Long before it was used to flavor our gum and toothpaste, mint was used for its medicinal properties. You’ve probably heard of peppermint and spearmint, but there are actually over 12 different species and hundreds of variety of mint. Mint is used in everything from cooking, to beauty products, to medicine. No matter how you use it, mint is sure to bring you a ton of benefits!
- Improves digestion: Mint is thought to help increase your body’s production of bile, which in turn speeds up digestion, which can help alleviate bloating and abdominal discomfort. Studies in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome found that participants who took peppermint oil capsules twice a day for 4 weeks had a 50% decrease in symptoms. It has also been shown to decrease nausea and motion sickness.
- Prevents respiratory disorders: The cooling and soothing nature of mint make it great for treating breathing disorders. If you have increased congestion from a cold, mint can help clear out your sinuses and also soothes irritation from chronic coughing. Mint has been shown to benefit people suffering from asthma and can help stop the release of certain chemicals associated with seasonal allergies.
- Improves your skin: The juice obtained from the mint leaf is an excellent antiseptic, making it ideal for skin cleansers. Mint is soothing on the skin and helps prevent infections, making it ideal to help treat acne. It is great for stopping itch in it’s tracks, making it great for bug bites!
- Alleviates pain: Mint has been shown to help increase the pain threshold when applied topically to our skin and certain varieties have been shown to mimic the affects of Aspirin when drank as a tea.
- Tons of nutritional benefits: Even though mint is not typically consumed in large amounts, only ½ ounce of it contains only 6 calories and 1 gram of fiber. It also contains Vitamin A, Iron, Manganese, and Folate that are all important nutrients to include in our diets.
- Freshens breath: Last but definitely not least, mint may be most well known for its ability to freshen our breath. We often reach for a piece of gum or a mint when our mouth isn’t feeling that fresh, but choosing mint tea or chewing on whole mint leaves may be a better choice. While gum and mints mask bad breath, mint tea and leaves can actually help kill the bacteria in your mouth resulting in a longer lasting effect.
As you can see, mint has MANY benefits and it is super easy to add into your diet, but it also does come with a few risks. Mint has been shown to increase symptoms of heartburn and in large doses can be toxic. Always check with your health care provider before starting a new medication or supplement.