There are many unique mint varieties, refer to Marvellous Mint 1 to find out more

MARVELLOUS MINT PART 4 – 11 recipes for health

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Written for the UK Herb Society by Lynda Warren, Herb Society Ambassador and Public Speaker
The photos used in this post belong to Lynda Warren and should not be replicated. All images © 2022

Please note: Fresh and dried herbs Even though fresh and dried herbs are a natural product; they contain chemical substances that may sometimes have marked side-effects. Herbs may, on rare occasions, also cause allergic reactions and interact with prescription and over the counter medicines. If in any doubt, please consult a doctor.

Recipes for fresh herbs in health and well being

The following “recipes” are for personal information and interest only. It is not intended to offer professional medical advice or treatment for any health conditions or to self-diagnose. Any health concerns should always be discussed with your doctor.

Also, you cannot make your own products for sale without a lot of research and testing. You will need a cosmetic safety assessment, also known as a CPSR. This will confirm if your product is safe to sell to the public and in compliance with the UK cosmetic regulations. You will also need product safety liability insurance. There is a lot of information on this on the Internet, including Government websites.

If you are interested in using herbs for personal yourself, here are few things to consider about additional ingredients you may need:

  • Honey needs to be raw and treatment free, preferably local. Do not give to children under 2 years old.
  • Lemons should always be unwaxed, or you can find 100% organic lemon juice in glass bottles in some supermarkets, when available. I prefer Sorento lemons, they are much larger and juicer than other varieties
  • Olive oil, and other oils, should preferably be organic and extra virgin

Most of the equipment you will need will be found in your kitchen cupboards and includes:

Culinary muslin Sterilised glass jars with lids
Dark glass dropper bottles and roll- on bottles for essential oil blends Saucepan
Fine mesh strainers Kitchen scales
Food processor Tea strainers and sieves
Funnels – wide necked Pestle and mortar or spice grinder
Heat proof glass measuring jugs Blender
Wooden spoons and spatulas Teacups or mugs
Teaspoons and tablespoons Glass pipettes for measuring individual drops of essential oil
Pyrex or other safety glass bowl

You may prefer to keep some of these items separate to those you use for cooking, to avoid any strong aromas in your food.

Fresh herbs for general health and well-being

Herbs are one of the best ‘recipes’ for health and well-being and I hope that the following ideas will be of interest to you. Most herbs can be used in the following ways; however, I have given ideas for the use of mint. Some of the photographs may show other herbs being used with the same method.

Herbal teas/tisanes
Tisanes (pronounced Tiana) are herb ‘teas’, made by steeping fresh or dried herb leaves in hot water. You may remember reading about Poirot drinking a tisane in Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, to which he attributed his health and that it kept his ‘little grey cells’ active. Although we don’t know which tisane he preferred, some suggest it may have been mint, others camomile.

Whatever your choice of herb, proper brewing is essential. If you just want to try out a couple of different herb teas, it’s not necessary to buy any new equipment, but I wouldn’t suggest using your daily tea pot – there may be a lingering flavour or odour that the other members of the family might not appreciate! A mug will do.

If you want to drink herb tea regularly, perhaps you have an old cafetière at the back of a cupboard, you could use that. Or maybe invest in a tisaniere, a glass teapot with a central chamber that holds the leaves but allows them to infuse the water with flavour. The transparent glass allows you to see the colour develop which helps with knowing when it is ready.

herbal tea

Recipe 1: Mint tea (to aid digestion) = 3 tablespoon fresh mint (or 1 tablespoon dried herbs) + 1 mug of water that has just gone off the boil.

To make a good herb tea, add water that has just ‘gone off the boil’ to the fresh or dried herbs in a pot or mug. Stir it and allow it to steep for three to five minutes. In the first minute of your infusion, you start to get some of the colour, in the second minute the flavour, but you need to wait another minute for the antioxidants that make tea so great. You can add honey to sweeten, but don’t add milk!

I like the idea of the Tea of Happiness, a traditional drink originating in Provence, France. Sometimes, in our busy world, just a few minutes of quiet time with a pleasant tasting hot drink is enough to make us feel a little better.

Make a mix of the following dried herbs in the quantities of two parts each camomile, lime flowers and vervain (from the same family as lemon verbena), one part each lavender and peppermint. Keep in an airtight box. Use two to four teaspoons per mug in a herb strainer, with water that has just boiled and leave for three minutes to brew. It is supposed to help periods of excessive stress and promote a restful sleep.

I’ve bought herb teas in the supermarket for several years now, but I couldn’t work out why most of them they tasted of liquorice, which I don’t like. One day, when I had some time to spare, I went through all the ingredients of the herbal teas that were on the shelf of my local supermarket. People started to give me funny looks as I was spending so much time just at one area, but by the time I had finished I estimated that 80% had liquorice in them, I can only imagine it was used as a ‘filler’, I certainly don’t think it added to the taste and I was a bit surprised as it is well known as a laxative.

However, there are companies that offer a ‘pure’ herb tea and it’s well worth looking out for them, they are sometimes a little dearer, but they really do taste better. Or use your own fresh herbs and dry some to store for the future.


Recipe 2: Infusions = 3 tablespoon of fresh herbs (or 1 tablespoons dried herbs) + mug of water that has just gone off the boil.
These are not usually used as a ‘daily’ tea but to treat a mild complaint such as indigestion. With a stronger taste, infusion is the process of steeping (soaking) herbs in water until the water absorbs the oils and flavours. It is the best way to harness the softer, green, or flowering parts of a plant.

Using the same amount of herbs as for tea (often called a weak infusion), true infusions are left to steep for 10-15 minutes. Again, use honey if you need something a little sweeter.

Let’s move on to some other ways of using herbs.


Recipe 3: Syrups = 1 cup water + 1 cup sugar + 1 cup of herbs
This is a quick and easy way to prepare herbs. Chop up and bruise your herbs and boil in a sugar and water solution until it becomes thick and syrupy (about 30 minutes). Then strain, bottle, and store in the refrigerator. Add to hot water, again to ease digestion –are you beginning to get the hang of the fact that mint is all about your tunny?

(Tinctures: Tinctures combine a solution of alcohol or alcohol and water, along with the plant that you’re using for medicinal benefits. As these are more challenging, complex and time consuming to make, I would suggest purchasing them from a reputable company).


External use of fresh and dried herbs


Recipe 4. Compress = Herb tea + face flannel or other absorbent material
A compress is a cloth, or another material applied under pressure to an area of the skin and held in place until some relief is given. A compress can be either hot or cold and most are used to relieve inflammation.

First make a strong tea,. I like to use about 3 tablespoons of mint per cup of boiling water in a muslin bag (to prevent the bits getting everywhere!). Soak a clean piece of fabric/cotton material in the tea and squeeze excess tea out of the cloth. Place the soaked cloth on your skin and wrap around the area in need.


Essential oils
These are extracted from the flowers, stems, roots, or leaves of plants. They are not oils in the chemical sense, like vegetable oils, which are fatty substances. Essential oils are present in most plants in very small quantities, only aromatic plants produce the oil in larger amounts. They are used by the plant to defend itself and attract pollinating insects.

They are extracted by steam distillation) for aromatic plants, or by cold pressing for citrus fruits (a mechanical process to collect the oils from the peel). Essential oils smell great, reduce stress, treat fungal infections, and help you sleep.

However, there are some safeguards that you should take:

  • I do not recommend the internal use of any essential oils, unless prescribed by a qualified clinical aromatherapist, only external uses are discussed here
  • Do not use undiluted on skin unless specified, a safe dilution is approximately 2 drops of aromatic oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil such as sweet almond or olive
  • Essential oils may cause allergic reactions in some people, you will be more likely to have an allergic reaction to an essential oil if you have dermatitis or eczema, or a history of skin reactions to topical products or known pollen allergy
  • When using a new essential oil for the first time, only use one drop to make sure you don’t have a reaction or sensitivity to the oil, try a test patch and leaving for 24 hours
  • Do not apply to broken or irritated skin. If sensitivity occurs, discontinue use
  • If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or under medical supervision, seek professional advice before use
  • Keep products out of reach of children
  • Keep products away from eyes
  • Remember that oils are flammable and keep away from heat and light

There are many well-known, safe, suppliers of essential oils. In fact, some have become household names. I would advise that you don’t buy essential oils from suppliers on the internet that you have never heard of. All oils should be 100% natural, it’s worth checking they have not been adulterated with other materials.

Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are usually combined with a carrier oil to create a product that’s ready for use. They are commonly used in the practice of aromatherapy, in which they are inhaled through various methods. Inhaling the aromas from essential oils can stimulate areas of your limbic system, which is a part of your brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviours, sense of smell, and long-term memory, hence the association of rosemary with remembrance.


Recipe 5. Direct inhalation = Straight from the essential oil bottle.
For an instant reaction, hold the bottle up against your nose or place a few drops on a tissue. Take a deep breath to inhale and rest for a few minutes. This excellent use of essential oils can help clear the head instantly. Peppermint is good for headaches, both with direct inhalation and steam inhalation.


Recipe 6. Steam inhalation = 2-3 cups of hot water + 2-5 drops of essential oil.
Boil 2-3 cups of water, pour it into a heat proof bowl and add 2-5 drops of oil to the water and position it safely on a table. Place your nose about 30cms away from the bowl, cover your head and bowl with a towel, and slowly inhale the steam. As with any other treatment, if you notice any discomfort or irritation, stop immediately.


Recipe 7. Massage and body oils = 10-12 drops essential oils + 30ml sweet almond carrier oil
You will also need pipettes for measuring and small glass roll-on or spray bottles. Add the essential oil to the roll-on ball or spray bottle, top up with the carrier oil. Shake gently before use. Be sure to keep everything scrupulously clean and use sterilised, dry bottles. Label with contents and date. Use within 3-4 months.

A mix of peppermint and lavender will help ease severe headaches.

Almond carrier oil
Do not use nut oils if you have a nut allergy. Nut free carrier oils are available.

  • Almond Oil has two variants: Bitter Almond Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. The Sweet variety is the carrier oil used for cosmetic purposes, as the Bitter variety produces a harmful component when processed
  • The oil is derived from the ripe seeds/kernels of almond fruits by cold pressing, which preserves the oil’s quality by protecting it from heat, sometimes the extraction process requires a previous pulverization of the seeds
  • Sweet almond oil has been used for centuries to soothe the skin and treat minor wounds and cuts. It has been used in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic practices to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
  • As well as soothing dry skin, it can improve complexion and skin tone and helps balance the absorption of moisture and water loss, it is antibacterial and full of vitamin A and E that helps heal sun damage, reducing the signs of aging and fade scars


Recipe 8. Lip Balm = 10 drops essential oils + 50g cosmetic quality beeswax + 250ml olive oil
You will also need stirrers, double boiler, or heat proof bowl and a small saucepan, a small heatproof jug and small glass or metal lip balm containers. Have everything ready before starting – it all happens quickly once you begin.

Measure the beeswax and olive oil into the top of the double boiler or heat proof bowl. There should be enough water in the bottom of the boiler or saucepan so that the top is resting just on the water. Heat the ingredients over a medium heat until the beeswax has dissolved into the oil, stirring occasionally, and wiping the sides down into the bowl. It is important that no water gets into the mix.

Turn off and remove from the heat before adding essential oils. Stir carefully and transfer to the heatproof jug to make pouring easier. Carefully pour into the containers but do not put the lid on until the mix is completely cold and solid. Label with contents and date and use within six months. Peppermint keeps your lips hydrated and feeling fresh.


  • Honeybees use beeswax to create the hexagonal beeswax comb to store honey, pollen and for the queen to lay her eggs, 3kg of honey produces just 0.5kg of beeswax!
  • It is a natural emulsifier, binding oils, and water to make creams, it is also a highly stable ingredient making it a great base in balms
  • Beeswax forms a natural barrier on the skin surface, protecting skin from environmental irritants and harsh weather
  • It is one of the best skin-softening ingredients and enhances skin elasticity, it is an ideal ingredient in skincare to provide texture, soften skin and aid the retention of moisture
  • It is anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial and germicidal, making it great for all skin types but particularly beneficial for sensitive skin

Olive oil

  • Olive oil comes. naturally enough, from the olive tree, after harvesting the nuts are crushed into a paste separating the oil from the pulp
  • It moisturises and protects skin and hair
  • It contains a lot of antioxidant compounds such as vitamin E, hydroxytyrosol (a plant polyphenol) and oleic acid, which will help to fight free-radical activity on the skin and therefore help to keep it firm and bright
  • It also contains squalene, a compound that can be found in the human sebum (an oily substance produced naturally by the body), meaning the oil will help to restoreskin’s moisture and be easily absorbed.


Recipe 9. Easy skin balm = 12-15 drops essential oils + 60ml Neal’s Yard ointment
The only equipment you need is a clean jar and a stirrer. I find it easier to use an ointment that someone else has prepared! All you must do is blend the oils with the ointment in the jar and – hey presto – there’s your skin balm. Label with contents and date.

Neal’s Yard ointment

  • A prepared blend of water, glycerine, beeswax, and other oils
  • It is a soothing, vitamin-rich, and fragrance-free ointment that’s Allergy Certified when used on its own and gentle enough for sensitive skin


Recipe 10. Soap = 12 drops essential oil + 250g glycerine soap base
This is my favourite soap recipe as there are no harsh chemicals and it is so easy to make. If supervised (because of the hot water) children could easily make them for Christmas presents, although they may work out quite expensive compared to commercially available soaps.

You will also need a stirrer, double boiler, or heat proof bowl and a small saucepan, a small heatproof jug, soap moulds and rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit) in a spray bottle. Prepare the soap moulds by spraying with the rubbing alcohol to prevent bubbles. Then, using the same process as for lip balm, melt the glycerine, remove off the heat and add the essential oils. Stir well, transfer into the jug and pour into the soap moulds. Once again spray the top with rubbing alcohol to avoid bubbles. Leave to get completely cold before easing the soap carefully from the mould and wrapping in wax paper and labelling with contents and date.

Makes two small bars of soap. Mint is very refreshing, and I sometimes add dried herbs to give texture and act as an exfoliant.

Glycerine soap base

  • A co product of soap making, historically of animal and fossil origin
  • I use a clear 100% vegetable glycerine product from rapeseed, sunflower, or palm oil
  • It is an exceptionally good moisturiser, it soothes, hydrates, and slows down the evaporation of water from the surface of the skin leaving it better hydrated, more supple and protected

Rubbing alcohol

  • In the UK, rubbing alcohol is sometimes known as surgical spirit
  • It usually contains isopropyl alcohol among other ingredients, such as water
  • Most rubbing alcohol brands contain70% isopropyl alcohol
    It goes by a few different labels – you might see product labels referring to it as rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing IPA disinfectant, however, regardless of what is on the label, they all essentially do the same thing


Recipe 11. In a bath – 1 cup of Epsom salts + 2-3 drops of essential oil
Adding essential oils to your bath is one of the best ways to relax at the end of a busy day. Hot baths enhance the blood flow inside your body and enable the blood vessels to operate better.

You will need to buy a box of simple Epsom salts (available from the chemist and some supermarkets) as the base for your essential oils. If you just drop the oils straight into the water, they will not dissolve as nicely as they do when first mixed into the salts. It’s important that you only use Epsom salts rather than any commercially produced and blended products. Mix one cup of Epsom salts with two to three drops of your favourite essential oil/s.


January’s blog will look at the use of mint in beauty and around the home.

Written by Lynda Warren UK Herb Society Ambassador and Public Speaker. Find out more or get in touch via our Ambassador’s page here.