Water Mint (Mentha aquatica)

Water Mint or Mismín mionsach in Irish is a native plant and the most common of the Mint family found in Dublin. It grows on damp soil along canals or riverbanks, in marshes and some coastal areas. It is recognised by it purple-mauve flowers blooming from July to October and pleasant scent. It grows from 6 - 36 inches in height. Water Mint is difficult to cultivate but is very similar to others in the mint family. Along with Meadowsweet and Vervain it was one of the herbs held sacred by the Druids in Ireland long ago. During the Middle Ages it was strewn on floors where banquets were held and in bed chambers. When people walked on the mint the scent was released into the air. In Co Kerry it was smoked instead of tobacco.

Medicinally Water Mint makes a pleasant infusion and is useful for complaints of the digestive system - colic, constipation, diarrhoea, nervous stomach etc. It helps to cleanse the liver and stimulate the appetite and circulation. For this, it is best to take a strong infusion in the mornings. A mild infusion taken at night is useful for its sedative effects and for deadening pain. To make an infusion add 1 oz. of herb to a pint of boiling water. Cover and leave for 10 minutes before straining out the herb.

There are many different types of Mint including Peppermint, Pennyroyal, Catnip etc. Originally introduced into this country, they are now classed as native plants. Perhaps the best known is Peppermint. In 1898 it was observed that Peppermint grew plentifully in the wild state by the river Lee in Cork. Later, when experiments were done by Professor O'Reilly at U.C.C. to test essential oils in herbs, Peppermint was shown to have high yields equal to those produced in the South of England at the time.

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