Mint: Properties and Benefits
Mint is not just an aromatic plant with a fresh and delicious taste. Its constituents in fact give it different therapeutic properties that can bring different health benefits. Let’s see which ones
The mint is a perennial herbaceous plant with properties stimulants belonging to the Labiatae family, genus Mentha. There are many existing varieties, the most common are the mint peppermint, Roman, mint and aquatic.
The mint is a plant that does not have special needs and at the same time resists well the harsh winter temperatures. It is a plant that develops massively, for this reason it can be weed. It often needs to be scaled down.
Depending on the species, the height of this plant can vary from a few centimeters to one meter. Its flowers are an intense pink color while its leaves are dark green. The mint usually grows in low-lying areas, but it can be found up to 700 meters above sea level in areas sheltered from the wind and quite exposed to sunlight.
- Chemical Composition
- Respiratory Tract
- Bad Breath
- Insect Bites
- Cognitive Function
- Benefits to the Skin
- Menstrual Cramps
- Essential Oil
The mint is used to flavor a wide variety of candy that freshen breath. Many people use it to prepare a tea with refreshing and caffeine-free properties. The characteristic scent of the plant and its refreshing properties are known to attribute to menthol.
Its leaves contain essential oils including limonene, menthol and menton. ( 1 ) Peppermint oil is one of the most versatile oils that exist. Its aromas can be inhaled or it can be used directly on the skin and also internally for the treatment of various ailments. It can be used to treat muscle pain, for the symptoms of seasonal allergies, for digestive problems, for the health of hair, skin and much more.
According to a review of American studies, this plant has important antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It also has a strong antioxidant activity and in laboratory studies it has also shown anticancer properties and a chemopreventive potential. ( 2 )
The many uses of this plant have been in documents dating back to 1.000 BC and references are also found in the Egyptian pyramids.
|Chemical composition per 100 g of fresh mint|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||212|
Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine,phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan and valine.
From essential oil is extracted menthol, an alcohol type called chiral, discovered about 2.000 years ago in Japan which is mainly used in the preparation of perfumes and medicines.
The calories provided by 100 grams of fresh leaves correspond to 41.
Mint: Properties and Benefits
It helps the stomach in cases of inflammation and indigestion. For stomach problems we recommend a cup of tea with mint. The aroma of mint stimulates the salivary glands that produce digestive enzymes thus facilitating digestion.
In particular, its intake can help in case of irritable bowel syndrome. There are studies that suggest that people with this syndrome can benefit from taking peppermint oil supplements. A study in IBS patients, the administration of capsules containing peppermint oil for 4 weeks, reduced the symptoms of the disease by 40%. ( 3 )
Some animal studies report that the plant relaxes the digestive system and has beneficial effects on pain. The Mint also acts on smooth muscles of the intestine and may relieve spasms. ( 4, 5 )
A review of studies by the University of California has evaluated the effects of the plant on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). After 2 weeks of treatment with essential oil of peppermint, patients have had a relief very significant compared to placebo. ( 6 )
A review of studies of around 2.000 children found that the plant reduced the duration, frequency and intensity of abdominal pain. ( 7 )
There is also a study carried out on cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The results revealed that the plant reduced the frequency and intensity of nausea and vomiting. ( 8 )
The menthol also has a good action analgesic but it should be used carefully. In excessive doses they can have unpleasant side effects on the nervous system. Menthol in fact increases blood flow and provides a feeling of freshness that can have beneficial effects on headaches. ( 9 )
A German study suggests that the oil of peppermint applied on the forehead has the same effect on headaches as 1.000 mg of acetaminophen. ( 10 )
An Iranian study of people with migraines found that applying essential oil to the temples and forehead reduced pain after 2 hours. ( 11 )
Inhalation of essential oil vapors can help clear the respiratory tract and provide relief to a sore throat. The plant has expectorant properties , helps to clear the respiratory tract, eliminates mucus and reduces congestion. It is one of the best essential oils for the treatment of flu, colds, coughs, sinusitis and asthma.
Studies inform us that the components of this plant have antimicrobial , antiviral and antioxidant properties. This means that taking it can help us fight infections that affect the respiratory tract. ( 12 )
Some research has shown that menthol improves the perception of air flow in the nasal cavity. For this reason, the vapors emanating from an infusion of mint tea could facilitate your breathing. ( 13 )
Tea made from its leaves can improve energy levels and reduce fatigue throughout the day.
An English study found that taking mint oil capsules reduces mental fatigue during cognitive tests. ( 14 )
Another English study has shown that aromatherapy with peppermint ilium reduces daytime sleepiness. ( 15 )
The plant has proved to be a valid alternative to the many energy drinks available on the market, the effects of which, on the other hand, seem not exactly healthy. The aromas of its essential oil, when inhaled, can also improve memory and attention. ( 16 )
It is a real natural stimulant, excellent for those who feel depressed, anxious or simply unloaded. To enjoy its stimulating effects, it can be ingested, inhaled with steam or applied in the form of an ointment.
A very simple method to quickly regain energy is to apply a few drops of mint essential oil on the pillow before going to sleep.
An Iranian study examined the effects of its ingestion on physical performance. After a single dose of essential oil, some young university students were examined from the point of view of physical performance and physiological parameters.
The researchers observed tangible improvements in all the variables tested. Strength, jumping ability, the amount of air exhaled from the lungs and respiratory flow have improved. ( 17 )
To achieve a stimulating effect and improve concentration, dilute a drop or two of essential oil in a glass of water.
The mint contains rosmarinic acid, a plant compound found in rosemary and plants belonging to the same family. ( 18 ) This substance is associated with a reduction in allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes and asthma. ( 19, 20 )
A Japanese study looked at the effects of rosmarinic acid on 29 people with seasonal allergies. After 21 days of treatment, people who took rosmarinic acid had fewer symptoms than people who took a placebo. ( 21 )
In a rat study, rosmarinic acid reduced allergy symptoms such as sneezing and itchy nose. ( 22 )
The properties sedative properties of this essence make Mint a great help for those who suffer from motion sickness or seasickness blocking vomiting in no time.
The mint is very useful also in case of bad breath. 5 gr of fresh leaves in 100 ml of water are used to make purifying gargles. Mint has germicidal properties and therefore inhibits the growth of bacteria inside the mouth.
Simply rub fresh leaves over your teeth and gums to keep them healthy. Alternatively, more simply, fresh mint leaves can be chewed regularly.
Its essential oil has been used for centuries to refresh breath naturally. The reason is to be found in its antibacterial and antifungal properties. ( 23 )
An Indian study published in the European Journal of Dentistry found that peppermint oil has antimicrobial properties against oral bacteria. ( 24 )
In case of insect bites, such as bees, wasps, mosquitoes and hornets, fresh leaves will be able to bring relief. Pleasant sensation of freshness that will relieve itching. Useful its anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce swelling due to puncture.
There are several types of insects that don’t like the smell of this plant. An Indian study found that 0,1 ml of oil extracted from its leaves, protects from mosquitoes for 150 minutes . After this period, its effectiveness ceases and therefore needs to be applied again. ( 25 )
Research on plant repellents for insects has found that peppermint is among the most effective essential oils. ( 26 )
A 2016 study highlighted the beneficial effects of mint on the mind. In the study, it was discovered that people who use mint chewing gum very often have superior memory and mental alertness than those who do not use it. Mint therefore appears to help significantly improve brain activity. ( 27 )
Benefits to the Skin
The essential oil has anti itchy and antiseptic properties while the mint juice is a good skin cleanser. The plant can therefore be used to treat pimples and acne.
A study on the effectiveness of essential oils for the treatment of skin diseases has found that mint oil is effective for the treatment of blackheads, oily skin, chicken pox, dermatitis, for itching, inflammation, scabies and moderate burns. ( 28 )
Its content of carvacrol , menthol and thymol help the body to expel excess gas from the intestine by preventing flatulence. To do this, prepare an infusion with a teaspoon of dried mint in a cup of hot water, to drink two glasses a day.
Its essential oil is one of the ingredients of many shampoos thanks to its soothing properties. If used in the right concentration in lotions to massage the scalp it has beneficial effects on the hair. In fact, it eliminates dandruff and stimulates blood circulation.
In addition, mint provides the right proteins to the hair follicle giving the hair a shiny and healthy appearance. There are several studies that testify that this herb is an effective alternative to products pharmaceuticals for hair growth. ( 29 )
The menthol is also a powerful antiseptic that can help remove pathogens that may lurk in your hair. For this reason, the compound often appears among the ingredients of anti-dandruff shampoos. ( 30 )
Thanks to its relaxing properties towards the muscles, the plant can relieve menstrual cramps. ( 31 )
An Iranian study of 127 women with painful menstrual cycle problems examined the effects of the plant on this condition. Mint extract capsules have proven to be as effective as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug in reducing pain intensity and duration. ( 32 )
Mint Essential Oil
The essential oil, thanks to the presence of menthol, is able to prevent infections. It is an excellent germicide, and is also used in the treatment of the herpes simplex virus, both labial and genital.
Also useful in case of sunburn and insect bites thanks to its antipruritic properties .Remember that essential oils should always be used with great caution and only after listening to a doctor’s opinion.
Important: the mint essential oil, used pure, is toxic and a single teaspoon can kill an adult. It should always be used diluted according to the doses shown with the instructions attached.
Mint intake is not recommended in people with ulcer and gastritis problems as it increases the secretion of gastric juices. The essential oil, used in incorrect doses, can cause similar effects to certain drugs. It can therefore cause states of agitation and convulsions with consequent depressions.
The menthol pure, present in the essential oil, can have highly detrimental effects if not lethal. For this reason it is always recommended to use it under medical supervision. Cardiac arrhythmia is another of the possible side effects of its incorrect use.
Prolonged use of essential oil, due to its effects on the nervous system, can cause insomnia problems.
Although mint leaves, used for therapeutic purposes in the right quantities, are not toxic, children must not consume herbal teas made from this plant. The essential oil can reduce blood pressure in children drastically generating heart depression. It is therefore not suitable for consumption by children, neither locally as an ointment nor aspirated through the nose.
Collection and Conservation
It is harvested during the flowering season in the summer. It can be kept in tightly closed containers in a dark and dry place.
In cosmetics, thanks to its refreshing properties, mint is used for the preparation of shampoos and intimate cleansers.
Small quantities of essential oil can be used to gently massage the temples in case of headache.
Chinese medicine, since ancient times, used mint for the treatment of coughs and colds, as well as tonic and digestive.
In addition to being used in the food industry, in cosmetics and medicine, the plant also has a wide use in the kitchen. It is in fact used as a condiment or as a decorative element.
Very often, in pregnancy and under medical supervision, the use of mint is suggested for the treatment of nausea and migraine.
The leaves have astringent and purifying effects. For this reason they are used in the preparation of beauty masks and to relieve acne symptoms.
The use of the plant also extends in the preparation of cocktails. An example is represented by mojito, where, pounded together with sugar, it goes well with ice and rum.
Of Mint using the leaves that are harvested in June and flowers available in August.
Finally, it seems that its juice is able to heal or soothe burn wounds.
Mint: Properties and Benefits
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