by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Approximately 70% of the world’s peppermint and spearmint supply is generated in the United States. Mint is more than just an ingredient you need to make mojitos, this fresh-tasting herb has benefits far beyond the bar at 5 o’clock. This magical herb deserves a spot in your garden as you need its refreshing benefits for overall health.
Fun fact about mint: Ancient Greeks and Romans used mint to flavor cordials and fruit compotes, and they also used it for baths and perfumes.
Mint belongs to the Mentha genus. It provides a cooling sensation and enhances various foods and drinks. Apart from consuming it, the health benefits of mint can be derived from skin application, aroma inhalation, or through supplementation.
In this article, we dive deeper into mint and showcase eight health benefits of this refreshing herb.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition plan or adding any supplements to your regimen.
8 Health Benefits of Mint
Discover how mint can significantly impact your overall health with these eight powerful benefits below.
1. Enhances digestive health
Mint’s calming effects on the digestive system help ease pain and prevent intestinal spasms. Due to its antioxidant properties, menthol, and phytonutrients, drinking mint decoction can alleviate gas, bloating, and indigestion. The essential oils in mint leaves possess potent antibacterial and antiseptic properties, soothing stomach spasms while providing relief from acidity and flatulence.
According to a 2019 review, placebo-controlled studies have shown that peppermint oil can effectively heal gastrointestinal conditions such as indigestion, IBS, stomach pain in children, and post-surgery nausea. The review also highlighted mint’s ability to combat harmful microbes, regulate muscle relaxation, and control inflammation.
2. It may boost brain function
Expanding beyond the consumption of mint, even taking in the aroma of essential oils from the plant can provide numerous health benefits, including enhanced brain function.
A study with 144 young adults revealed that smelling mint oil’s aroma for five minutes before testing resulted in noteworthy improvements in memory function. Another study found that smelling mint oil while driving increased their focus and reduced frustration, fatigue, and anxiety levels.
3. Good for common cold symptoms
Numerous over-the-counter cold and flu treatments incorporate menthol, a key component of peppermint oil. It is widely trusted that menthol is an effective nasal decongestant, alleviating congestion and enhancing airflow and breathing.
4. Improves allergies
Mint plants contain something known as rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
A 2019 study on rats showed that rosmarinic acid effectively reduced asthma symptoms compared to a control group without supplementation. Furthermore, a 2019 review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology highlights that the mint plant family offers various plant compounds with anti-allergenic effects.
5. Aids the immune system
Besides its antioxidant activities, consuming 1/4 cup of flavorful spearmint can supply almost half your daily vitamin A needs. This plant-based form of vitamin A plays a vital role in safeguarding your cells from damage caused by free radicals, which, in turn, can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Also, another possible health benefit would be that the compounds found in peppermint leaves have shown the potential to inhibit enzymes that promote tumor growth.
6. Good for pregnancy
Did you know mint can be used to support pregnancy and help make breastfeeding less painful? Breastfeeding mothers often experience painful and cracked nipples, making it painful and difficult to breastfeed.
According to studies, applying mint to the skin can help relieve soreness associated with breastfeeding. In the studies, breastfeeding mothers had put various types of mint on the skin area around the nipple after each time they breastfed.
One study demonstrated that applying mint water post-breastfeeding was more useful than putting on expressed breast milk to avoid areola and nipple cracks, which reported reduced nipple pain.
Another separate study showed that only 3.8% of mothers who applied peppermint gel experienced nipple cracks, compared to 6.9% for those using lanolin and 22.6% for those using a placebo.
7. Good for oral health
Mint’s remarkable ability to mask bad breath makes it an excellent ingredient for toothpaste, mouthwash, and gum. However, for a more effective approach, chewing real mint leaves or sipping mint tea can actually help eliminate the bad-smelling bacteria at its source and neutralize the odor. With strong antibacterial properties, especially in peppermint, mint also relieves mouth ulcers.
8. It helps you to manage stress
Aromatherapy harnesses the power of mint extract to combat stress and revitalize the mind. Inhaling the soothing mint fumes promotes relaxation and mental calmness, effectively reducing stress levels. In addition, it triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, which helps in dealing with depression.
According to studies, peppermint can reduce blood pressure and avert hypertension. To lift your spirits, add mint leaves or mint extract to your bathwater or use mint extract with a vaporizer for a refreshing and mood-enhancing experience.