Well-known herbs that grow very well in Irish gardens are mainly used to flavour food. But did you know that they also often have beneficial medicinal properties? The first herb people will usually experiment growing is mint, probably as it is so easy to keep alive and difficult to kill! It spreads very fast, therefore it is often a good idea to keep it in an enclosed space - such as in a pot or in a little bed of its own, or even in a pot that is dug into the ground so that it looks like it is growing directly from the soil. This keeps it in control by stopping the roots spreading all over the flowerbed. If it is close to your kitchen you will very quickly cut a sprig of it and pop it into a cup of boiling water for some freshly brewed mint tea, or experiment with flavours and chop it up and add to dishes. Peppermint tea is excellent to drink after a rich meal to aid digestion and to relieve flatulence.
There are many different varieties of mint and many different varieties of peppermint. They differ in their medicinal properties depending on the different levels of volatile oils within them. Menthol is one of the most prominent volatile oils found in peppermint. If the whole plant is used (for example the flowering tops, leaves, stems and oils rather than just the leaves), peppermint can be helpful in dispelling wind, reducing the symptoms of nausea, colic, bloating and wind. Peppermint oil is a muscle relaxant that can help to relieve spasms in the large intestine.
This may help those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is also helpful for aiding digestion as it increases stomach acidity. It is beneficial for diarrhoea, headache, heart trouble, nausea, poor appetite, spasms, rheumatism and in the treatment of colds and ‘flu’, especially in the traditional combination with elderberries. A high quantity of peppermint is not recommended for those suffering from gallstones or acute liver disease. Interestingly, peppermint may interfere with iron absorption. As previously mentioned, herbs flavour food and have medicinal qualities, but they also contain vital nutrients.
Peppermint contains calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, zinc, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and E. It is so easy to grow that even if you live in an apartment with no garden, there is no reason why you cannot have FREE fresh peppermint tea, with FREE nutrients and FREE medicinal properties all from in a little pot of peppermint on your windowsill!