Botanical Name: Mentha arvensis

Family: Labiatae

Hindi Name: Pudina

Mint is native to Europe and Asia, and was previously grown in convent gardens. Today, mint is commercially cultivated in Europe, United States, Egypt, Japan, China, Brazil, Taiwan and India.

In India, about eight varieties of mint are reportedly grown. They can be seen grown in the Nilgiris, Karnataka, Kashmir and Jammu, Punjab, Haryana, the hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh and in some parts of Andhra Pradesh.

The plant is an aromatic perennial herb which grows well in temperate and tropical climates, with sunny weather and moderate rainfall. The mentha species growing in India is said to yield mint oil, which is in great demand. The herb has running rootstocks and rigid branching stem, 60-90 cm high. The leaves and flowering tops give the highest yield of volatile oil. The essential oil of mint is mostly up from menthol, methone, menthyl esters and monoterpene derivatives.

Menthol and menthyl acetate are responsible for the pungent and refreshing odour. They are mostly found in older leaves, and are preferentially formed during long daily sunlight periods. The Japanese variety of mint that is grown extensively in India may contain up to 5 % of essential oil in its tips.

Mint has a charactenstically pure and refreshing odour, and a pungent and burning taste. The typical mint scent is most pure in peppermint, Japanese mint, and some varieties of greenmint. Mint is commonly used in chutneys, for flavouring soups, stews, teas, meat and fish, sauces, tobacco and cordials. The fresh leaf tops are used for garnishing beverages, salads, sauces, jellies, ice creams, fruit cups, etc. Mint jelly, ice-creams, fruit cups, etc. Mint jelly complements roast lamb.

Mint is used in the production of natural menthol, mouthwashes, toothpastes, cigarettes, and pharmaceutical preparations. Mint is used as a stimulant and a drug to relieve one of flatulence, spasmodic disorders, stomach ailments, and liver problems. It helps dissolve gravel in the kidneys and bladder.

It is taken internally as a carminative, inhaled as a secretolytic, and applied externally for its cooling property. The fresh leaves of mint, chewed daily, is an effective antiseptic dentifrice, preventing tooth decay, pyorrhea and premature falling of teeth. It is helpful as an anti-diarrhoeal food.

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