by Tim Keim

One of the most common families of herbs, are the mints. Mint, basil, oregano, lavender, rosemary, and thyme are a few often used in the kitchen to boost the flavor of many foods, but they also have powerful medicinal uses and high safety profiles. They are also hardy enough to withstand even the most lackadaisical gardener. Once you get them established, these herbs will thrive without much attention; and provide a healthy harvest free of charge year after year.

What we call mint may be either peppermint, spearmint, or horsemint. Of the three, peppermint is the most stimulating and often used to calm frazzled nerves and an upset stomach. Spearmint, more relaxing than its cousin, finds good usage as a diuretic (promotes urination), and subsequently soothes urinary inflammation. Horsemint finds its stride as an antispasmodic and is often applied to ease difficult menstruation. The common thread in the above conditions is heat, and all of these mints are cooling and therefore pacify inflamed tissues. All three may be used to bring on a productive sweat to break a cold, flu, or fever. A tea of ½ gram of mint leaves makes a flavorful medicine (Yoga of Herbs, Frawley & Lad, p. 129). Menthol, one of the main constituents of mint, is also known for its antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties (Menthol: a simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties – PubMed (

While the above mints are cool, some of their relatives use the heating principle to penetrate tissues to address disease conditions. One of these is oregano, also known by its original Greek name which translates to “brightness of the mountain.” This is one of my personal favorites for culinary as well as medicinal uses. Oregano is one of the most potent antivirals by virtue of its powerful ingredients, carvacrol and thymol. Both produce significant action against numerous antibiotic-resistant strains of disease-causing organisms like Staphylococcus aureus; and here’s the kicker, these germs did not become resistant to oregano’s heavy hitter constituents, carvacrol and thymol (

Carvacrol has gotten the attention of researchers because it demonstrates strong binding activity to an enzyme on the coronavirus that involves replication and maturation of the virus. Evidence also suggests that it blocks viral entry into the host cell (Carvacrol, a Plant Metabolite Targeting Viral Protease (Mpro) and ACE2 in Host Cells Can Be a Possible Candidate for COVID-19 ( I have always used oregano oil in my battles against viral illness over the past few years. It has helped me knock out each illness in under 24 hours. Nothing from the pharmacy can match that kind of effectiveness. This is the kind of medicine that can help us defeat COVID-19 whether vaccines remain potent or not.

Because of viral resistance to so many pharmaceutical medicines, scientists are looking eagerly at plant compounds for the potential to vanquish HIV, influenza, herpes, and hepatitis. They found another great candidate: oleanolic acid from the herb, rosemary. A 2018 study in the journal, Molecules, found that a synthesized factor of oleanolic acid showed “remarkable” activity to inhibit HIV replication. Oleanolic acid also inhibited herpes and influenza viruses (Antiviral Activities of Oleanolic Acid and Its Analogues (

Holy Basil, also called Tulsi, is another competitive star to crush viral disease. Holy Basil showed its efficacy in a disease model using chicken embryos infected with the H9N2 influenza virus. The simple crude extract reduced the viral load of the infected eggs. A single dose provided protection for about 72 hours by blocking viral entry into the cells under attack. These results compared favorably with the control pharmaceuticals oseltamivir and amantadine (Evaluation of antiviral activity of Ocimum sanctum and Acacia arabica leaves extracts against H9N2 virus using embryonated chicken egg model | BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies | Full Text (

Plant medicines are safe and capable all on their own of dispelling disease and don’t need expensive, exclusive, patent-protected meddling by pharmaceutical companies to turn them into drugs with a whole raft of dangerous side-effects.

So, dive into the mints. They’re easy to grow and use. Get some gustatory pizzazz by sprinkling them into salads, eggs, meats, marinades, et cetera. Make teas, throw some rosemary into your bath water, bake them into cookies. Their usefulness has no limits. This way lies health, vigor and longevity.

Tim Keim, IAYT is a Certified Yoga Therapist and a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialis from the California College of Ayurveda. He’s an author and a speaker based in Pittsboro. He can be reached at