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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mint and its Multitude of Uses

Peppermint is just one of many types of mint in the Mentha family. Though very common in the world of herbs mint is certainly not a lowly plant.
Known as the herb of hospitality, mint has long been used everywhere from the kitchen to the sickroom. Peppermint and spearmint are the most common types of mint, but there are several varieties that can be found at your local nursery in the herb section. A good way to identify whether a plant is in the mint family is to feel the stem. If it is squared rather than round it is in the mint family. Mints are low to no maintenance perennial plants. They are so hardy, they'll be happy to take over your entire garden. The roots spread by way of runners, so If you don't want it to continue to creep along, it is best to plant it in buried containers.

Peppermint has a powerful, menthol aroma that refreshes, energizes and improves mental clarity just by inhaling the steam from a cup of hot tea. Have a supply of mint tea on hand as well as a bottle of the essential oil. So many ailments can be eased with this one plant. Nausea can be relieved, cramping belly aches can be settled, pounding headaches can fade away, congestion can open up, aching, tired feet can perk up, heat flashes can be cooled, overexerted, sore muscles can relax, even kill germs in the air.

You probably already have minty products in your home cabinets, such as toothpaste, candles, mint candy, air sprays, soap, cough medicines, even cigarettes. However, it is unlikely that those scents are the real thing, most likely they were manufactured in a lab and what you are smelling is the synthetic version. Unless the scent is from the pure, therapeutic plant essential oils, don't expect to get the health benefits you wanted.

Just a few notes so you understand the difference between peppermint in herb form versus the essential oil. Essential oils are very concentrated and should always be diluted before applying to the skin, used with caution while pregnant, and should not be used with very young children.
Herbal peppermint in tea form is wonderful for pregnant women to help with nausea, but the essential oil may be too strong for the baby. It is okay to apply a few drops onto a tissue and breathe it in but don't apply the spray directly onto your skin.
Peppermint herbal tea is great for children's belly aches, nausea or headaches but in essential oil form it may be too strong for children under the age of eight. Please check with physician
People with high blood pressure, please check with your physician before using this product.

The use of aromatherapy can be wonderful when used safely. Adding just a few drops to a simmer pot releases the plant essences into the air which kill germs and help little ones breathe and sleep better. An old favorite I've used often when my children were small is the combination of:
3 drops lavender, 3 drops eucalyptus and 2 drops peppermint. There is no need to add more than a 10 drop total when using a diffuser, atomizer or simmer pot. The rule with essential oils is less is more. 

Below are wonderful products utilizing either the herbal infusion in olive oil or peppermint essential oil:

 This versatile spray can be used for a multitude of purposes. Liberally spray yourself from head to toe as a way of cooling off should the discomfort be coming from the temperature outside, overexertion from a workout, or in getting through another heat flash.
Spray your counter tops or windowsills to deter the pathways of ants entering your home.
Spray areas you suspect mice are scurrying at night. Rodents detest the strong odor of mint.
Spray a tissue and inhale when feeling a pang of nausea in a moving vehicle.
Spray your fingertips and rub your temples to help relieve a throbbing headache.
Spray a tissue and inhale to open congested sinus passages.

Salt baths are so common that we often forget the fact that "the simpler the better". A soak in warm salt water has long been used for achy joints, muscles, and tired feet, as well as a periodic detoxification. The addition of essential oils add their own therapeutic value as well as the pleasure of the aroma.
The addition of peppermint turns a warm bath into a helpful remedy for relieving clogged sinuses, sore muscles, throbbing headaches, as well as mental and physical fatigue. After a day's work in the heat or hours on your feet, a peppermint bath or foot soak will help bring a bounce back in your step. Realize,however, that being peppermint is stimulating, it will perk you up rather than help you relax for a night's sleep.

We demand a lot from our tired feet, therefore proper care and pampering should not be overlooked. This foot soak salt blend is wonderful to rejuvenate not only your feet but also your mood after a long day. Great to use as a preventative to fungal problems or as a natural treatment if you already are bothered by itchy feet.

Congestion, seasonal allergies, cold and flu symptoms, sinus headaches all contribute to breathing discomfort. Home herbal remedies can make breathing a little easier.
If you look at commercial vapor balms,you'll notice they probably contain ingredients such as thymol, menthol, and eucalyptol. These are components of the essential oils: thyme, mint, and eucalyptus. This vapor balm can be applied onto the chest, back or feet. Should you want to increase its warming action lay a warm piece of flannel over the area.
An option to help open clogged sinuses is to apply just a bit under the nose.

Children's Hurting Tummy Oil is a combination of peppermint-infused olive oil and an essential oil blend of chamomile, lemongrass and fennel. These herbs have a wonderful reputation for the relief of cramping and nausea. Belly massages are wonderful to relax and calm down colicky babies. Painful tightening of the stomach and intestinal muscles, gas and nausea can result from various sources: improper eating habits, emotional stress, or a moving vehicle.

If you have access to fresh mint, try cutting and making your own herbal tea, wonderful cold or hot. Cut enough stems to fill a large soup pot. Be sure the plants you are cutting were not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Mint shouldn't need either one but just know for sure before using the plants. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, cock the lid so it doesn't overflow. Let the tea simmer about 5 to 10 minutes, depending how strong you like your tea. You don't want to simmer it too long or you'll lose the important essential oils in the steam. Strain out the plant material and add sugar to taste. For sweet tea, 1 cup sugar to a gallon of tea is tasty. Enjoy a cup of hot tea right away and let the rest cool and store in the refrigerator for ice tea. This is wonderfully refreshing on a hot day.