The use of fresh herbs when cooking is somewhat of a lost practice in certain areas around the country. Herbs like mint add fresh aromatic flavor to your dishes, and can help reduce sodium intake as a result. Mint is a common name for over a dozen plant species, some of the most popular of which include peppermint and spearmint. Providing a cooling sensation, mint is commonly added to foods, beverages, sauces, salads, and even desserts.
What Is Mint?
While mint is a common herb that has been used for its medicinal properties, many cultures have used it as a natural breath freshener for hundreds of years. This has led to the creation of many products available in minty flavors, including toothpaste, gum, candy, shaving gel, body wash, inhalers, balms, and oils. While people can reap the benefits of mint by consuming it, new studies have found that inhaling the aroma and applying it topically on the skin is also beneficial.
Benefits Of Mint
Let’s take an in depth look at six of mint’s science-backed health benefits.
Indigestion And Gas
Mint’s aroma works to activate the salivary glands in the mouth, in addition to the glands that secrete digestive enzymes to promote healthy digestion. Many studies have found that mint helps to soothe stomach pain, inflammation, or nausea, and it is a recommended remedy for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For people who experience gas or bloating, sipping mint tea can relieve the discomfort and decrease gas.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Let’s stay under the same digestive umbrella and tell you that peppermint oil is a useful home remedy for people with IBS. Containing the compound known as menthol, peppermint oil relaxes the muscles in the digestive track to alleviate IBS symptoms. A review of nine studies found that IBS patients who took peppermint oil capsules experienced reduced symptoms and pain, when compared to IBS patients who took placebo pills.
When it comes to topical application on the skin, mint oil works to reduce itchiness and can remedy infections. The antipruritic and antiseptic properties help to cleanse the skin, reducing symptoms of acne and pimples on occasion. Mint oil can also be applied to bug bites from gnats, mosquitos, bees, and wasps because the antipruritic properties provide a cooling sensation that reduces irritation. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory properties help to bring down the swelling.
The menthol in mint has proven to be effective at relieving nasal congestion, according to research at University of Wales, UK. This research has also indicated that mint can help clear up congestion in the lungs, throat, and bronchi, which provides relief from respiratory disorders like asthma or the common cold. The cooling properties help to soothe the airways and reduce coughing. If you have peppermint essential oil, add it to a warm bath when you’re sick to promote easier breathing.
It is common for breastfeeding mothers to experience sore or cracked nipples, which can lead to painful breastfeeding. Research has shown that applying peppermint essential oil, along with a carrier oil like coconut oil, on the nipple area can promote healing and reduce the pain. One study found that applying mint tea to the nipple post breastfeeding was effective at reducing areola or nipple cracks.
Note: There is currently no way to predict whether or not peppermint oil affects a woman’s milk supply. Because of this, take caution with peppermint oil, peppermint tea, and peppermint-flavored confections if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Mint is not consumed in large quantities because it has such an assertive flavor. It is uncommon to use more than one-third cup of mint in a single recipe, with the exception of certain salad recipes. A one-third cup serving of mint contains the recommended daily intake (RDI) of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A – 12%
- Calories – 6
- Manganese – 8%
- Fiber – 1 gram
- Iron – 9%
- Folate – 4%