Mentha piperita
Mentha spicata
entha silvestris
Mentha viridis
Mentha pulegium

This herb proliferates and interbreeds so easily
that one can come across more than 20 different
species with only insignificant differences among
them, but all share the quality of emitting an intoxicating aroma.


As Persephone was taking a stroll along the banks of river Acheron (in Greek and Roman mythology the river of woe), she stumbled upon her husband, Pluto, and his lover, young nymph Minthe.

In a fit of rage Persephone turned Minthe into a lowly plant with mauve tiny flowers, completely inconspicuous to human eyes. Pluto felt sorry for Minthe and endowed her with a divine fragrance. Since then, this lowly herb has been honoured profusely by gastrononers all over the world.

The ancient Greeks believed that mint could invigorate the mind and refresh the blood. They also used it as a remedy for headaches. In fact, after nights of heavy drinking, ancient Greeks would place a wreath of mint on their heads to “exorcise” an impending hangover.

The Romans loved the smell of mint and had found ample culinary uses for it. They even scented their bathing water with this fine aromatic herb. Mint is also one of the ingredients for a sauce recipe by famous ancient Roman cook Atticius. This recipe consisted of the herb of grace (rue), mint, coriander, fennel, pepper, lovage, honey and some olive oil.


Mint is considered an excellent tonic, antispasmodic and stomach comforter. It invigorates the function of liver and bile.

Steam baths in menthol, mint’s volatile oil, are quite invigorating, antiseptic and disinfectant.

A teaspoon of honey in lukewarm fresh mint tea can check tummy aches/distension and stomach ulcers. It also checks the vomiting of women at gestation periods and motion sickness.


Laurus nobilis A delicate bushy tree with nice, dark green leatherly leaves and impressive yellowish flowers. The foot laur in Laurus is either Celtic meaning green or Latin meaning praise or honour.


Apollo fell in love with the daughter of river-god Ladonas, Dafne, an extremely beautiful maiden, but quite independent, even a wild creature. When Apollo chased her to express his love for her, she took refuge with goddess Gea (Earth) who transformed her into a slender tree, the laurel tree.

The myth goes on with Apollo slaying the dragon Python at the banks of a river; then Apollo bathed in the waters of this river, cut laurel sprigs from its banks and marched triumphant into the town of Delphi crowned with laurel leaves. Since then the laurel became a symbol of purification, victory, glory and honour. The laurel plant was also sacred to physician Asclepius.


The women of Crete would expose to direct sunlight a vase of green olive oil with laurel berries. This oil was used as hair tonic, for massaging the limbs suffering from rheumatism or for muscle fractures. Farmers would also sprinkle their stock with laurel-water to keep away parasites. In addition, the powder from dried laurel leaves is good for stopping hemorrhage from the nose.

Furthermore, laurel tea aids stomach function and digestion.

Myrsini Lambraki
Herbs, Greens, Fruit: The Key to the Mediterranean Diet
Author: Myrsini Lambraki
Copyright: Myrsini Lambraki, Raftopoulou St. 31, 71305 Heraklion, Crete
Tel. and Fax: +30 2810 210052 & 2810 346554
Mobile Phone: 6945 468190
Website: http:
Photographs: Panagiotis Beltzinitis, Myrsini Lambraki, Douwe Hoogstins
Translations: George Trialonis, Tel: +30-81-341832
ISBN: 960-91513-4-5

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