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Herbs & Plants

Mentha crispa

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Botanical Name : Mentha crispa
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Mentheae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. spicata
Kingdom: Plantae

Common Names: Supermint, Spearmint or spear mint

Habitat : Mentha crispa is native to much of Europe and Asia (Middle East, Himalayas, China etc.), and naturalized in parts of northern and western Africa, North and South America, as well as various oceanic islands.

Description:
Mentha crispa is a herbaceous, rhizomatous, perennial plant growing 30–100 cm tall, with variably hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome. The leaves are 5–9 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, with a serrated margin.It is broad, sharply-toothed, woolly beneath, is a avariety of M. aquatica. It is sometimes found in Britain in gardens and has quite a different odour to that of the common Wild Water Mint. The stem is square-shaped, a trademark of the mint family of herbs. Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower pink or white, 2.5–3 mm long, and broad.

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Hybrids involving spearmint include Mentha × piperita (peppermint; hybrid with Mentha aquatica), Mentha × gracilis (ginger mint, syn. M. cardiaca; hybrid with Mentha arvensis), and Mentha × villosa (large apple mint, hybrid with Mentha suaveolens).

The name ‘spear’ mint derives from the pointed leaf tip

Cultivation: Mentha crispa or Spearmint grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive, spreading rhizomes. The plant prefers partial shade, but can flourish in full sun to mostly shade. Spearmint is best suited to loamy soils with abundant organic material.

Edible Uses: Spearmint leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. They can also be preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, or oil. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers. It can be dried by cutting just before, or right (at peak) as the flowers open, about one-half to three-quarters the way down the stalk (leaving smaller shoots room to grow). Some dispute exists as to what drying method works best; some prefer different materials (such as plastic or cloth) and different lighting conditions (such as darkness or sunlight).

Tea: The cultivar Mentha spicata ‘Nana’, the nana mint of Morocco, possesses a clear, pungent, but mild aroma, and is an essential ingredient of Touareg tea.

Spearmint is an ingredient in several mixed drinks, such as the mojito and mint julep. Sweet tea, iced and flavored with spearmint, is a summer tradition in the Southern United States.

Medicinal Uses: As a medicinal plant, spearmint is steeped as tea for the treatment of stomach ache. Spearmint has been studied for antifungal activity; its essential oil was found to have some antifungal activity, although less than oregano. Its essential oil did not show any evidence of mutagenicity in the Ames test. It can have a calming effect when used for insomnia or massages.

CLICK & SEE : Efficacy of the Mentha crispa in the treatment of women with Trichomonas vaginalis infection.

Other Uses: Spearmint is often cultivated for its aromatic and carminative oil, referred to as oil of spearmint. The most abundant compound in spearmint oil is R-(–)-carvone, which gives spearmint its distinctive smell. Spearmint oil also contains significant amounts of limonene, dihydrocarvone, and 1,8-cineol. Unlike peppermint oil, oil of spearmint contains minimal amounts of menthol and menthone. It is used as a flavoring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spearmint
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html

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News on Health & Science

A Fake Smile Can be Bad for Health

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New research suggests that putting on a fake smile to mask your unhappiness or displeasure may have unexpected consequences. It can actually worsen your mood and cause you to withdraw from tasks.

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In a study published this month in the Academy of Management Journal, scientists tracked a group of bus drivers for two weeks, focusing on them because their jobs require frequent, and generally courteous, interactions with many people.

The scientists examined what happened when the drivers engaged in fake smiling, known as “surface acting,” and its opposite, “deep acting,” where they generated authentic smiles through positive thoughts, said an author of the study, Brent Scott, an assistant professor of management at Michigan State University.

After following the drivers closely, the researchers found that on days when the smiles were forced, the subjects’ moods deteriorated and they tended to withdraw from work. Trying to suppress negative thoughts, it turns out, may have made those thoughts even more persistent.

But on days when the subjects tried to display smiles through deeper efforts — by actually cultivating pleasant thoughts and memories — their overall moods improved and their productivity increased.

Women were affected more than men. Dr. Scott suspected cultural norms might be at play: women are socialized to be more emotionally expressive, he said, so hiding emotions may create more strain.

THE BOTTOM LINE :Research suggests that an inauthentic smile to hide unhappiness can further worsen your mood.

Source:New York Times February 21, 2011

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News on Health & Science

Lungs ‘Boosted by Breastfeeding’

Breastfeeding an infant
Image via Wikipedia

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A new study by UK and US scientists has revealed that the sheer physical effort involved in breastfeeding may leave babies with stronger lungs well into childhood.

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Previous studies have established that breastfeeding protects babies from respiratory problems early in life, but the relationship with lungpower later in childhood is less clear-cut.

For the study, the researchers followed a total of 1,456 babies from the Isle of Wight all the way through to there 10th year to test this.

A third of them had been breastfed for at least four months, and on average, these children could blow out more air after taking a deep breath, and could blow it out faster.

This happened regardless of whether their mother was asthmatic or suffered from allergies.

Other studies have suggested that immune chemicals in breast-milk may have a protective effect against asthma.

However, the scientists from Southampton University and the College of Veterinary Medicine in Michigan State University, said that the changes in lung volume they found were not completely characteristic of an asthmatic response, suggesting that other factors might be at work.

Dr Syed Arshad, from Southampton and the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre on the Isle of Wight, said that the physical effort needed to extract milk from the breast might be involved.

On average, babies needed to generate three times the sucking power compared to bottle-feeding, and feeding sessions tended to last much longer.

“What they are doing is very similar to the kind of exercises we suggest for pulmonary rehabilitation in older patients. I’m not aware of anyone suggesting that this might be the reason before,” BBC quoted Arshad, as
saying.

These researchers have now approached a bottle manufacturer with proposals to create a bottle, which mimics the effort needed to breastfeed.

He said that it was now feasible to conduct lung function tests on infants, which meant that a trial to see if it made a difference could be concluded within a year.

Dr Elaine Vickers, from Asthma UK, said that the study added to the evidence that breastfeeding has “long-lasting benefits” for children.

“While the results of the study don’t focus specifically on asthma, the researchers were able to demonstrate that children breast-fed for four months or longer had better lung function than those who weren’t breast-fed at all, or who were breast-fed for less than four months,” she added.

Sources:From The study is published in the journal Thorax.

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Positive thinking

Healing Our Bodies

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Touch
Sometimes we might concentrate so much on our spiritual lives that we overlook the wonders of being present in our physical form. When we are more aware of the fact that our bodies are also important in terms of our personal growth, we may find it easier to nurture them. One of the most powerful ways to do this is through human touch, for a loving, comforting touch allows us to access the part of ourselves that yearns for a sense of oneness with the world around us. Even simple forms of touch connect us not just to our bodies but also to the energetic presence of other people.

There are so many ways to incorporate touch in our daily lives, one of the easiest being a heartfelt embrace. Just making a point to hug someone on a daily basis and really feel our energy pass between each other can strengthen the bonds that keep us together. Hugs help us heal any hurt or upset we may have recently experienced by letting us release into the moment of the embrace and realize that no matter what happens to us, we have someone in our lives who supports and cares for us.

Another nourishing form of touch is massage. While we may think of massage as a luxury, it is actually an ancient form of healing that enables us to open up our energetic pathways in order to receive unlimited energy from the universe. It doesn’t matter whether a simple massage comes from a loved one or a massage therapist, but by giving ourselves the gift of massage every once in a while, we are doing something healthy and beneficial for our bodies. Massage helps our bodies activate their own restorative powers, creating a wonderful way to engage fully in our own healing.

Letting ourselves take advantage of the healing nature of touch creates space where we can truly live in and experience the world through our bodies, allowing us to completely immerse ourselves in the loving sense of joy and wonder that is our life.

Sources: Daily Om