Health Benefits of Mint

Mint Leaves

DESCRIPTION

Mint (Mentha Arvensis) is a perennial herb with creeping root stalk and an erect stem, 1-2 quadrangulate branched with short dense hair. Leaves are 2.5 – 5cm long, oblong-ovate. Flowers are in auxiliary whorls, none at the top. Plant rises to a height of 0.4-0.8 mtr. Branching freely, flowers appearing in May-June and again in September-November under cultivation. Pepper Mint (Mentha piperita), Bergamot Mint (Mentha citrata) and Spear Mint (Mentha Spicata) are also commercially cultivated though on a lesser scale. These species are morphologically variant to that of Japanese Mint. 

ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION

These aromatic perennial herbs are distributed mostly in the Northern hemisphere. In India, it is largely confined to North India in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Temperate to tropical climate is suited for plant growth. Sunny weather with moderate rain is conducive to its luxuriant growth. A deep soil, rich in humus which can retain moisture, is suitable for mint cultivation.

USES

Mint is used for flavouring meat, fish, sauces, soups, stews, vinegar, tea, tobacco and cordials. The mint oil is used for the production of natural menthol, dementhalised oil is for flavouring mouth washes, tooth paste and pharmaceutical preparations. In medicine, it is used against stomach disorders, rheumatism, in ointments for headaches, in cough drops, inhalations etc. The oil and dried plants are antiseptic, carminative, refrigerant, stimulant and diuretic.

Health Benefits of Mint:

Relieves Common Cold Symptoms:

Mint contains menthol. This is a known aromatic decongestant that helps to break up phlegm and mucus. Applying menthol ointments or vapor rubs are used as treatment for common cold.

Helpful in Allergies:

Rosmarinic acid present in mint is a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Extracts of mint leaves inhibit the release of certain chemicals, which aggravate severe nasal symptoms associated with hay fever and seasonal allergies. A study has found that rosmarinic acid reduces symptoms of asthma when compared to a control group that did not receive a supplement.

Improves Digestion:

Mint leaves are valued as a wonderful appetizer. Mint has been used for thousands of years to treat upset stomach or indigestion. Mint helps to stimulates the salivary glands in the mouth which help the secretion of digestive enzymes and promotes the digestion process.

Mint oil is known to have strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties that helps in soothing stomach woes and ease indigestion, inflammation. It may also help in soothing Irritating Bowl Syndrome symptoms. Also mint leaves help in treating diarrhoea and relieves nausea.

Consumption of peppermint is also thought to relieve pain and discomfort from gas and bloating. Peppermint tea is a common home remedy for flatulence.

Also read about the benefits of other commonly used spices like Ginger, Fenugreek, Fennel, Curry Leaves, Cumin Seeds, Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Basil, Asafoetida, Aniseeds, on our digestion and metabolism.

Assists Breastfeeding:

Nipple sores and cracked nipples are common among lactating mothers which make breastfeeding more painful and hard. A study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal suggested that application of peppermint water may help prevent nipple cracks and nipple pain in first-time mothers who are breastfeeding.

Aniseeds and Fenugreek has also been used in Ayurveda by breast feeding mothers to increase milk production.

Promotes Respiratory Health:

Mint helps to relieve nasal and chest congestion. The potent anti-inflammatory properties of mint leaves are well-known to alleviate congestion of the throat, bronchi and lungs. Mint also provides relief from respiratory problems like asthma and cold. The cooling properties of mint leaves helps to soothe irritated nose, throat and provides relief from sore throat and cough.

Other commonly used home remedies which can help the symptoms of respiratory health and asthma are Ginger, Garlic, Curry Leaves, Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon, Chilies, Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Basil, Asafoetida, Aniseeds.

Helps Weight Loss:

The aromatic mint leaves are helpful in losing weight in a healthy way. Mint leaves help stimulating digestive enzymes, which fastens and ease the digestion process and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Mint leaves also promote digestion and boost metabolism and help in losing weight. Sugar free mint tea is a great refreshing calorie-free beverage which can help weight loss.

You may also like to read about Ginger, Fenugreek, Curry Leaves, Cloves, Cinnamon, Chilies and Aniseeds for weight loss.

You may also like to read Diet and Weight Loss.

Boosts Memory:

Mint leaves help improve memory retention and mental alertness. Several studies have found that consuming mint leaves can promote attentiveness and cognitive functions. Moreover, the stimulant qualities of mint leaves are used in chewing gums which is beneficial to trigger the brain health.

Some other commonly used spices known to aid memory are Ginger, Fenugreek, Cumins, Cinnamon and Chilies,

Also read Food for brain Health.

Oral Care:

Mint is a natural anti-microbial agent and breath freshener. The goodness of chlorophyll and antibacterial property of mint leaves helps to ward off bacteria causing bad breath. Mint leaves extract are beneficial in clearing plaque deposited in the teeth. Menthol the active compound present in mint leaves is the key element used in most of the toothpaste, mouthwashes and mouth freshener and chewing gums to combat dental problems.

You may also like to read how Fenugreek, Curry Leaves, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom and Bay Leaves help in maintaining good oral health.

Relieves Nausea:

Mint leaves, especially freshly crushed ones, may help you deal with nausea and headache. Pudina leaves act as a powerful adaptogenic herb which can regulate and stimulate stress response. It is valued as a healing herb in Ayurvedic medicine which provides relief from headache. The powerful and refreshing aromatic properties of mint leaves are used in making soothing balms and essential oils which assists in alleviating headache and nausea.

Ginger is also known to help nausea.

Alleviate Headaches:

Using mint may help in relieving headaches. Balms with a mint base or basic mint oil, when rubbed on the forehead and nose, can give quick relief in case of a headache. This herb is a naturally soothing substance, so it might alleviate inflammation that is often associated with headaches.

You may also use Cloves or Cinnamon to help alleviate head ache.

Combat Stress And Depression:

Mint is a known natural stimulant and its flavour helps to uplift your mood. The rich and distinct flavour and smell of this essential oil can ease stress and refresh the body and mind. The powerful adaptogenic properties of mint leaves can control the action of cortisol and triggers the body’s natural response to beat stress. The essential oil is used extensively in aromatherapy and inhaling mint essential oil can soothe the mind promptly as it secretes serotonin in the brain which helps to combat depression.

Cloves, Cardamom, Bay Leaf, Basil, Asafoetida, Cinnamon are also known to help manage stress.

Skin Care:

Mint is a key ingredient used extensively in a spectrum of skincare and beauty products owing to its potent antibacterial and cooling properties. The richness of menthol and natural antioxidants and flavonoids in pudina leaves are used as an amazing cleanser, toner, astringent and moisturizer in skincare products. 

Cures Acne

The powerful antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties of mint leaves are effective in treating acne and lowers the inflammation and redness associated with acne outburst.

Skin Tone And Complexion

The cooling and refreshing properties of pudina leaves retain the moisture in the skin and tightens the pores. The astringent property of mint leaves tones the skin, softens dry and itchy skin.

Slow Down Ageing

The richness of antioxidants and other vital vitamins in mint leaves shield the skin cells from free radical damage and revitalize the skin thus slowing down the ageing process. Furthermore, it fades away wrinkles and fine lines.

Treats Dark Circles

Pudina leaves extract is heaped with essential vitamins C and A which promotes the blood circulation, lessen dark circle and makes the skin look healthy.

Some of the other commonly used spices that are beneficial to skin are Fenugreek, Curry Leaves, Cinnamon, Chilies, Basil etc.

Uses Of Mint Leaves For Hair Health:

Pudina leaves extract are a great source of carotene and antioxidants that promotes hair growth and prevents hair fall. The potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties of mint leaves aids to ward off dandruff and treat other scalp issues. Furthermore, menthol based hair oil improves the blood circulation to the hair follicles and prevents hair loss and helps hair growth.

Fenugreek, Curry Leaves, Cloves, Cinnamon, Chilies, Bay Leaves are also beneficial for hair and dandruff.

Side Effects:

Like every other spice Mint if used in excess may lead to certain side effects. Excessive use of mint may aggravate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms. High levels of mint extract may have adverse effects on male fertility.

We suggest you consult a medical expert If you are looking to use essential oils derived from mint.

References:

The effects of oral administration of (-)-menthol on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation of airflow in subjects suffering from nasal congestion associated with the common cold – PubMed (nih.gov)

Does inhaling menthol affect nasal patency or cough? – PubMed (nih.gov)

Treatment of the Common Cold – PubMed (nih.gov)

Effects of peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) extracts on experimental allergic rhinitis in rats – PubMed (nih.gov)

Rosmarinic acid affects immunological and inflammatory mediator levels and restores lung pathological features in asthmatic rats – PubMed (nih.gov)

Lamiaceae: An Insight on Their Anti-Allergic Potential and Its Mechanisms of Action (nih.gov)

Effect of menthol in experimentally induced ulcers: pathways of gastroprotection – PubMed (nih.gov)

1746-4358-2-7.pdf (biomedcentral.com)

The effects of oral administration of (-)-menthol on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation of airflow in subjects suffering from nasal congestion associated with the common cold – PubMed (nih.gov)

Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders – Herbal Medicine – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

In vitro influence of spices and spice-active principles on digestive enzymes of rat pancreas and small intestine – PubMed (nih.gov)

Reduction of oral malodor by oxidizing lozenges – PubMed (nih.gov)

Effect of mint aroma on nausea, vomiting and anxiety in pregnant women (nih.gov)

Food-Based Strategies for Depression Management From Iranian Traditional Medicine Resources (nih.gov)

The role of diet in the development and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease: why we feel the burn (nih.gov)

Evaluation of possible toxic effects of spearmint (Mentha spicata) on the reproductive system, fertility and number of offspring in adult male rats (nih.gov)

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About Sanjay Pandita 67 Articles
Sanjay Pandita is an alumni of REC (NIT) Srinagar and has a great interest in travelling and food. He has a keen interest in trying different cuisine and writes about food and health. Here he brings authentic cuisine from Kashmir and other regions. You may also contact him for Web Development, SEO and Writing projects.

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