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Mint - Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

Scientifically known as Mentha, Mint belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It has about 13-24 species and is widenly used for its medicinal benefits.

Mint is a safe and popular ingredient used for its cooling benefits. Mints can include varieties of plants such as peppermint or spearmint.

It is added in many foods, beverages, teas, alcoholic drinks, sauces, salads and desserts. You may inhale, consume or apply it topically.

Constituents of Mint:

Peppermint has a good amount of menthol content and its oil contains menthone and carboxyl esters.

Its volatile oil contains menthol, menthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran, and cineol.

Its non-volatile compounds include anthocyanidins, flavanols, and phenolic acids.

It is well documented that the essential oil and extracts of Mentha species possess antimicrobial, fungicidal, antiviral, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties. (InTechOpen)

Health Benefits of Mint:

  • Rich In Nutrients

Mint leaves need to be consumed in adequate amount to benefit from their nutrients.

Although the unique flavour of mint leaves makes it very difficult for us to consume even ⅓ rd cup of mint leaves, we must find ways to implement it in our diets.

You may try including mint leaves in salads or chutneys that change its taste yet contain its nutritional properties.

Mint leaves contain dietary fibre, Vitamin A, Iron, Manganese and Folate. It has a large amount of Vitamin A content which is exceptionally good for eye health and folate helps regular the heart health.

It is also a pure and potent source of antioxidants that can save you from chronic stress and oxidative stress damage.

  • Improves Digestion

The aromatic mint leaves are great appetizers as they activate the salivary glands that stimulate the digestive enzymes and promotes digestion.

It has some strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can kill the bad gut and stomach bacteria. Mint leaves can calm and soothe the stomach lining.

Mint leaves are said to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, inflammation, diarrhoea, and nausea.

  • Treats IBS

IBS has become a very common issue as we consume large amounts of gluten and lactose. It is a digestive tract disorder that needs immediate attention and treatment.

Medicines to treat IBS may have side-effects, hence, most medical practitioners also advise eating foods that contain menthol.

Menthol is said to have relaxing and cooling effects on the outer and inner linings of the digestive tract.

In a recent research conducted, practitioners found how Peppermint Oil was found to be significantly superior to placebo for global improvement of IBS symptoms and improvement in abdominal pain. (NCBI)

  • Anti-anxiety Treatment

The aromatic peppermint oil is said to have properties of anti-anxiety. Researchers proved how inhaling the menthol from peppermint oil reduced anxiety, depression and a feeling of sadness.

In a study conducted, the researchers found that peppermint administration led to increased ratings of alertness, decreased temporal demand, and decreased frustration over the course of the driving scenario. In addition, peppermint scent reduced anxiety and fatigue.

  • Prevents Bad Breath

Chewing mint-based gum can prevent bad breath but can’t defeat the bacteria causing the bad breath.

However, drinking peppermint tea or chewing peppermint leaves can kill the bad breath causing bacteria and prevent bad smell too.

  • Relieves Cold and Cough Symptoms

Many vapor rubs and inhalers include menthols as their primary ingredient. This is because menthol is considered to be a nasal decongestant.

Peppermint oil is also used in many rubs to relieve chest and nasal congestion. It may make the head feel lighter in sinus patients and relieve head congestions too.

  • Prevents Nipple Fissures

Many breastfeeding mothers may experience from terrible nipple fissures and nipple pain after breastfeeding.

Many studies suggest that menthol essence can improve nipple fissures in the primiparous breastfeeding women.

  • Treats Respiratory Disorders

People suffering from asthma offer taken menthod medicines to treat their breathing disorders. Mint leaves are said to relieve the congestion make breathing easier for asthma patients.

It can be helpful in treating chronic cough or croup.

  • Helps lose weight

Although mint leaves contain a lot of nutrients, they have no calories at all. If you consume a bowl full of salad, add some more mint leaves since they have no calories at all.

Mint leaves may aid in digestion and metabolism at the same time.

When the leaves’ antioxidants detox your body, your cells can flush out the fats faster than ever. Hence, many weight loss supplements consist peppermint or menthol.

  • Antiacne Treatment

Mint contains a high amount of salicylic acid and Vitamin A which controls the secretion of sebum oil and helps to cure acne.

Mint in many skin care products acts like a cleaner, toner, astringent, and moisturizer for your skin. It is also said to prevent itchiness and dryness on your skin.

  • Antidandruff Treatment

Carotene and antioxidants in mint leaves can help reduce the hairfall and promote hair growth.

Its antimicrobial, antibacterial, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties can prevent dandruff, head lice, itchy scalp, and other hair and scalp conditions.

You may add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your normal hair oil (if the mixture is potent) and bid farewell to scalp issues.

  • Treats Morning Sickness

The cool minty aroma and feeling in your digestive organs can certainly reduce nausea and vomiting. Some people may become more sensitive to nausea but the feeling subsides with some minutes.

Having peppermint tea or menthol gums can make you feel better during pregnancy. If your morning sickness is associated with travelling or chemotherapy, having peppermint leaves can be more beneficial.

Researches indicate an increasing percentage of mint administration and support it for relieving nausea and vomiting during pregnancy; in other studies, mint has been used to reduce the morning sickness during pregnancy in 41% of cases.

  • Prevents Menstrual Cramps & Pains

Mint leaves are said to purify the blood and have an anti-spasmodic effect on your muscles. Hence, they’re great to treat menstrual cramps.

It further helps in treating pain in joints during menstruation and pain in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

It calms your body and relaxes your mind at the same time so you stay away from mood swings during menstruation.

Side Effects of Ginger:

Mint leaves, especially peppermint leaves, are considered to be very safe for consumption, marked by the NCBI.

However, over consumption of anything may cause side-effects. Although minor, there are side-effects of consuming menthol in a large quantity. Do not inhale it too much too!

The side-effects of mint include (WebMD):
  • It is not known how safe mint leaves are to consume during pregnancy, so consume only a limited amount of mint leaves.
  • Children above the age of 8 years may consume mint leaves. However, refrain from feeding mint leaves to kids below the age of 8, it may irritate their stomach lining.
  • Excessive mint may cause achlorhydria, a stomach condition in which the stomach doesn’t produce enough hydrochloric acid.
  • Excess intake may cause anal burning or diarrhoea too.

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