Mint is a perennial herb grown for its leaves. It is native to Europe and the Middle East, and has been used for medicinal purposes ever since the Middle Ages. This aromatic herb is known for its high content of many essential nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Mint leaves are wonderful when infused in hot water and made into refreshing tea, or chopped and added to different salads. The market is also full of products like chewing gum, toothpaste, breath fresheners, and candy that have mint as their base.
Most people are familiar with the refreshing benefits of mint, but are unaware of the fact that it can improve the health in many ways. For that reason, our focus today will be on the tremendous health benefits of this amazing herb.
Health Benefits of Mint
Mint soothes the stomach and increases the production of saliva and digestive enzymes in the mouth. This helps to start the breakdown of foods before they get to the intestines, making a more comfortable digestion.
Regular use of both peppermint and caraway oil together can ease the symptoms of an upset stomach.
Also, peppermint can help alleviate gas and other causes of abdominal pain due to its relaxing effects on the muscles of the intestines. Some studies conducted in recent years even suggest that peppermint can be more effective than Buscopan for treating colonic spasms.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Numerous studies have found that using peppermint (both topically and internally) can reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Joseph Mercola quotes several relevant scientific sources which are saying that Peppermint oil capsules are “the drug of first choice” for everyone who is suffering from IBS.
A good example is a study conducted at the Yokohama City University in Japan, which has shown that IBS patients who were treated with peppermint oil experienced 50 percent decrease in their symptoms.
- Pain Relief
Peppermint oil can effectively reduce pain when applied to sore muscles. Put a few drops of peppermint oil along with coconut oil in the palm of your hand and rub it into painful areas for pain relief.
- Antimicrobial and Antiviral
Many studies have also found that the strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties of peppermint oil can help the body overcome and/or prevent such infections.
You may find it hard to believe, but herbs like peppermint have much higher concentrations of antioxidants when compared to any common fruit or veggie.
A diet high in antioxidants prevents the overabundance of free radicals in the body, which reduces the risk of serious diseases like cancer.
- Infantile Colic
Infantile colic is a common condition for which the scientists are yet to find the treatment. However, some studies suggest that mint can control the severity of this condition and provide relief to afflicted infants. You must always consult with a health professional before using essential oils on babies.
Mint leaves are a good source of powerful phytochemicals that are being studied for their anti-tumor properties. According to some studies, these phytochemicals can cut off blood supply to cancerous tumors.
Some preliminary research suggests that mint tea may have anti-allergenic properties. This means that mint could help reduce symptoms in allergy sufferers.
- Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea
Peppermint oil can be used for treating nausea in people who have recently undergone chemotherapy. This amazing oil is ideal for those who want to avoid pharmaceuticals or need a cheaper (but highly effective) alternative to other therapies.
- Nipple Pain/Damage from Breastfeeding
A recent study conducted at University of Medical Sciences in Iran has found that peppermint water has the ability to prevent nipple pain and damage in mothers who are currently breastfeeding.
For the purpose of the study, 196 primiparous breastfeeding women were randomized to receive either peppermint water or EBM. The results have shown that women who were randomized to receive peppermint water were less likely to experience nipple and areola cracks (9%) when compared to women that were using EBM. Women who used the peppermint water on a daily basis were less likely to have a cracked nipple than women who did not use peppermint water. Nipple pain in the peppermint water group was lower than the expressed breast milk group.
The researchers concluded that peppermint water can prevent both nipple damage and pain, but added that further studies are needed to fully assess the usefulness of peppermint water in conjunction with correct breastfeeding techniques.
How to Enjoy Mint
You can use fresh mint leaves to make a tea, or add them to juices, smoothies, soups, and salads. The powdered form of mint is another good way to enjoy the health benefits of this amazing herb.
When it comes to peppermint oil, you can apply it topically to reduce pain, or treat a skin affected by insect bites, rashes, or other reactions.