Mentha aquatica L., anti-pollution properties

Botanical Focus
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Mint, known for its therapeutic and aromatic properties, has been harvested for various reasons since ancient times. Archaeologists found dried mint leaves in the tombs of the Egyptians from the 1st century BC. Its medicinal properties were discovered by the Assyrians and Babylonians who used it to aid digestion, while the Hebrews used it to create mint body oil. Whereas the Ancient Greeks forbade their soldiers from using it because they considered it to be an aphrodisiac! Mint made its return to western pharmacies in the 18th century. Since then, it has remained one of the most widely used plants in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.

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Mentha aquatica L.

Botanists have identified over 70 varieties of mint: wild, Moroccan, Indian, chewing gum, pepper and basil, to name a few.

Originally from Southern Europe, Aquatic Mint is a wetland plant that thrives near ponds, streams, and rivers. Also known as “balm of the rivers” or “frog mint”, it is characterized by its ribbed, velvety stems punctuated with oval, serrated, pale green leaves often tinged with purple. This perennial herb, from the Lamiaceae family, is present on all continents, but in France, it flowers between July to October.  The result is a display of a multitude of little flowers with five petals forming a pretty, rounded bouquet, ranging from white to mauve in colour.

Klorane laboratories took an interest in aquatic mint – Mentha aquatica L. – for its high content in menthol and polyphenols, its proven anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and to study its decontaminating action.

Powerful anti-pollution properties

 

The prestigious Tsinghua University in China, recognized for its work on environmental and ecological issues, recently highlighted the ability of Mentha aquatica L. to clean up contaminated fresh water. Building on this discovery, Professor Claude Grizon's CNRS laboratory (Montpellier, France) specializing in phyto-depollution research, supported by Klorane Botanical Foundation, has begun to conduct experiments on the decontaminating properties of mint at Saint-Laurent-le-Minier in the heart of the Cévennes mountain range (Gard, France). The area was previously mined from the Gallo-Roman era up until its closure 27 years ago. Water at this site remains contaminated with heavy metals. With the support of the Klorane Botanical Foundation, the Laboratory constructed a filtering device to capture contaminated particles using the natural power of Mentha aquatica L.

 

This experiment operates at two locations: First, filtration columns containing Aquatic Mint root powder (they are dried and crushed) were installed upstream to capture the contaminants when they flow out of the mines. This purifies the water at the source of the river and any metals collected in the filters are recycled for reuse. Second, Aquatic Mint was planted in one of the upstream ponds to filter the water again before it reaches the river, but this time using live roots.

After a few months, samples taken show complete decontamination of downstream waters. The combat continues to fully restore the purity of this magnificent site, much appreciated by hikers and families.

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Aquatic Mint to the rescue of polluted scalps

Inspired by the effectiveness of Nature's decontaminating powers, Klorane botanists studied the effects of Mentha aquatica L. on the scalp.

Pollution affects our body and hair on many levels. When we live in the city, urban pollutants from dust, transport fumes, and tobacco smoke settle on and smother our scalps. In the short term, the pollutants can create the impression of having “lifeless hair”. However, in the long term, the effects of pollution can result in a damaged scalp that is no longer able to grow beautiful, healthy hair.

Thankfully the results of Aquatic Mint on scalps and hair subjected to urban pollution are incredibly positive. Aquatic Mint has proven results to show a detoxified scalp, protected and refreshed hair, full of bounce.

Klorane decided to cultivate Aquatic Mint on our land in southwest France in accordance with the principles of organic farming. Following harvesting, Mentha aquatica L. is frozen to preserve all its freshness. Next, we obtain a pure extract of Aquatic Mint using thermomechanical extraction (a solvent-free extraction method derived from green chemistry). The extract is then used to develop a hair care range specially designed to soothe hair and scalps damaged by pollution.