Mint is an awesome everyday herb that is actually pretty easy to grow, too. (Check out this site for some tips on growing your own peppermint and spearmint.) As an oil, mint is great for use in cooking, baking, and making drinks. Medicinally, mint is probably most commonly known for its role in aiding digestion, which is why you may find some restaurants offering mint teas after a large meal--perhaps that can be an upcoming weekly tip!
But for now, I'd like to focus on my original inspiration for this post, which is the use of mint in making homemade toothpaste. When I first looked into making my own toothpaste about a year ago, I was a bit concerned that I might be missing out on some important things, like flouride, that you often find added to commercial toothpastes. But after researching several different sources, I found most agreed that you typically would end up getting enough flouride from your drinking water, so there's not really much to worry about in using your own toothpaste.
Almost all of the recipes I found called for some combination of baking soda, peppermint oil, glycerine, and table salt. I wasn't able to find the original recipe I had used last year, but this one from About.com is pretty darn close:
How to Make Natural Toothpaste
- Mix three parts baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) with one part table salt (sodium chloride).
- Add three teaspoons of glycerine for every 1/4 cup of dry mixture.
- Add enough water to make a thick paste. If desired, a few drops of peppermint oil may be added to improve the taste.
- Apply and use just as you would any other toothpaste. Store unused toothpaste at room temperature in a covered container.
Here is another recipe from Glenbrook Farms that is a bit more involved, but it's a tooth powder, which might be even better than a paste because it will keep longer. Plus, it calls for some really interesting ingredients such as myrrh powder and raspberry leaf. I haven't tried this one yet, but it's definitely on my to-do list now!
(Yields about 1 cup)
1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/2 cup bentonite clay powder
11/2 teaspoon Myrrh powder
1 teaspoon dried Raspberry leaf
1 teaspoon dried white oak bark powder
1 teaspoon flavoring herbs of your choice (Fennel, Peppermint, Spearmint, in powder form)
5 drops Essential Oil of Tea Tree
Pour the Baking Soda (soda reduces the acid level in the mouth. High acid creates tooth decay) and Bentonite clay powder into a medium-size mixing bowl. Add all the dry ingredients, including the Myrrh powder,( which helps to prevent periodontal disease) to the Baking Soda/Clay mixture. Mix well with a wire whisk. Add the Tea Tree oil, again mixing well. Place a clean cover over the bowl, covering it completely. Let sit overnight. The next morning, mix well again . Package in an wide-mouthed jar. It will last indefinitely if you keep moisture out of the package.
To use: Wet your toothbrush, then sprinkle a small quantity of toothpaste powder onto your brush. Brush thoroughly and gently in an up and down motion. Rinse, Feel the natural clean!