A Mint By SO Many Names
I like buying starter plants online during the winter. It let's me keep my hands in the dirt and it gives me the ability to see if a certain vendor/shop has knowledge, good products so I can use later if needed.
I ordered this beauty a few weeks ago. The reason I want to talk about this plant is it was sold as "true mint". No other description, just true mint. Some people believe that peppermint is true mint. Others spearmint. The plant came with one of the white sticks in it that explains what the plant is, how to care for it, best place to plant and it's uses. It said mint. No other description.
The reason I'm sharing this with you is most mint plants look the same and unless you grow them or handle them on the regular, you're not going to know the difference on sight. That's why it's always important to know the Latin name of the herb you need so that it is readily identifiable on the "stick" that comes with your herbs. You could very well go in wanting one herb and walking out with a different one that may have different uses/contraindications then you were planning for. Spearmint is Mentha spicata and Peppermint is Mentha x piperita. Upon sight, spearmint has smaller, brighter green leaves and has a sweeter scent and taste (spearmint gum). Peppermint has darker green leaves with a little purple and darker stems. The smell and taste is straight up peppermint patty. Peppermint is also about 40% menthol! You know it's going to be strong!
Both are great for digestive issues and pain relief. The leaves can be chewed to quickly freshen breath. For people who have acid reflux, I would guide them towards spearmint over peppermint. Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus. This could potentially make indigestion and heartburn worse.
Lesson? Make sure the herb you're shopping for is the herb you're going home with. Google is quick to give up the Latin names when asked and most good herbal books will have them listed in the plant descriptions as well. I know you're DYING to know which is true mint? It's kind of a which came first question! Although Peppermint is considered a "true mint" it is actually a hybrid of spearmint and water mint (an incredible shore plant that helps with erosion control) that was "discovered" in Europe in 1753. In my thoughts, it would be Spearmint, an original!
Spring is around the corner and until then, I'm gardening indoors! I would love for you to share with me your indoor gardens or plants! Let's see that green!
Hope you are all staying healthy and warm. Be Well, Blessed Ones