Menthol based herbs, such as found in the mint family of herbs, are some of the more commonly used for medicinal purposes. You may be surprised to see that the following plants are part of the mint family:
- lemon balm
- bee balm
- sweet marjoram
- pineapple sage
- summer savory
- anise hyssop
Let's examine the usefulness of some of these herbs for medicinal purposes.
Medicinal Purposes Of The Mint Family
Peppermint is the most common among the mint family, though it is in fact a hybrid species of spearmint and water mint.
The essential oil derived from the herb gives a cooling sensation and calming effect on the body. When applied to the skin, it can relieve sore muscles.
It also has antimicrobial properties and therefore can be used to help freshen bad breath and soothe digestive issues when taken internally.
Peppermint oil has a role in stimulating blood flow of the forehead to relieve headaches when applied topically. It can also be placed into a diffuser and breathed in to help relieve headaches as well.
The essential oil can also help open up sinus passages and reduce sinus pain.
The rosemary bush contains antibacterial and antioxidant rosmarinic acid, which has shown to prevent oxidation of the lipid membranes of the body's cells.
The herb has several compounds, including:
- bornyl acetate
The these compounds have shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties as well.
Rosemary has shown to be a cognitive stimulant, by improving memory and helping to increase intelligence and focus. Use the essential oil in a diffuser, or carry a bag of fresh rosemary leaves and take a whiff now and again.
Sage as a holistic medicine is used for digestive problems, loss of appetite, gas (flatulence), stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn. It is also used for protecting the body against oxidative stress, free radical damage, angiogenesis, inflammation, bacterial and viral infections.
It can also help with reducing the overproduction of perspiration or sweating and saliva. It also helps with depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer's disease.
One study funded by Oxford Natural Products and published in the July 2003 journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior says that the research provided young adults with either sage oil capsules or a placebo. The participants then took a series of word recall tests. The people who had taken the sage oil consistently had better word recall, a sign that sage may help improve memory.
Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist says that lavender oil can help with scalp conditions, such as dandruff or flaky skin of the scalp.
Bloating and poor digestion can result from an overgrowth of candida, which can happen by taking antibiotics. The author of the book Doctor's Detox Diet, Christine Gerbstadt, MD, writes that lavender contains antioxidants called polyphenolins that can help reduce the over growth of candid in the gut.
To help relieve your bloating and poor digestion, sprinkle some dried culinary lavender onto some unsweetened Greek yogurt.
Research shows that the scent of lavender can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure, putting you in a relaxed state. To help your body relax and get better rest, put a handful of dried lavender in a vase on your nightstand or use a diffuser with lavender oil.
Because lavender is a natural anti-inflammatory, it can help reduce itching, swelling, and redness due to mosquito bites.
Place a few drops of the flowers essential oil on the area of skin that is swollen, red and itchy. It should work to rleive the itchiness in about 15 minutes. Apply as needed every six to eight hours for 24 hours. Stop using if your skin becomes more irritated.
Spearmint is often used in natural and holistic medicine for its therapeutic properties. Spearmint as well as any member of the mint family are also used in health-food products, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and cosmetics.
Spearmint contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These include:
- Vitamin B-6
Iron is essential for enzymes in cellular metabolism and synthesis of hemoglobin. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. The human body utilizes manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
You may also be surprised to know that the herb is a good source of plant protein and dietary fiber.
To use spearmint for an upset stomach and to help with dizziness and nausea - steep fresh crushed leaves in a cup of hot water for several minutes.
It is worth noting that all member's of the mint family have the same medicinal effects.