Common Name: Mint or spearmint  

Botanical Name: Mentha spicata 

Place of origin: Spearmint is originally native to Asia and Europe, but is now naturalized in parts of Africa and North America.  

Ideal growing conditions: Mint in the wild grows along stream beds, so it likes some shade and moist soil. Space the mint plants 2 ft apart because the mint will spread along the ground, and remember to water it frequently. In colder climates, mint might need to be protected during the winter.  

Parts of the Plant to use: To use harvest mint, simply, pinch the leaves off. Mint can be harvested whenever but to get the best flavor harvest the leaves just before the flowers bloom.   

Benefits/Properties:  Mint is a nutrient-rich herb that contains Vitamin A, iron, and manganese. It is great for relieving stomach pains, and is used to relieve bloating and indigestion. Additionally, preliminary research shows improved memory in participants who smelled mint.  

Suggested Uses: Mint is great because it can be used in cooking to spice up many recipes, but to most directly receive the benefits of mint discussed above, you should explore the more medicinal uses of this herb. 

Culinary: While you might most commonly think of mint as a popular ice cream flavor, mint can be used in a plethora of dessert and non-dessert dishes. One of my favorite ways to use mint is by chopping a few leaves and adding it to Greek yogurt and berries. Another great way to use mint is by adding it to spring rolls. Using whatever ingredients you prefer in your spring rolls, try adding in a few mint leaves before you wrap them up. If you have never made spring rolls, I suggest following a recipe such as this: 

But feel free to add and substitute different vegetables and proteins as you wish. Mint adds a bite and helps enhance the other flavors in the rolls. Making mint pesto is a more unexpected way to use this versatile herb. Here is a simple recipe that will teach you how to make this delicious sauce. 

Medicinal: Mint’s versatility extends to its medicinal uses. The best way to use mint to calm an upset stomach is by making mint tea. To do so, in a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from the heat, and add approximately a handful of fresh leaves. Let it stand for 5 minutes, and then strain tea into a teacup or mug. I prefer to sweeten it with a bit of honey, while others drink it as is. (This also can be made into an awesome iced tea, but won’t necessarily help your stomach ache.) You can also chew on clear mint leaves to freshen your breath or help relieve stomach pain. Another way to obtain the benefits of mint is by taking mint capsules. While very difficult to make at home, they are a great supplement to quickly benefit from the properties of mint.