Botany Hierba buena is a prostrate, smooth , much-branched, usually purplish, strongly aromatic herb, with stems growing up to 40 centimeters long, with ultimate ascending terminal branches. Leaves are elliptic to oblong-ovate, 1.5 to 4 centimeters long, short-stalked with toothed margins, and rounded or blunt tipped. Flowers are hairy and purplish to bluish, borne in axillary headlike whorls. Calyx teeth are triangular or lanceolate and hairy; the corolla is also hairy.
Distribution – Native of Europe. – Introduced by the Spaniards. – Widely cultivation to some extent in all parts of the Philippines. – Thrives well at high elevations; rarely flowers in lowlands.
Constituents – Plant yields a volatile oil (0.22%) containing pulegone, menthol, menthene, menthenone and limonene. – Study showed the shoot leaf gave the highest yield of oil, 0.62%; while the stems had negligible yield. Menthol was the major component of all the oils. Other oils identified were: B-caryophyllene oxide, a-phellandrene, terpinolene, limonene, menthone and pulegone. – Phytochemical screening of powdered plant samples (root, stem, and leaves) yielded alkaloids, polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, cardiac glycosides, and diterpenes.
Properties – Carminative, stimulant, stomachic, aromatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, sudorific, emmenagogue. – Oil is rubefacient and stimulant. – Tops and leaves are carminative.
Parts utilized Leaves and stems.
Uses Nutritional– Cultivated as a spice for cooking. – Leaves used for tea. – Used in salads to provide flavor. – Used as a flavoring in confections and dentrifices. Folkloric– One of the oldest household remedies known. – In the Philippines, tops and leaves are considered carminative; when bruised used as antidote to stings of poisonous insects. – Mint is used in neuralgic affections, renal and vesical calculus. – Used for stomach weakness and diarrhea. – Decoction and infusion of leaves and stems used for fever, stomach aches, dysmenorrhea, and diuresis. – Pounded leaves for insect bites, fevers, toothaches, headaches. – Crushed fresh plants or leaves are sniffed for dizziness. – Powdered dried plant as dentrifice. – Crushed leaves are applied on the forehead and temples for headaches. – For toothaches: (1) Wet a small piece of cotton with juice expressed from crushed leaves; apply this impregnated cotton bud to the tooth. (2) Boil 6 tbsp. of leaves in two glasses of water for 15 minutes; strain and cool. Divide the decoction into 2 parts and take every 3 to 4 hours. – For flatulence: Boil 4 tbsp of chopped leaves in 1 cup water for five minutes; strain. Drink the decoction while lukewarm. Facilitates expulsion of flatus. – Alcohol or ether extract used as local anesthetic for affections of the nose, pharynx, and larynx. – Used for obstinate vomiting of pregnancy. – An alcoholic solution of menthol has been used as inhalation for asthma. Menthol is also used as local anesthesia for headache and facial neuralgia. – Decoction or vapor from menthol used with lemon grass as febrifuge. Also used in hiccups. – Plant used as emmenagogue; also used in jaundice. – Dried plant used as dentrifice. – Leaves and stems used as carminative, antispasmodic, and sudorific. – Infusion of leaves used for indigestion, rheumatic pans, arthritis and inflamed joints. – For coughs, boil 6 tbsp of chopped leaves in 2 glasses of water for 15 mins; cool and strain. Divide the decoction into three parts; take 1 part 3 times a day. – Diluted essential oil used as wash for skin irritations, burns, pruritus, scabies, ringworm and as mosquito repellent. – For arthritis, warm fresh leaves over low flame; then pound. Apply pounded leaves while warm on the painful joints or muscles. – As mouthwash, soak 2 tbsp chopped leaves in 1 glass of hot water for 30 minutes; strain. Use the infusion as mouthwash. Others – Peppermint oil is often used in pharmaceutical preparations to subdue unpleasant medicinal smells. – Menthol derived from the essential oil is used in pharmaceutical, perfumery and food industries. Studies • Radioprotective: Study of mint extract on mice showed benefit with pretreatment of mice with reduction in the severity of symptoms of radiation sickness and mortality. • Anti-candida: A study of essential oils and ethanolic extracts of leaves/roots of 35 medicinal plants in Brazil screened for anti-Candida activity. Mentha arvensis was one of 13 essential oils that showed anti-candidal activity. • Anti-fertility / Male Contraceptive: (1) A study of the ether extract of MA on male mice showed reduction of number of offspring, with decrease in testes weight, sperm count and motility, among others. Results suggest that the ether extract of MA possess reversible antifertility properties. (2) Study of aqueous extract solution in male mice caused inhibition of fertility while maintaining normal sexual behavior. All induced effects returned to normalcy within 30 days of withdrawal of 60-day treatment. • Post-coital Antifertility Effect: A study on the uterotonic fraction of MA caused significant interruption in pregnancy in rats, pronounced in the post-implantation period. • Antibiotic Resistance-Modifying: (1) A report on the ethanol extract of MA showed a potentiating effect of the extract on gentamicin and presents a potential against bacterial resistance to antibiotics. (2) Study showed extracts of M arvensis could be used as a source of plant-derived natural products with resistance-modifying activity, such as in the case of aminoglycosides – a new weapon against bacterial resistance to antibiotics, as with chlorpromazine. • Anti-Gastric Ulcer: Study of various extracts of Mentha arvensis showed a protective effect against acid secretion and gastric ulcers in ibuprofen plus pyloric ligation-induced and 90% ethanol-induced ulcer models. • Herbal Liniment / Analgesic: M arvensis provides potent analgesic action and is used externally in rheumatism, neuralgia and headaches. In an herbal liniment where it was combined with four other medicinal plants, the liniment was found effective in ligament or muscle injury pain (sprains, strains, spasms, tennis elbow, etc), less so in osteoarthritis of the joint and periarthritis of the shoulder. No adverse reactions were reported. Efficacy was noted better in synergism with oral or parenteral analgesics. • Volatile Constituents / Menthol: Study showed the shoot leaf gave the highest yield of oil, 0.62%; while the stems had negligible yield. Menthol was the major component of all the oils. Other oils identified were: B-caryophyllene oxide, a-phellandrene, terpinolene, limonene, menthone and pulegone. • Linarin / Anti-Acetylcholinesterase: Flowers extract of M arvensis yielded linarin (acacetin-7-0-b-D-rutinoside), with selective dose-dependent inhibitory effect on acetylcholinesterase. • Anti-Allergic / Anti-Inflammatory: Study on anti-allergic activity using a histamine inhibitory assay showed the ethanol extracts of leaf and root markedly inhibited the release of histamine from mast cells. On anti-inflammatory testing using a histamine-induced paw edema model, all extracts showed anti-inflammatory effect suggesting the presence of compounds capable of inhibiting histamine release from the mast cells and/or block histamine receptors. • Effect on Haloperidol-Induced Catalepsy: Study in mice suggested Mentha arvensis significantly reduced oxidative stress and cataleptic score induced by haloperidol. Results suggest it can be used to prevent the drug-induced pyramidal side effects.
Availability Wild-crafted. Commercially: Analgesic tablets, tea.
When my mother was young and was having a high fever, my grandma Claudia would wet my mom’s body and head with extracts from the leaves of Yerba Buena. My grandma also cleaned my foot skin disease with leaves of guava and burned egg yolk. She would massage my armpit and thighs when I have high fever and taught me many things about making coconut oil and other healing herbs.