Happy 2018! 2017 has come to an end and we now turn our attention to a new year and new beginnings. Like many of you, I’ve made some New Year’s resolutions. And like many of you, I’ve already broken at least one of them.
What is it about a new year that has us wanting to resolve to better ourselves and our lives? In a word - TRADITION.
The practice of creating New Year’s resolutions is steeped in tradition started by the ancient Babylonians over 4000 years ago. The Roman’s joined in when Julius Caesar changed the calendar establishing January 1 as the beginning of the new year around 46 B.C. Unlike today’s practice, the ancient practices were centered around religion as promises to do better for the coming year were made to gods and deities. Most people today make resolutions only to themselves and focus on self-improvement.
So why is it so hard to keep our resolutions? For me, it a lack of a plan, daily focus and motivation, and tracking and celebrating our successes. While herbs can’t help with the planning and tracking, herbs from the mint family can be used to help focus and motivate. Mint is included in the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family of plants. Two of the most common mint plants are Peppermint and Spearmint.
Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
Peppermint is a cross between watermint and spearmint. It is indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, but is now grown in several regions around the world.
The leaves and flowering tops of the peppermint plant are used in herbal teas, tinctures, candy flavoring, lotions, gum and distilled for essential oil.
Peppermint is said to be antispasmodic, antimicrobial, an analgesic and carminative and as such offers benefits to the respiratory and digestive systems. In addition, the aroma of peppermint is said to promote memory enhancement and stress relief. Check out more information about Peppermint in our blog post from last holiday season!
Spearmint (Mentha spicate)
Spearmint is also known as garden mint. Spearmint is native to much of Europe and Asia (Middle East, Himalayas, China etc.), and naturalized in parts of northern and western Africa, North America, and South America, as well as various oceanic islands.
The leaves of the spearmint plant are used in cooking, herbal teas, tinctures, candy flavoring, lotions, and distilled for essential oils.
Spearmint is a pleasantly aromatic herb, packed with numerous health benefiting vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. The herb parts are also very good in minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. In addition to having similar digestive benefits as peppermint, the compounds in spearmint are said to relieve fatigue, stress and nervous conditions.
Mint Tea Recipes...Mmmmm!
While you could make a tea using only peppermint or spearmint, below are a couple of recipes that combine mint with additional herbs. These easy herbal infusions can be mixed up in advance and prepared with ease on those days when you really need it.
Lavender and Mint Infusion
½ cup dried mint leaves
2 – 3 tbsp. dried lavender flowers
Mix ingredients in a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place. Use 1 tsp per cup of hot water. Infuse for approximately 20 minutes. Add honey to sweeten if desired.
Be sure to really breathe in this tea in between sips--the aroma will turn your whole day around.
Nettles and Mint Infusion
1 cup dried nettle leaves
1 cup dried mint leaves
Mix ingredients in a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place. Use 1 tsp per cup of hot water. Infuse for at least 20 minutes. Can be infused over night to bring out the full benefits of nettle. Add honey to sweeten if desired.
Written by Becky Wilson, Bridget's Botanicals