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Experience the Health Benefits of Mint

Peppermint and other mints are among the healthiest herbs that you can include in your diet. What if your body doesn't react well to ingesting mint-flavored foods and beverages? Before you say no to mints forever, I encourage you to consider that some mint-flavored products (especially candies, chocolates, and low quality teas) use synthetic menthol to create mint flavor and scent.

Synthetic menthol is created by using a crystallization process that generates contaminants, and these contaminants can affect the scent and quality of synthetic menthol.

My experience has been that the majority of people who think that they can't ingest mint actually have trouble tolerating synthetic menthol. Ingesting peppermint and other natural mints rarely results in health challenges.

Peppermint and menthol may be useful for:

  1. Relaxing the muscles that line your digestive tract, thereby promoting less gas production and better overall digestion.

  2. Providing symptomatic relief for painful inflammatory states like arthritis, chronic tendinitis, and acute sprains and strains.

  3. Shrinking or dissolving gallstones, especially when used in combination with a few other compounds called terpenes (borneol, camphene, pinene, and cineole).

  4. Combating the proliferation of viruses, most notably, the herpes simplex virus.

Some health practitioners recommend using peppermint oil to address the health challenges mentioned above. If you are going to ingest peppermint oil or apply it to your skin for health-promoting purposes, be sure that the oil you use is free of synthetic menthol, and if possible, one that is made with organically grown peppermint. Also, use extremely small amounts - even one drop of peppermint oil on your tongue or skin can produce a significant physiological effect.

Some words of caution on using peppermint oil: ingesting peppermint oil can sometimes lead to heartburn, muscle tremors, a slow heart rate, and skin rashes. Applying peppermint oil to your skin may also cause a skin rash.

Personally, I feel that the safest way to experience the health benefits of peppermint is by drinking peppermint tea or other beverages that are infused with menthol from real peppermint leaves. Eating a small handful of peppermint leaves can also be a safe and effective way to benefit from exposing your cells to natural menthol.

In the summer months, a fun way to enjoy peppermint is to add a few peppermint ice cubes to a glass of water, sparkling water, or any other beverage that you enjoy having cold. You can make peppermint ice cubes by filling an ice cube tray with peppermint leaves, filling the tray with cold water, pushing down any mint leaves that stick out until they are fully immersed, and then putting the tray in the freezer for several hours.

One of our favorite summer drinks that combines nicely with mint ice cubes is sparkling watermelon juice.

Please remember: as long as you stay away from synthetic sources of menthol, peppermint and other mints can provide loads of flavor and significant health benefits. If you have a favorite recipe that calls for fresh peppermint or other mint leaves, please consider sharing your recipe in the comments section below. Thank you.

 
 

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Comments

Dr. Kim,
Thank you for all that great information on peppermint and everything else you graciously share with us.
In the early 90’s when I quit smoking, I used peppermint oil, water and a sweetener in a cosmetic spray bottle as one of my quitting crutches. Since that time I still enjoy the concoction, without the sweetener, as a breath freshener and occasionally as a stress reliever. I never thought much about the peppermint oil I was using until I read its label – it contained propylene glycol, an antifreeze ingredient! Ordered organic immediately. I applaud your warning to check the quality of peppermint oil.
Peace and Blessings
J. Geary

Hello!
When I make taboulleh at home, I always put a bunch of fresh mint in with the fresh parsley, about 2 parts parsley to one part mint.
I believe this is the traditional way to make the dish, although we don't often find it in commercial preparations.
Here's my recipe. All measurements are approximate and can be changed to suit one's taste.
Prepare about 1 hour before serving to let flavours meld.

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped , or equiv. in cherry tomatoes
1 cup bulghur (cracked wheat), soaked in warm water for about 1/2 hour and then squeezed well to remove the water.
1 large bunch flat leaf or curly parsley finely chopped, by hand
1 bunch mint finely chopped, by hand (food processor rips it apart)
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
Toss the bulghur, parsley and mint together in a large bowl.
Add S & P and cinnamon and toss again.
Add tomatoes, then lemon juice and finally the oil.
Toss again until all ingredients are well combined.
Taste and add more oil if it feels dry in the mouth.
Enjoy!

Carol,

I make a taboulleh recipe almost like yours, except for the cinnamon. I'll have to try that. Do you include cinnamon in lots of savory foods? I love mint this way. I used to use bulghur, but now that I've almost eliminated wheat, I use quinoa. Using the large amounts of parsley and mint this way is like having them as a vegetable.

Fresh mint is not so readily available except in those small plastic containers. I'm wondering if it's easy to grown on a patio. I don't exactly have a green thumb. I've been craving the mint as well as lots of other fresh herbs lately-especially basil.

About cinnamon: Does anyone know where I can buy ceylon cinnamon? It's from Sri Lanka. I've just found out that most cinnamon is cassia. I just read the most intriguing home remedy for colds and cough. For three days you take: I Tbl. of warm honey to which you mix in 1/4 tsp. of ceylon cinnamon.

Mint is the easiest herb I've ever grown. It grows like a weed. It grows fantastically in pots and is quite foolproof.

I get mine from thespicygourmet.com. The owner's name is Dinesh Perera. Tell him Sabrina from Santa Barbara sent you!

First of all my family and I LOVED the Minty watermelon juice. We live in Israel so anything to keep the summer heat at bay is welcome. One of my favourite ways to use mint is in a finely chopped salad, a staple of the Israeli diet,and it mingles well with the olive oil and lemon juice. Also add finely chopped mint to yoghurt and cucumber for a delicious dressing over curried vegetables.
Thank you for your wonderful newsletters. I am eager to try Goji berries but so far I haven't been able to find them here :-(
Keep up the good work,
Lucie

This is my all-time favorite recipe as it's so delicious, healthy, easy to digest and sustaining. (It's also excellent with a little cooked seafood or poultry stirred in...)

(Can be made without the nightshade-family veggies by substituting finely chopped ginger-root (to taste) for the pablano and a little anise-root for the tomatoes; it's just as good this way).

SOUTHWESTERN QUINOA TABBOULEH
(adapted from "Passionate Vegetarian" by Crescent Dragonwagon)

1/2 seeded fresh pablano chile
1/2 can corn kernels, drained (or kernels from two ears cooked corn)
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa* (see below)
2 tomatoes, chopped, with seeds and liquid-y "inards" removed
juice of one large, juicy lemon
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small anise-root (optional)
1 can black or great northern beans, rinsed and very well drained OR 1 1/2 cups fresh cooked beans, drained
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley** (about 1 bunch)
1/2 cup minced cilantro**(about 1 bunch)
1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves**

*Cook quinoa. (Rinse 1 cup quinoa several times, then add 2 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook until all water is absorbed. Chill the hot quinoa in the fridge (or quick-chill by putting it in the freezer and stir about every 10 minutes 'till it's cold). QUINOA MUST BE COMPLETELY COLD BEFORE YOU ADD THE OTHER INGREDIENTS, as the texture changes to light and fluffy when cold, which is what you want for this dish.

For the prettiest presentation, roll the fresh herbs in tight little bundles, then thinly slice them into "herbal ribbons".
Finely dice all the veggies and put them in a mixing bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice; toss to coat.

Mix the veggies thoroughly with the cold quinoa and serve.

My family LOVES my fresh squeezed lemonade (sweetened with agave) and a handful of fresh organic mint from our garden.
It is the perfect cool and refreshing drink for Summertime!
Blessings,
Demetria :)

1 qt. fresh, ripe strawberries
a good handful of fresh mint leaves
1-2 tbsp. honey or other natural sweetener of your choice

slice up strawberries and place in a pretty bowl
tear the mint leaves into small pieces
drizzle honey over the strawberries
gently toss the mixture and then place it in the fridge for a couple hours to let the flavors blend and chill

1-2 frozen bananas
1 small apple cut up
1-2 oranges peeled and cut up
1-2 handfuls of spinach and/or kale
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
1-2 cups of water as needed

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Start out with 1 cup of water and add more as needed. If bananas aren't frozen, you can try adding some ice if you'd like.

Try this as a wonderfully refreshhing relish on crackers etc.

1 cup boiling water to -
1 pkt Lime Jelly crystals
Grate in 2 cups of cucumber and 1 grated/chopped onion.
Add salt/cracked pepper to taste.
1/2 cup white vinegar.
1 Tbsp of chopped mint. (I add more)
Store in a jar in the fridge.
Magic!!

A few days ago on Dr Oz he and another surgeon said they put a drop of peppermint oil on the wrist and rub it in then inhale it from their hand. It is said to make them more alert and improves mental ability ie: mathematics.

This is a recipe for a low-fat shake which I drink for breakfast alongside a boiled egg or two and a slice of toast with a light butter coating a couple times a week. Into a drink blender, add 2 heaping tablespoons (like the kind you eat from) cocoa powder; about 1 cup of 2% or 1% organic low-fat milk; 1 sliced or hand-squished (over and into blender) medium or large peeled, de-seeded ripe avocado; 3 or so medium to large mint leaves (switching from peppermint and fresh chocolate mint to spearmint or other mints keeps the shake minty but never boring) and blend until all ingredients are combined thoroughly. *When blending, should the shake become too thick for the blades to move it, in small increments carefully add milk until ingredients flow freely. Should the shake need additional mint, throw a few more leaves in and mix away!

How much sugar is in this smoothie counting the sugar content in a banana and milk?

A shake with milk and a whole avocado is certainly not low fat. Nor is it healthy with the cow's milk. Replace the cow's milk with a home made nut or seed milk. I like hemp seed milk.

 

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