Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Survival Foraging: Peppermint, Not Just a Christmas Candy

Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)

There are over 600 types of mint today and they continue to be bred to enhance certain qualities of each one. Peppermint  or Mentha Piperita is grown commercially to produce all the peppermint flavored items in the market today but the more common plant that grows wild (especially in the west) and closely resembles the taste and smell of peppermint is called Field Mint or Mentha Arvensis.

Mint's History

Mint was grown and cherished all over the world. In Greece "Minthe" was a nymph beloved by Plato. His wife's jealousy caused him to turn Minthe into a mint plant. In the bible the pharisees collected tithes in mint. The Hebrews laid it on synagogue floors and the Italians continued this practice in their churches. The Romans used it as a sign of hospitality and Roman women drinking forbidden wine used it to cover their breath. In Japan it was also highly prized for it's refreshing scent and they wore it around their necks. 

 Identifying The Plant (M. Arvensis)

A real peppermint plant will bloom in spikes at the ends but the field mint blooms in whorls at the upper leaf crooks. The leaves of all mint species grow opposite one another and the stems are square. The leaves are serrated and lance shaped. The plant can grow up to twenty inches but it is more common for it to grow to 12 inches. It obviously smells very minty. It blooms from July to September. It will grow up to the timberline but generally prefers moist stream beds.

Growing Tip

Mint growth is very evasive. It is best to grow it in it's own bed or manage it very carefully because before long with will take over your whole herb garden. It is good to grow mint with roses because they will deter aphids from attacking them.

Eating Mint

Mint is generally eaten fresh or as a seasoning. It is used in a wide variety of products and drinks.


The areal parts of both plant types are used interchangeably to treat many different ailments.For head aches, upset tummies, gas, colic, and fever an infusion* or a tincture* are helpful. A peppermint or field mint compress* can be used to treat inflamed joints and rheumatism. A inhalation* treatment is very good for stuffy noses. 
Two to three drops of peppermint essential oil* in a wash smells wonderful and is a good bug repellent. It can also be applied for irritations, swelling, scabies, and ringworm. The oil can also be used as an inhalant* for nasal congestion. A massage oil made from 5 to 10 drops in 25 ml of almond or sunflower oil can be useful for headaches, fevers, menstrual pain, or for milk buildups while breast feeding.

*Compress - a cloth soaked in infusion
*Tincture - Process of steeping the dried or fresh herbs in a 25% mixture of alcohol and water. Can be stored for up to two years.
*Infusion - Preparation similar to making traditional tea where the leaves or flowers are put to steep in boiled water. Should be made fresh for each dose.

*Steam Inhalant - place 1-2 tbsp dried herb in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Lean over bowl with towel over head and inhale for as long as possible or mixture cools. Try not to go into cold for thirty minutes afterward. Should be made fresh for each dose.
*Essential Oil - most essential oils can be purchased at a natural food store. To make your own, put 250g of dried herbs or 750g of fresh herbs into 500ml of sunflower oil into a bowl. Place this bowl over a pot of boiling water for about three hours. Then pour into jelly bag or cheesecloth fitted to a wine press and strain mixture into a container. Pour this mixture into a clean, airtight storage bottle.

Attention Use At Your Own Risk

I am not medically trained in anyway. I am simply a student. I read and experiment with ancient herbal techniques. I am simply passing on the knowledge I have gained from studding many texts on the subject and I am in no way responsible for anything you do with this information. For a listing on the books that I have compiled knowledge from visit: http://www.authorsarafhathaway.com/#!saras-survival-stuff/c1mzf




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Sara F. Hathaway
Sara F. Hathaway is the author of the The Changing Earth Series: Day After Disaster and Without Land. She also hosts The Changing Earth Podcast which blends her fictional stories with educational survival tips. Sara grew up in the country where she developed a profound interest in the natural world around her. After graduating with honors from The California State University of Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, she launched into a career in business management. In her fictional novels her research and experience with survival techniques and forgotten life-sustaining methods of the generations past come to the forefront in a action packed adventures. She has used her background in business management to pave new roads for fictional authors to follow and she delights in helping other achieve the same success. She currently lives with her husband and two sons in California where she is at work on the sequel to her first two novels. For more information and a free copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” featuring everything you need to have to leave your home in a disaster visit: www.authorsarafhathaway.com
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