Mint or also known as Mentha is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae. There are around 13 to 18 different species of mint. Mint has sharp, refreshing smell and taste. Its cooling sensation has found its uses in many cosmetic products like: mouthwashes, ointments, toothpaste, bath products. Mint is also used in the kitchen since it gives that cooling taste in our salads, cocktails or smoothies. But beside these everyday uses, it also has many health benefits.
Health Benefits of Mint
Mint is very helpful when it comes to indigestion. That’s because this herb is rich in antioxidants and phytonurients which are very beneficial for your stomach. The fresh smell of mint activates the salivary glands to produce digestive enzymes, which are very important for digestion. They relax the muscles of the stomach reducing the chance of stomach spasms and indigestion. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, the menthol and methyl salicylate in mint will sooth stomach upsets and help carry out normal digestion. Drink a cup of tea after dinner and you’ll solve the problems with the gastrointestinal tract.
- Fights Headache and Relieves Nausea
If you suffer from often headaches or migraines, freshly crushed leaves of mint will help you deal with this problem. The strong and refreshing smell of the herb will also relieve nausea. Have around you some mint based product, which you can rub on your forehead or nose, whenever you’ve got headache or nausea. The herb has naturally soothing effects and will alleviate headaches or nausea immediately.
- Stops Hiccups
You can get rid of hiccups by either chewing on mint leaves or drinking an eight-ounce glass of water spiced with a few springs of mint. In the book of Backyard Medicine, it’s said that mint suppress hiccups thanks to the menthol which sooths muscle spasms (explained by The University of Maryland Medical Center ).
Helps During Breast Feeding
Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience of every woman but very often it can be painful and cause unpleasantness by seriously damaging your breasts and nipples. According to some studies mint can reduce nipple cracks and nipple pain that very often accompany breastfeeding.
- Improves Memory
According to a scientific research, using mint in aromatherapy can boost your memory and increase alertness. If you are often forgetful and you can’t remember where you left your things use mint to help yourself. Crush a few leaves of mint and boil them into a pot of water. Leave the scent to fill your home. Your house will have fresh, clean smell and you’ll be more energetic.
- Sooths Respiratory Disorders and Cough
Thanks to its strong smell, mint opens up nasal passages and airways and allows normal breathing. When mint cools and sooths the throat, nose and other respiratory channels it also relieves irritation which causes chronic coughing. That’s why there are so many mint based balms on the market. Mint based inhalers are more effective than those based on aerosols. They are more eco-friendly as well.
- Promotes Weight Loss
Mint can also be helpful if you are pursuing weight loss. That happens because mint stimulates the digestive enzymes which absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and turn it into energy. So, by adding mint to your diet you’re turning fat into usable energy instead of storing it which will contribute to putting on weight.
- Boosts Immunity
Mint leaves are rich in nutrients such as phosphorous, calcium, vitamins C, D, E and small amounts of vitamin B complex. All these compounds boost the immune system, making you more resistant to infections and inflammation.
- Fights Cancer
A recent research has shown that mint can also prevent some types of cancer including colon, liver, skin and lung cancer. This is due to the phytochemicals, found in mint leaves, which help cut off the blood supply to tumors.
- Sooths Asthma
As we already said, mint is very helpful in clearing the respiratory tract and with its regular use it’s perfect for those who suffer from asthma. Mint is also rich in rosmarinic acid that has powerful antioxidant effects which can block allergy-producing leukotrienes.
- Reduces Fatigue and Improves Your Mood
Just a sniff of mint will be enough to boost your mood and get your brain functioning again, because mint is a natural stimulant. Smelling mint will also help you feel less stressed and anxious. The aroma from the mint will relax your body and improve your mood by releasing a small amount of serotonin in your brain. So, next time you are in a bad mood draw yourself a warm bath and add a few leaves of mint into the water.
- Improves Oral Health
Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, mint is great for your oral health because it stops harmful bacterial growth inside the mouth. It will also help you get rid of bad breath. Rub a mint leaf directly on your teeth and gums, or chew a leaf for a couple of minutes.
How to Grow Mint
It is very easy to grow mint. They grow on interesting root systems called runners because they sprout new leaves and plant along their roots as they grow. Because mint plants are very evasive, plant them in separate pots if you don’t want them to overtake your entire garden.
You can either grow mint by cutting a spring off of an existing plant or from seed. Either way is fine but the first way is easier. To plant your mint, you need a water-retaining container that is 12 to 16 inches wide, potting soil, and mint plant.
Put the pot somewhere it will get enough sunlight. You can place it by the window in your kitchen where you’ll have easy access to it while cooking. Water your plant regularly and keep it away from drying and heating elements.
Keep your mint plant trimmed to 6 inches in height so it will bush rather than sprawl. This way you’ll get more leaves from your plant. Make sure to trim the mint’s flower buds to keep your plant under control.
Never harvest more than 1/3 of the leaves so that it doesn’t run out. If you want to dry them out, tie them up and hang them from the stems or lay them flat on a tray. When the stems and leaves are brittle, collect and store them in an airtight container.
How to Use Mint
Mint can be pretty versatile herb, depending on your taste. You can add mint when cooking fish, lamb, chicken, salads, cooked vegetables, potatoes. Spice your cocktails, tea or even lemonade by adding a few mint leaves in them. The choice is yours.