Mint is one of my favourite herbs, and I have three pots of it growing just outside my kitchen door so that I can cut it easily.


During summer, I use it almost every day, usually in a salad or sprinkled over grilled courgettes, but sometimes in cooking too.  Pasta with asparagus, lemon, chilli and mint is one of my standby suppers.

Mint with aspargus and pasta

 In the sixteenth century, mint was primarily a medicinal herb.  According to Nicholas Culpeper, it  was ‘a very powerful stomachic’, used to treat hiccoughs and vomiting and to stop women’s menses.  It was good, he claimed, ‘to repress the milk in women’s breasts; and for such as have swollen, flagging , or large, breasts,’ but could also stir up ‘bodily lust’.

 Applied with salt, it helps the bite of a mad dog; with mead or honeyed water, it eases the pains of  the ears, and takes away the roughness of the tongue, being rubbed thereupon.  If the leaves are boiled or steeped in milk before drinking, it hinders the curdling thereof on the stomach. …

Applied to the forehead or temple, it eases pains of the head; it is good to wash the heads of young children, being a preventive against all manner of breakings out, sores, of scabs, thereon: it also heals chops in the fundament, and is exceedingly useful against the poison of venomous creatures. …

The powder of mint, being dried, and taken after victuals, helps digestion, and those that are splenetic.  Taken in wine, it helps women in sore travail in child-bearing.  It is good against the gravel and stone in the kidneys, and the difficulty in passing urine.  Being smelled unto, it is comfortable for the head and memory.  The decoction thereof, when used as a gargle, cures the mouth and gums, when force, and helps a stinking breath …

I have no idea what ‘the chops of the fundament’ are! Piles? Haemorrhoids?

Culpeper's Herbal

So, a handy herb for all sorts of ailments,  although Culpeper adds a warning: ‘Mints are extremely bad for wounded people; it being asserted, that whoever eats mint, when wounded, will never be cured.’

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