatic. It contains vitamins A, C, K, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Drinking mint tea can help ease digestion, gas, heartburn, and ulcers, while also relieving cramps and nausea. With regards to cardiovascular health, it is a vasodilator, meaning it can stimulate enhanced circulation and may help reduce heart palpitations. Mint is also great for relieving the symptoms of a cold or flu by reducing excess mucus and helping to lower fevers. Tip: you can use a cold mint tea bag as a compress to help reduce fevers, reduce inflammation for itchy dry skin like eczema, and to help reduce joint pain from arthritis. Note that mint is not a relaxant, it in fact has a stimulating effect, so drinking it in the morning may help to clear a tired mind and may also help prevent headaches!
Wild mint can also be added to foods. A few fun ideas include:
- Wild mint ice cubes. Place a mint leaf in cold water and freeze. Adding these ice cubes into drinks will be so refreshing! Use it to make iced teas, or try adding it to the bottom of home-made popsicles for a fun (and healthy!) twist.
- Add fresh or dried mint to fruit salads.
- Try adding mint to hummus for a fresh take on this savoury dish.
- Mint jelly. If you’re familiar with making jam or jelly, why not try making it from mint? It tastes great on crackers with goat cheese, or can be added to icecream as well.
- Wild mint liqueur. Add a flavourful spin to your home-made drinks.
As an essential oil, mint claims to clear excess mind clutter that can cloud our judgement. Today, we live in a world with much electromagnetic pollution that affects our minds, so mint essence helps us to rebalance, be clear, and focused. The scent is also thought to be restorative, and aids with memory and concentration. It is wonderful added to facial steams, facial masks, foot soaks, creams, soaps, and as a facial tonic to help clear acne as well!
Note: please make sure to consult your naturopath or medical doctor prior to taking mint to ensure it is right for you.
If you decide to try wild mint, let me know how you used it in the comments below!