Southeastern wild mint identification and use
The wild mint most commonly found growing in the foothills of the Appalachians, mentha arvensis, has veined, pointy green leaves with jagged "teeth" along the edges. Leaves range from .5 to 3 inches in length and .2 to 1.5 inches in width. The blooms with hundreds of small, white flowers in early to mid summer until early fall. Plants grow up to six feet high, though they average only reach two to three feet. Breaking the plant and leaves produces a strong mint odor (durrr)
Wild mint is usually found growing naturally on the edge of fields or other places where there is plenty of sunlight. It prefers well drained soil and does well in dry, rocky ground.
The amount of purported uses for wild mint are staggering, I won't even try to mention them all here. The most common uses in alternative medicine include crushing the leaves or flowers and putting them on an aching tooth to dull the pain or seeping them in hot water to make a tea that helps to settle the stomach, ease flow during menstruation, aid indigestion or just to generally invigorate the drinker. The native Americans also used the tea or just ate the leaves to help with colds, coughs, flues and fevers. It's easy to see how the leaves could be rubbed on the chest for congestion, much like the vapor rubs you find in stores.
Mint plants repel many insects and rodents and leaves were traditionally used to keep rats and mice away from food stores. Leaves and flowers can be used as potpourri or dried and burned as incense. Leaves can also be consumed non-medicinally, being used to spice foods and season meats. Of course, mint leaves can also be chewed to freshen breath.