Mint is one of the classic ingredients in candies, gums, breath fresheners, and tea. The refreshing and invigorating flavor is a favorite of many people. However, not many of us are aware that mint is more than a flavor. It also has a wide range of impressive health benefits that are scientifically proven.
Mint, the popular name of the plant Mentha, is a genus of aperennial plant consisting of more than 15 species. Some of the most well-known species of the genus are peppermint, catnip, and bergamot.
The herbs of the mint family have been cultivated and used by humans for centuries to make candies, tea, ice creams, cosmetics, toothpaste, cigarettes, and even insecticides. Mint leaves have also been a popular ingredient in cooking to provide flavor for various food and drink recipes.
Mint leaves are not only tasty, but also healthy as they contain a high amount of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that are needed by the human body, such as vitamin C, B2, A, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Fresh mint leaves are also low in calories so they become versatile ingredients that can be added to many recipes without exceeding the recommended calorie-count limit.
Unfortunately, the medicinal properties of mint are less known than its usage as flavoring. Here are 15 of the most powerful health benefits of mint leaves.
1. Eases Nausea
Have you ever wondered why peppermint or menthol-flavored candies or gum are preferred by people who suffer from motion sickness when traveling? People have been using mint to combat nausea for a long time and the effectiveness is amazing.
This is because the soothing properties of menthol oil, derived from crushed mint leaves, will help soothe motion sickness and nausea. The powerful aroma is responsible for this effect. A study in 2013 even proved that spearmint and peppermint are good at alleviating nausea and can ease vomiting as a result of chemotherapy.
2. Relieves Headaches
Not only do mint leaves soothe nausea, but they also help us to treat headaches as one of the most effective alternative methods to synthetic pharmaceutical medicines. Some types of mint, when processed into balm or oil, are known to provide immediate relief from migraines and headaches when rubbed on the forehead and nose. Meanwhile, Brazilian mint leaves are best when taken as tea drinks. The effect even compares to that of an aspirin. This is because the soothing effect of mint leaves is very powerful.
3. Treats Gastrointestinal Disorders
The therapeutic properties of mint leaves are also believed to beeffective in treating some gastrointestinal disorders. Peppermint oil has been used in capsules to treat people who suffer from abdominal discomfort as a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, patients who suffer from non-serious diarrhea or constipation are suggested to take peppermint oil treatment to alleviate the symptoms. This works for both adults and kids.
Peppermint and caraway are also good at treating functional dyspepsia, a condition which causes upset stomach, bloating, and discomfort or pain in the upper belly. These plants are good at making the symptoms less excruciating.
People who are at high risk of gastric ulcers due to the prolonged use of alcohol or painkillers will also benefit from consuming mint leaves. The plant may have beneficial effects of protecting the stomach against the formation of gastric ulcers.
Besides, there are also a number of other benefits of mint leaves related to gastrointestinal health. Mint may even help people with gastric emptying disorders, colonic spasm, and infantile colic.
4. Aids Digestion
Mint leaves aren’t only useful to alleviate symptoms of various gastrointestinal disorders, it also promotes healthy and regular digestion. Mint leaves have a soothing property as an herb which has been used since the dawn of time to help with inflammation and upset stomach. As a powerful relaxing herb, it’s able to relax the muscles of the digestive tract. Even the aroma itself is powerful enough to activate important glands that promote proper food digestion. This is also the reason why mint leaves have been used throughout the history as an ingredient for appetizers and palate cleansers.
For people who suffer from indigestion,it is commonly advised to drinka cup of peppermint tea after having a meal. The peppermint tea will provide acalming effect and help the gut to settle down. This home remedy is an ancient recipe that is still relevant in the modern day due to its simplicity and effectiveness. If you often suffer from stomach spasms, bloating, and gas, you should take peppermint tea regularly to ease the symptoms.
5. Soothes Skin Irritation
It’s likely that some of us have never heard of this before, but we can also apply mint topically to treat various types of skin irritations, such as itchiness, rashes, insect bites, or allergic reactions. This can be done in various ways, such as by directly applying a cold or frozen peppermint tea bag, by pressing the skin with a wet cloth soaked in cool mint tea, or by mixing some mint-based essential oil and water and carefully applying it to the area.
The soothing effect is caused by the natural antiseptic properties contained in mint leaves. The natural antiseptic will heal skin infections just like its synthetic equivalent.The inflammatory properties will ease the itch and swelling while the cooling effect will offer relief to the affected area.
6. Treats Acne
Acne or pimples are also forms of skin irritation or inflammation that can be eradicated by regularly applying mint-leafextract or mint juice. Mint leaves are good skin cleansers. They can also become an excellent home remedy to treat acne scars. The antibacterial and cooling properties will clean up pores, dry up the acne, soothe the itch or burning sensation, and rehydrate the skin.
7. Repels Insects
Mosquitoes are house and outdoor insects that can cause a lot of problems –everything from regular itchy swelling to dengue fever. These insects are long-time enemies of humans. Some people use lotions to repel mosquitos. While this may be effective, a study discovered that Australian bush mint oil can be an all-natural yet effective mosquito repellant for our daily use. The repellant will not only prevent themosquito from biting, but also from even landing on our skin. We can apply the mint in the form of essential oil or in the form of crushed leaves directly on our skin. The first method is considered the most effective way to use mint leaves as amosquitorepellant. There are also other ways people have been using mint leaves to repel insects, such as by using citronella candles or citronella oil.
8. Useful for Weight Loss
Adding mint leaves to our diet turns out to yield another unexpected, wonderful benefit: It may help our attempts at shedding some pounds. Besides promoting healthy digestion, which is essential for good metabolism, mint leaves can also naturally stimulate our digestive enzymes to work better. As a result, the absorption of nutrients from the foods we consume to the bloodstream become better. Fat will also be catabolized more efficiently into energy. This means adding more mint leaves to our diet will help us lose more weight. Moreover, mint leaves are also low in calories, so we can consume many of these in asalad or appetizer without having to feel guilty.
9. Promotes Healthy Hair
Do you have aproblem with hair loss? Some causes of balding cannot be cured by external treatments, such as DNA or nutrientdeficiency, but hair growth also can be stimulated by applying the right substance to the scalp. Mint essential oil is one of these effective substances to treat baldness. If your hair starts thinning, consider applying some peppermint oil as a natural hair serumregularly.
10. Fights Cancer
The high content of potent antioxidants like vitamin C and perillyl alcohol in mint leaves makes this herb a good weapon for preventing cancer. Enriching your diet with vegetables and fruits containing a high amount of antioxidants will help lower the risk of being attacked by cancerous cells.
Mint is particularly effective at preventing prostate cancer, a big risk any man should aware of. Peppermint leaves contain menthol, which is able to slow down the development of prostate cancer cells. Besides, it also contains monoterpene, which is a form of phytonutrient that is proven to inhibit the growth of breast, liver and pancreatic cancers among animal test subjects. While there hasn’t been enough research conducted on humans, it is believed that the effect of mint on cancer cells is similar.
11. Improves the Respiratory System
The aroma of mint alone is a powerful thing that can help you fight a lot of problems. Menthol in mint leaves is a natural decongestant that can break up mucus and phlegm in your nose, throat, bronchi, and lungs. If you’re suffering from a bad cold or asthma, your congestion will be relieved by inhaling the aroma of peppermint oil or crushed mint leaves. It can even reduce inflammation that results from pulmonary tuberculosis, which is a pretty serious respiratory disorder.
Meanwhile, the relaxing effect of mint will soothe and cool sore throats and irritation in respiratory airways. This is why mint-based balms are often more effective than aerosol inhalers.
12. Improves Vision
This is another benefit of mint leaves that is not known to many people. Mint leaves are good for improving eyesight because many species of mint, such as peppermint and spearmint, are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. Those two vitamins are essential nutrients to develop healthy vision. These vitamins can also help fight free radicals, which can be responsible for many eye problems including macular degeneration and cataracts.
Consuming just a half cup of fresh peppermint leaves will give a man nearly a quarter of the needed daily dosage of vitamin A. Spearmint even contains a lot more vitamin A than peppermint: the same amount will give you 62 percent of the vitamin A you need everyday.
13. Improves Memory
Do you have memory problems and difficulties staying alert? Mint leaves may help you with that. In 2006, a study was conducted to find out if peppermint aromatherapy improves memory and alertness. The answer was positive. The aroma alone is very powerful to help you stay refreshed and alert. You simply just have to shred and boil some mint leaves and put the resulting liquid in your room to reap the benefit of the aroma.
Another study even discovered that people who love chewing mint gum have better memory and alertness compared to those who don’t. This is a great reason to chew peppermint-flavored chewing gum!
14. Boosts Oral Health
Many companies use menthol and mint flavoring in their toothpaste or mouthwash products not only because the aroma of mint is very refreshing, but also because of the anti-microbial properties found in mint. The breath-freshening ingredients can help inhibit the growth of oral bacteria that cause teeth and gum problems.
Long before the invention of the modern toothpaste, people in many civilizations across the world would clean their teeth by chewing and rubbing mint leaves on their teeth. The ancient wisdom holds some truth as the extract of peppermint oil is known to be very good at exterminating germs that cause our mouths to smell bad.
15. Fights Depression
People who are depressed need to be stimulated by a substance that can lift their mood. Mint has several properties that may help with depression by naturally stimulating and energizing the brain. The aroma can be enough to soothe the mind and get rid of anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Consuming mint leaves is even better to get a quick energy boost. For the best soothing effect, put some drops of menthol oil on your pillow before you go to sleep and you will wake up feeling fresh and calm.