Categories
Herbs & Plants

Mint

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Botanical Name : Mentha spp
Family: Lamiaceae
Tribe: Mentheae
Genus: Mentha
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name:Mint

Habitat : Mentha spp has subcosmopolitan distribution across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America.While the species that make up the Mentha genus are widely distributed and can be found in many environments, most Mentha grow best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints will grow 10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, mints are considered invasive.

Description:
Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial, rarely annual, herbs. They have wide-spreading underground and overground stolons and erect, square, branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrate margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow.  The flowers are white to purple and produced in false whorls called verticillasters. The corolla is two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a small, dry capsule containing one to four seeds.

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You may click to see different species of Mint

Cultivation :
Mentha x gracilis and M. rotundifolia. The steel ring is to control the spread of the plant.All mints prefer, and thrive in, cool, moist spots in partial shade. In general, mints tolerate a wide range of conditions, and can also be grown in full sun.

They are fast growing, extending their reach along surfaces through a network of runners. Due to their speedy growth, one plant of each desired mint, along with a little care, will provide more than enough mint for home use. Some mint species are more invasive than others. Even with the less invasive mints, care should be taken when mixing any mint with any other plants, lest the mint take over. To control mints in an open environment, mints should be planted in deep, bottomless containers sunk in the ground, or planted above ground in tubs and barrels.

Some mints can be propagated by seed. Growth from seed can be an unreliable method for raising mint for two reasons: mint seeds are highly variable – one might not end up with what one presupposed was planted; and some mint varieties are sterile. It is more effective to take and plant cuttings from the runners of healthy mints.

The most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint (Mentha × piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and (more recently) apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).

Mints are supposed to make good companion plants, repelling pest insects and attracting beneficial ones. Mints are susceptible to whitefly and aphids.

Harvesting of mint leaves can be done at any time. Fresh mint leaves should be used immediately or stored up to a couple of days in plastic bags within a refrigerator. Optionally, mint can be frozen in ice cube trays. Dried mint leaves should be stored in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, dry area.

Edible Uses:
The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint. Fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint is not a problem. The leaves have a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams. In Middle Eastern cuisine, mint is used on lamb dishes, while in British cuisine and American cuisine, mint sauce and mint jelly are used, respectively.

Mint is a necessary ingredient in Touareg tea, a popular tea in northern African and Arab countries.

Alcoholic drinks sometimes feature mint for flavor or garnish, such as the mint julep and the mojito. Crème de menthe is a mint-flavored liqueur used in drinks such as the grasshopper.

Mint essential oil and menthol are extensively used as flavorings in breath fresheners, drinks, antiseptic mouth rinses, toothpaste, chewing gum, desserts, and candies; see mint (candy) and mint chocolate. The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of Peppermint and Japanese Peppermint) and pulegone (in Pennyroyal and Corsican Mint). The compound primarily responsible for the aroma and flavor of spearmint is R-carvone.

Medicinal Uses:
Ayurvedic physicians have used mint for centuries as a tonic and digestive aid and as a treatment for colds, cough, and fever.  Medieval German abbess/herbalist Hildegard of Bingen recommended mint for digestion and gout.  Shortly after Culpeper wrote about the benefits of mint, peppermint and spearmint were differentiated, and herbalists decided the former was the better digestive aid, cough remedy, and treatment for colds and fever.  Spearmint cannot replace peppermint in combined bile and liver or nerve herbal teas even though it is used as a stomachic and carminative.

The Chinese use bo he ( M. arvensis) as a cooling remedy for head colds and influenza and also for some types of headaches, sore throats, and eye inflammations.  As a liver stimulant, it is added to remedies for digestive disorders or liver qi (energy) stagnation).  Disperses wind-heat: for patterns of wind-heat with fever, headache and cough.  Clears the head and eyes and benefits the throat: for patterns of wind-heat with sore throat, red eyes, and headache.  Vents rashes: used in the early stages of rashes such as measles to induce the rash to come to the surface and thereby speed recovery.

Peppermint also contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer, heart disease and other diseases associated with aging.  From Jim Duke’s “Green Pharmacy” comes a Stone Tea for gallstone attach:  brew a mint tea from as many mints as possible especially spearmint and peppermint and add some cardamom, the richest source of borneol, another compound that is helpful.
The oil of peppermint has been shown to be antimicrobial and antiviral against Newcastle disease, herpes simplex, vaccinia, Semliki Forest and West Nile viruses.

Menthol is an allergic sensitizer that may cause hives.  The menthol in oil of peppermint is an effective local anesthetic.  It increases the sensitivity of the receptors in the skin that perceive the sensation of coolness and reduces the sensitivity of the receptors that perceive pain and itching.  Menthol is also a counterirritant, an agent that causes the small blood vessels under the skin to dilate, increasing the flow of blood to the area and making the skin feel warm.  When you apply a skin lotion made with menthol, your skin feels cool for a minutes, then warm.  Menthol’s anesthetic properties also make it useful in sprays and lozenges for sore throats.

Other Uses:
Used asinsecticide :  Mint oil is  used as an environmentally-friendly insecticide for its ability to kill some common pests like wasps, hornets, ants and cockroaches.

Used as Room Scent and Aromatherapy:  Known in Greek Mythology as the herb of hospitality, one of the first known uses for mint in Europe was as a room deodorizer. The herb was strewn across floors to cover the smell of the hard-packed soil. Stepping on the mint helped to spread its scent through the room. Today, it is more commonly used for aromatherapy through the use of essential oils

Mints are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Buff Ermine.

Taxonomy:
Mentha is a member of the tribe Mentheae in the subfamily Nepetoideae. The tribe contains about 65 genera and relationships within it remain obscure. Different authors have disagreed on the circumscription of Mentha. Some authors have excluded Mentha cervina from the genus. Mentha cunninghamii has also been excluded by some authors, even in some recent treatments of the genus. In 2004, a molecular phylogenetic study indicated that both of these species should be included in Mentha.

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

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha

Categories
Healthy Tips

Natural Stress Relieve Remedies

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Everyone has some sort of stress in their lives. In today’s world many of us try to juggle a job, family life and much more. Juggling all these things can lead to stress and stress can be horrible to  deal with because it affects every part of your daily life. These natural remedies will help you deal with your stress and make each day just a little bit easier.

Natural Remedy for Stress Relief:-

1.: Laugh!.
Did you know that laughing actually releases a chemical in your body that will help lighten your moods? By being able to laugh about your problems you will be able to get a clear perspective on the issue at hand. Not only that but more than likely you will be laughing with someone else and taking out your problem with a friend will also help relieve your stress. What is the best part about laughing other than it being a stress reliever? It’s also free!

2.: Work-Out..
Working out is a great way to relieve stress. It allows you to get out the tension that is building up in your body and also gives you time to think about the issue more clearly. If you have an over load of stress in your life head over to the gym, out for a run or a walk to clear your head.

3: Snacks in your Refrigerator..
If you have stress you are likely going to want to snack since this happens to many people. Don’t reach for the chocolate candy bars, instead head over to your refrigerator. Celery, cherries and lettuce all contain chemicals in the that will help ease your stress so snack on them anyway you like to help chase that stress away.

4: Baking Soda and Ginger..
Everyone knows that a warm bath can help relieve stress. Take it just a step further and add a ½ cup of both baking soda and ginger. This will help make your bath soothing both in the water texture and the aroma given off by the ginger.

5: Hot Tea
.
A warm drink always has a way of calming and soothing us. Choose a peppermint tea to gain a relaxing feeling that will help relieve your stress. If you don’t have peppermint tea you can always add a peppermint candy to any cup of tea. Sucking on a peppermint candy can also help relieve
stress on the go.

Stress is a natural thing in life. Being able to manage it is important and by using these natural home remedies to relieve stress you will feel better soon!

Source: Mail Online. July 19. 2009.

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Categories
Ayurvedic Healthy Tips

Herbal Tea As Stomach Soothers

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A user-friendly guide to herbs that can help settle your tummy.
If you’re the type of person who keeps Rolaids in her pocket and Pepto-Bismol in her desk drawer, consider adding herbal teas to your stash. Since what we eat and drink (especially dairy products, sugar, alcohol, and coffee) often triggers gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea, how better to treat these common gastrointestinal problems, herbalists say, than by ingesting herbs that naturally offset the culprits?

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But with the ever growing variety of herbal teas and home remedies clogging the shelves of health food stores, it’s hard to know which ones will really help. There are numerous herbs that can affect the gastrointestinal system, according to Walter Kacera, Ph.D., an herbalist at the Apothecary Clinic in the Garden in London, Ontario. Luckily, you don’t need to buy out the entire store to get relief. Peppermint, chamomile, and ginger are the three herbs most commonly used to soothe abdominal symptoms. “They’re versatile and a good place to start,” says Jill Stansbury, N.D. (doctor of naturopathy), chair of the botanical medicine department at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore.

Peppermint
Chamomile
Ginger
Teas to Ease an Aching Stomach

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) can do a lot more after dinner than just freshen your breath. The herb’s essential oil contains menthol, a volatile substance that has a direct antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. In addition, the pleasing smell of peppermint tea may help soothe nerves (and thus a nervous stomach). The ability to calm cramping stomach and intestinal muscles makes it a superb treatment, herbalists say, for symptoms of indigestion including heartburn, gas, stomachache, and the “I ate too much” feeling. It also makes peppermint a popular alternative treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an intestinal disorder that causes abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements in about 5 million Americans, most of them women.

Science is starting to back up some of mint’s claims. A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology in 1997 found that IBS patients taking peppermint-oil capsules for symptom relief experienced an approximately 40% greater reduction in abdominal pain and a 50% greater reduction in bloating and flatulence than those patients receiving a placebo.

A carminative (gas-relieving) herb, peppermint in the form of tea has long been used as a home remedy for flatulence. A 1996 German study validates this usage, finding that patients with chronic indigestion not caused by an ulcer who were treated with an herbal preparation of peppermint oil combined with caraway oil (a bitter herb also believed to relieve gastrointestinal ailments) experienced about half as much abdominal pain due to gas as did people who received a placebo.

Even in the absence of abdominal symptoms, some herbalists recommend regular consumption of peppermint tea, saying it allows the entire gastrointestinal system to function more fluidly. But, despite the enthusiastic reports, many doctors say that peppermint can lower the sphincter pressure of the esophagus, actually causing some people to have more heartburn. Even Dr. Stansbury avoids treating heartburn with peppermint. If, however, people do experience relief from indigestion with peppermint or any other herbal therapy, Col. Peter McNally, D.O. (doctor of osteopathy), a gastroenterologist at the Evans Army Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo., sees no harm in continuing to use the herb. “At the very least, the extra consumption of water (through the teas) can be quite helpful in aiding digestion,” he says.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), considered to be one of the safest medicinal herbs, is frequently recommended as a gentle treatment for common gastrointestinal problems. In Germany, where herbalism has long been considered conventional, tradition holds chamomile to be so useful that it has been dubbed alles zutraut, or “capable of anything.” Indeed, for gastrointestinal ailments, it’s somewhat of a superherb. Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and carminative, chamomile can act upon the digestive system in a number of healing ways. It relieves flatulence and heartburn by mildly sedating and soothing the mucous membrane of the digestive tract. Its natural sedative properties can also relax the entire body, which may help if your digestive discomfort is caused by stress or worry.

A caveat: While some research has found chamomile to be effective in relieving diarrhea in young children, Dr. Stansbury strongly cautions against self-treating diarrhea with herbal remedies (for children or adults) until you have consulted with a medical professional. “The body may be trying to rid itself of a toxin or harmful substance, and you don’t want to interrupt that process,” she advises.

Though widely used and highly praised as a safe natural remedy, chamomile may cause allergic reactions in individuals with sensitivities to ragweed, asters, and chrysanthemums.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale), like peppermint and chamomile, is a carminative and can be used to treat gas, along with its associated bloating and pain. In botanical medicine it’s considered a warming herb, one that causes the inside of the body to generate more heat. Herbalists say this can help regulate sluggish digestion, though Dr. Stansbury points out that some find this extra warmth uncomfortable and may instead prefer peppermint or chamomile teas.

But what makes ginger a standout among herbs is its effectiveness in treating nausea and vomiting. (Remember Mom giving you ginger ale when you had a stomachache?) Herbalists now know that ginger works against both nausea and vomiting, making it an excellent preventive against motion and morning sickness. And unlike its drug counterparts, ginger doesn’t cause drowsiness. Perhaps that’s why it’s a favorite in many a sailor’s first-aid kit.

Teas to Ease an Aching Stomach

“Teas are the best way to take herbal gastrointestinal remedies,” says Jill Stansbury, N.D. (doctor of naturopathy), chair of the botanical medicine department at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore. The warm liquid is easy to digest and allow the remedy direct contact with the stomach and intestinal walls. Herbs in pill form can be hard to digest, and most tinctures contain alcohol, causing them to be absorbed largely in the mouth. The one exception: Irritable bowel syndrome sufferers may use peppermint or chamomile tea and may also take peppermint in capsule form. The capsule allows the mint to maintain its potency until it reaches the intestines, where it calms the spasms characteristic of IBS. Look for enteric-coated capsules containing .2 milliliter of oil; take one or two, up to three times a day between meals.

How to Choose Tea
When selecting a tea, Walter Kacera, Ph.D., an herbalist at the Apothecary Clinic in the Garden, recommends looking for aromatic herbs: Can you smell the peppermint or ginger through the teabag? If not, the herb is probably past its prime. Look for a tea that has the date the herbs were harvested on the box; aromatic herbs should be less than a year old.

Next time your digestive system flares up, try one of these teas:

Peppermint        pepperment tea

For a minty fresh herbal aid, the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colo., recommends the following ratio of peppermint to water: Steep one to two teaspoons of dried peppermint leaves, or one tablespoon of fresh leaves, in one cup of hot water for five to 10 minutes; sweeten as needed with honey; and drink in the morning and after dinner.

Chamomile
Substitute dried or fresh chamomile flowers for the peppermint leaves in the above tea preparation.

Ginger
Steep ¼ to ½ teaspoon of dried gingerroot powder in one cup of hot water. Sweeten with honey and drink at night as a digestive aid, or prepare as needed to prevent motion sickness.

Fresh ginger is delicious and just as effective as the dried kind. Dr. Stansbury suggests simmering three ¼-in. peeled slices of the root in one cup of water for 10 minutes, or to desired strength. Flavor with lemon and honey.

If you need immediate help on hand for your next trip to the amusement park, dried or candied ginger will also do the trick.
Source:Reader’s Digest

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Mentha arvensis

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Botanical Name : Mentha arvensis
Family:    Lamiaceae
Genus:    Mentha
Species:M. arvensis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Lamiales

Common Names:  Pudina,”Podina” in Hindi, wild mint or corn mint, Japanese Mint

Parts Used: Whole Plant, Oil

Habitat: Mentha arvensis is native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, N. Asia and the Himalayas.   Found through out India and is grown all over the world.It grows in arable land, heaths, damp edges of woods.

Description:It is an herbaceous perennial plant growing  to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). The leaves are in opposite pairs, simple, 2-6.5 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, hairy, and with a coarsely serrated margin. The flowers are pale purple (occasionally white or pink), in clusters on the stem, each flower 3-4 mm long. It  is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to October, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

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Cultivation :
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. This species tolerates much drier conditions than other members of the genus. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it also succeeds in partial shade. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Polymorphic. The whole plant has a very strong, almost oppressive, smell of mint. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for growing near brassicas and tomatoes, helping to deter insect pests. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

Leaves – raw or cooked. A reasonably strong minty flavour with a slight bitterness, they are used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. An essential oil from the plant is used as a flavouring in sweets and beverages. The leaves contain about 0.2% essential oil

Properties Mint is tasty, relishing, and hot, an appetizer that eliminates the excessive formation of wind phlegm. It is beneficial in cough, indigestion, sprue, diarrhea, cholera, and chronic fever and eliminates the worm’s from the stomach. It also increases the digestive powers.

Medicinal Uses:

Anaesthetic; Antiphlogistic; Antiseptic; Antispasmodic; Aromatic; Cancer; Carminative; Diaphoretic; Emmenagogue; Febrifuge; Galactofuge;
Salve; Stimulant; Stomachic.

Corn mint, like many other members of this genus, is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion. Like other members of the genus, it is best not used by pregnant women because large doses can cause an abortion. The whole plant is anaesthetic, antiphlogistic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, galactofuge, refrigerant, stimulant and stomachic. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are a classical remedy for stomach cancer. Another report says that this species is not very valuable medicinally. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.

The entire plant is antibacterial and antifibrile. It is effective in headache, rhinitis, cough, sore throat, colic, prurigo and vomiting. Menthol obtained from this is used in balms. It is also used as flavoring agent in culinary preparations.

Pudina or mint has various herbal and Ayurvedic medicinal value.
Mint is generally a sweet flavour imparting a cool sensation to the mouth. Peppermint has the highest concentrations of menthol, while pennyroyal is strong with a medicinal flavour.

Mint is refreshing, stimulative, diaphoretic, stomachic, and antispasmodic. It helps in colds, flu, fever, poor digestion, motion sickness, food poisoning, rheumatism, hiccups, stings, ear aches, flatulence and for throat and sinus ailments.

Both fresh and dried mint is used. Mint is used in a variety of dishes such as vegetable curries, mint recipe for chutney, fruit salads,vegetable salads,salad dressings, soup,desserts,juices, sherberts, etc.Peppermint is used to flavour toothpaste,mouth freshners and chewing gum.

  • A fresh juice extracted from the mint is very beneficial in cold.
  • If a semi liquid juice made from the powdered leaves of mint and basil is taken, it cures fever and its relapsing.
  • Mixed juice of mint and ginger cures ague. It also cures all types of fever by causing excessive perspiration. This juice is also beneficial in flatulationan and coryza.
  • A mixture made of six grams of mint, six grams of ginger juice and 1 gram of powdered rock salt, cures colic in stomach.

Other Uses :
Essential; Repellent; Strewing.

The plant is used as an insect repellent. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain. The leaves also repel various insects. An essential oil is obtained from the plant. The yield from the leaves is about 0.8%. The sub-species M. arvensis piperascens produces the best oil, which can be used as a substitute for, or adulterant of, peppermint oil. Yields of up to 1.6% have been obtained from this sub-species

Known Hazards :  Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

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

Resources:
http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/spices/mint.html
http://www.urday.com/spice.html)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha_arvensis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+arvensis