Top 5 Health Benefits of Mint
By Madalina Hubert
Mint is an amazing herb that is both flavourful and healthy. There are many types of mint, including delicious-sounding ones like apple mint, chocolate mint, and lemon bergamot mint, but the two main types are spearmint and peppermint.
Spearmint, also known as garden mint, is the most common variety. It is what you usually plant in your garden or find at the supermarket. When we talk about mint, we usually refer to spearmint. This herb is aromatic and refreshing in nature, and it is often used to complement various types of dishes, from meats to salads to desserts, as well as smoothies, teas, and cocktails.
Peppermint has a stronger flavour because it has larger quantities of the compound menthol. It has about 40% menthol compared to less than 1% in spearmint. Peppermint is also used in cooking, although its flavour tends to dominate the dish.
Often, when researchers study the health benefits of mint, some look at spearmint and others at peppermint. Most often, they share similar healing properties.
Many of these benefits have been part of traditional medicines for centuries, and they have been recently validated by scientific studies.
While these clinical studies are often limited in their scope, they nonetheless show the healing potential of these herbs. So, unless you have experienced bad reactions, it may be worth exploring mint in the form of either peppermint or spearmint, since after all, they are both aromatic and delicious.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Mint
Note that these are generally recognized benefits of mint. However, to use them as part of your treatment, it is best to consult a medical practitioner about whether they are appropriate for you, as well as to determine dosage.
1. Mint Benefits the Digestive System
Both peppermint and spearmint are known for helping with digestive problems. They relax the muscles of the digestive tract and soothe inflammation.
Peppermint and spearmint can also reduce IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptoms, morning sickness for pregnant women, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
They may even help with weight loss by stimulating the absorption of nutrients, thus speeding metabolism. You can drink mint tea, chew the leaves directly, or take mint oil. Consult a medical practitioner for the right dosage of mint oil. However, even smelling the leaves in the morning can help give you a refreshing boost and reduce nausea.
2. Improve Dental Health
It’s no wonder spearmint and peppermint are popular ingredients in toothpaste and chewing gum. The antibacterial properties of their leaves refresh the breath by killing harmful bacteria in the mouth. They thus help remove plaque and prevent cavities. You can drink mint tea, chew the leaves, or even add powdered leaves to your toothpaste.
3. Improve Skin Health
Mint can soothe the skin, and reduce inflammation, infections and itchiness. According to the 13 Impressive Benefits of Mint Leaves, “the cooling sensation will relieve you from irritation and the constant urge to scratch, and the anti-inflammatory nature will bring down the swelling.”
This is why mint is often effective in treating insect bites. Peppermint and spearmint are also used to treat acne problems because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Here are steps on how you can prepare your own mint mask:
How to Get Rid of Acne Using Mint Leaves
4. Boost Brain Power
Both spearmint and peppermint have been found to ease depression and feelings of frustration, anxiety, and tiredness. Their refreshing aroma often increases mental alertness.
You can eat the leaves, breathe in their scent, or enjoy the aroma of the essential oils in your home.
Here are 5 specific ways that you can use peppermint oil for headaches:
Peppermint Oil for Migraine and Headache Relief
5. Alleviate Colds and Respiratory Problems
Both spearmint and peppermint are used to treat respiratory problems, including congestion in the throat, bronchi, and lungs. You can drink mint tea and let it go to work in reducing the inflammation in your body.
Of course, we know that mint is also wonderful in recipes. Due to its refreshing nature, you will realize that it goes especially well with summer recipes. In most cases, these recipes refer to spearmint.
Here are 50 mint recipes to choose from.
Madalina Hubert is a Toronto-based writer specializing in art, culture, travel, and culinary explorations.