Water Mint (Mentha aquatica)

Perennial
M. hirsuta.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Water Mint
Mentha aquatica
Labiatae

The plant repels flies, mice and rats[14, 20, 244]. It has a pleasant, fresh scent and was formerly used as a strewing herb and has been strewn in granaries to keep mice and rats off the grain[14, 244].

The plant, harvested before flowering, yields about 0.8% essential oil[240]. The fresh or dried plant is very good when used in herbal baths and can also be used in herb pillows[244].

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves are anodyne, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emetic, refrigerant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator[4, 9, 21]. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments[222]. It is also used as a mouth-wash and a gargle for treating sore throats, ulcers, bad breath etc[9]. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use[238].

    The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses[222].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked. A strong distinctive peppermint-like fragrance[183]. Used as a flavouring in salads or cooked foods[5]. The leaves are too pungent for most people to use as a flavouring[244].

    A herb tea is made from the leaves[21, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division[K]. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry[1, 16, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it also succeeds in partial shade. Plants can grow in water up to 15cm deep[24]. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil[K]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The whole plant, especially when bruised, has a pungent aroma of bergamot[245]. The flowers are especially attractive to bees and butterflies[24]. A good companion for brassicas[14]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
Europe, including Britain, south and east to N. Africa and southwest Asia Also in S. Africa, Madeira

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.