Mint, or Minta Spacata, is an herb that is used in summer dishes from lamb to iced tea and even as a garnish on pies. The cool flavor is a welcomed and refreshing relief on hot sultry days. It grows wild near cool running ravines and streams. Common varieties are spearmint and peppermint.
Mint is an invasive plant that can quickly take over a garden. One way to reduce spreading is to plant it in a clay pot, then sink that pot into your herb garden. However, that requires monthly monitoring, especially in the summer, to make sure the roots do not creep out of the pot into the loose soil. Mint loves some shade, but if it gets too much it can become leggy with fewer leaves. Transplant a runner in the early spring after the last frost. Be sure that it gets good air flow from the soil. If the soil seems heavy, mix in some pea gravel, bark chips, or coir.
Keep it well irrigated and well weeded. Some people plant mint as a ground cover under the water spigot. Once it flowers, the growing season is over. It is supposed to die down in the winter but should return in the spring.
You can also grow mint fairly easily indoors or bring it inside for the winter months. Plant the runner in a 10 inch pot with good compost. Keep it trimmed to 6 inches in height so it will bush rather than sprawl. But don’t cut it too much or it may thwart its growth cycle through the year.
Mint is susceptible to rust spots, an orangey growth that can invade its leaves. If you see any, be sure to cut away those leaves so the whole plant does not become infected. Bugs also love mint as much as humans.
Mint Nutritional Content
100 grams of mint has:
Protein 4.8 g
Fat .06 g
Fiber 2 g
Calcium 200 mg
Iron 15.6 mg
Vitamin C 27 mg
Carbohydrates 5.8 mg
Mint contains good amounts of Vitamin A, C, B12, folic acid, thiamine and riboflavin, as well as, minerals such as, calcium, copper, fluoride, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.
Mint Health Benefits
Mint brewed in tea or hot water has been a remedy for digestive problems and stomach cramps for centuries. Of course it is a natural breath freshener. It is also a natural diuretic and has been used to relieve IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and colitis. The oil may reduce and relieve the pain of hemorrhoids.
Its main oil contains menthol which is excellent for the sinuses when inhaled. The oil may also be used as a muscle rub. It is found in many over the counter products from antiseptics to sun burn relief to cough drops and nasal sprays.
Herbalists believe inhaling mint oil incense helps open the mind and calms the nerves. It has some antioxidant properties and can be used as an anti-itch relief for bug bites or other skin irritations.
Some believe that, due to its fluoride content, crushed dried mint leaves can whiten the teeth and remove tough organic stains like wine and coffee.
Ways to Prepare Mint
Mint can be served as a fresh garnish or dried and crumbled into soups, especially cold summer ones. Toss it in summer fruit for a fresh flavor enhancer. Brew it in teas and even fresh squeezed citrus drinks.
Ancient cultures of Greece and Rome hung dried mint as natural air fresheners in their temples. It can be boiled as a potpourri.
Mint Cautions or Concerns
If you are allergic to oregano or basil, you may be allergic to mint. Though often used to relieve heartburn, in a few percentage of adults it may actually worsen heartburn symptoms.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of mint?
Check out these helpful resources:
Health Benefits and Cautions of Peppermint Oil
Herb Gardening: Mint from University of Illinois Extension
Nancy Besser says
There are so many kinds of mint. I have chocolate mint, orange mint , spearmint and I think peppermint. Which is the best or are they all the same?
Interesting as I’m growing some mint. I will definitely try the mint tea as I suffer from stomach upset s
Niko Neznan says
You demand that mint contains good amounts of Vitamin A, C, B12, folic acid, thiamine and riboflavin, as well as, minerals such as, calcium, copper, fluoride, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.
There’s no vitamin B12 in mint, not even in traces. Misinforming will not add vitamin B12 to that plant.
you lose credibility when you misspell botanical names Menta spicata
Plus, the names need to be italicized or underlined, Patrick.
Kalyn the Herbalist says
This article is terribly researched. Learn the latin name! Mint is a genus (Mentha) and mentha spicata specifically is spearmint. Other errors in nutritional information. What a poorly written piece.
very nice gardening learning place
I had no idea that inhaling mint oil helps open the mind and calms the nerves. I can understand why someone who is always anxious might consider trying this method to calm themselves. My sister has anxiety but has found ways to control it. I’ll have to ask her if she has ever consider inhaling mint oil.