Looks innocent enough, but that lush green herb growing amid your other spices has magical and far-reaching beauty and medicinal properties that can liven up everything from your physical health to your dinner table. Mint leaves make promises to the senses, so breathe deeply when caring for your plants and you'll enjoy many benefits offered by this all-purpose herb.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Mint plants
Crumble mint leaves and add them to liquids to treat a variety of ailments. Mint leaves include biological agents that tackle gastrointestinal ailments like upset stomach, menstrual cramps, colic, nausea, flatulence and vomiting. Heat milk with crushed mint leaves to soothe little tummies and try freshly brewed mint tea next time you experience a gallstone attack, irritable bowel syndrome flair or get a cold.
Stimulate your appetite---or that of an ailing friend or relative whose medical or psychological diagnosis has made eating difficult. Add mint leaves to soups or make tea with honey. Serve the mint leaf tea or soup half an hour before the main meal for optimal appetite stimulation.
Treat your face to a mint-leaf astringent. Add a handful of mint leaves to a quart of water, mix and chill until you're ready to use it. An elixir of mint and rosemary leaves soaked in vinegar, sealed and mulled in a dark place for a week, is recommended by herbalists to control dandruff. Prepare face packs from half a container of undoctored yoghurt, a quarter of a cucumber and mint leaves, mashed and applied to the skin for 15 minutes.
Add crushed mint leaves to tabbouleh for a healthy side dish of tomato, garlic and bulgar. Include mint and rosemary when you mix up your favourite blend of pesto. Prepare traditional mint sauce for lamb using fresh mint leaves instead of what comes in spice bottles and try mixing boiled potatoes with mint for a great-tasting meal addition.
Celebrate the humble mint leaf by chopping up 10 leaves, adding them to sugar, lime juice and rum to produce individual Cuban Mojitos at your next summer party or salute the Kentucky Derby year-round by preparing frosty juleps with sprigs of freshly picked mint (silver cups not required).
Follow the advice of ancient healers by using mint plants in place of commercial room deodorisers. See if you get the side benefit these wise sages promise: leave mint plants and leaves around the house to combat ants, fleas and mice; especially if allergies and other ailments require you to use natural rather than chemical pesticides.
Tips and warnings
- Choose peppermint over spearmint leaves to get the best medicinal result, but if treating kids, parents may find spearmint leaves to be more easily tolerated.
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