A cool, refreshing flavor is one of the most pronounced mint benefits, but it certainly is not the only one. Aside from helping freshen your breath and cool your mouth, other mint leaves benefits could include:
- Allergy treatment
- Symptom relief from the common cold
- Help with gas, bloating, and indigestion
- Pain relief
- Hair growth
- Skin and oral health
Mint, also known as Mentha, is a group of roughly 20 plant species that includes peppermint and spearmint. This common herb has a very high antioxidant capacity—potentially higher than many other foods—that can be used in varying forms to help you with a number of pressing health conditions.
Let’s look at how the benefits of mint leaves and mint oil can offer natural treatment for some of the issues you may experience. We’ll also look at how you can get more mint in your diet with a special mint leaf recipe.
Benefits of Mint Leaves
The health benefits of mint leaves are wide-reaching. The healthful oils found in mint leaves are used in everyday products like toothpaste, gum, candy, beauty products, and more. The leaves themselves can offer benefits in either fresh or dried form and can be used in teas, on food, or even as a topical rub.
Mint plants are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help tame allergic symptoms. Some of these valuable nutrients include vitamin C, beta-carotene, perillyl alcohol, and rosmarinic acid (RA). Rosmarinic acid may be the key compound in giving mint its effectiveness for treating the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
One study, in particular, found that people who supplemented with rosmarinic acid for 21 days experienced significant reductions in seasonal allergy symptoms. Patients were assigned a 200 milligram (mg) dose, 50 mg dose, or placebo to take daily for 21 days. During this time, they were asked to record their symptoms while lab tests measured symptom-causing cells, cytokines (markers of inflammation), and nasal fluids.
Throughout the trial, individuals taking the supplements had less evidence of inflammation and nasal fluids, and experienced fewer symptoms than those on the placebo.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, mint may help. However, it should be noted that it may be more helpful to take RA supplements to reach the required doses rather than to include dietary mint.
2. Common Cold
One of the most common benefits of mint leaves is its decongestive abilities. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you breathe a little easier when chewing a piece of spearmint or peppermint gum, sucking a peppermint candy, or drinking peppermint tea.
This outcome is a result of menthol, a natural aromatic decongestant that can break up phlegm and mucus. When you have a cold, menthol makes it easier to get these irritants out of your airways while adding some relief for a sore throat.
Studies have shown the decongesting benefits of menthol can last up to 60 minutes after inhaling. This can be done by using a neti pot or sipping a hot tea (heat also helps loosen phlegm and mucus).
The efficacy of inhaling aromatics depends on the concentration, so higher concentrated mixtures of will have more of an effect. Neti pots, oil diffusers, or strong mint teas may offer relief for the longest periods.
3. Indigestion and Gas
When it comes to treating indigestion, upset stomachs, and gas, mint has long been believed to offer help. And although it might work for you, there is also a chance that it won’t.
Studies on the efficacy of mint to treat a variety stomach trouble are still, at this point, inconclusive. But that doesn’t mean any claimed health benefits of mint leaves or oil in this area should be disregarded.
One review found that peppermint may be mildly effective in treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) when used after IBS treatment. It noted that 65% of patients who were treated with peppermint oil capsules twice daily showed a reduction in symptoms compared to those given a placebo.
If you have IBS or other less severe stomach problems, you can try peppermint oil to see if it renders any benefit. If it does, use accordingly.
4. Exercise Performance
If you’re an athlete looking for an edge, there may be some benefit to peppermint oil.
Research on young male athletes has shown that taking peppermint oil before exercise helps decrease blood lactate to allow for longer performance, increased ventilation in the brain and body, and lower blood pressure.
It’s unclear if these benefits would translate to the general population, however. Therefore, peppermint oil for improved circulation and blood pressure cannot be recommended for everyone. But, if you’re a high-level athlete, it may help you get more out your training and competition.
5. Hair Growth
Mint may also offer some health benefits that extend to aesthetics, particularly for hair growth.
Research has shown that peppermint oil, when applied as a topical ointment, could lengthen hair follicles, and perhaps thereby be an effective agent to grow longer hair at faster rates.
The study mentioned saw noticeable results in as little as four weeks. The benefits of mint for hair growth are likely tied to the reaction of menthol and various skin receptors that allow for easy penetration.
6. Pain Relief
If you’re experiencing pain in your elbow or knee, peppermint oil may offer some relief when applied to the affected area. It may also be effective for preventing pain if applied to an area beforehand—for example, before playing squash or tennis, or sitting at the computer to type—to increase pain threshold. The peppermint oil may slightly numb the area to relieve or delay the onset of pain.
It should be noted that it won’t cure the source of the pain. It will, however, help relieve the symptom.
Mint Leaves Nutrition Facts
The benefits of mint leaves extend far beyond these specific uses and are a very useful tool as part of a healthy diet. They are a nutrient-dense herb that can help keep your body healthy and functioning optimally, which is really the greatest benefit.
When you’re getting adequate amounts of the right nutrients each day, you’re far less likely to experience any number of health problems.
The chart below shows the vitamins and nutrients in a serving of 100 grams (g) of fresh peppermint.
|Nutrient||% Daily Value|
|Total Calories (70)||3%|
*Source: Nutrition and You
Incorporate Mint into Your Diet
The most common way of adding mint to your diet is with teas and cocktails, but it can also be used as a flavorful seasoning or garnish to nearly any dish. Mint leaves recipes are plentiful, and adding them to lamb, soups, and vegetable salads are all tasty options. They are also healthy alternatives to salt- and sugar-based blends.
Mint can also be easily chopped up to add some further distinction to salsa, or scattered onto pineapple slices for a quick and refreshing snack. Here is a mint leaves recipe you can use to incorporate more mint into your diet:
BBQ Lamb with Yogurt Mint Sauce Recipe
(Recipe is for a 3.5 to 4-lb boneless leg of lamb)
- 5 cups plain yogurt
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped roughly
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- ¼ tsp salt
Yogurt Mint Sauce
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- ¼ cup mint, chopped
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
Combine the lamb and marinade ingredients in a “Ziploc” bag. Close and shake until lamb is completely covered. Marinate for at least four hours or overnight if needed.
Preheat BBQ to high.
Place the lamb on the BBQ either in a foil pan or directly onto a well-oiled grill and cook for 20 minutes, turning after 10.
Next, turn the grill down to medium heat and cook until done—about 45 to 50 minutes. It’s done when a meat thermometer shows 140°F on the thickest part.
Remove from BBQ and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Carve and serve with yogurt mint sauce.
Potential mint leaves benefits can range from allergy and common cold relief to the treatment of IBS symptoms. Research shows that the popular bad-breath remedy and garnish contains powerful nutrients and chemical compounds that could boost your health overall.
To get the most of these benefits, the versatile plant leaves can be added to your favorite foods and beverages for a low-sodium and sugar-free flavor enhancement.
10 Amazing Uses for Peppermint Oil
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Osakabe, N., et al., “Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect of rosmarinic acid (RA); inhibition of seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (SAR) and its mechanism,” Biofactors, 2004; 21(1-4): 127-31; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15630183, last accessed October 4, 2017.
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Kligler, B. and Chaudhary, S., “Peppermint Oil,” American Family Physician, April 2007; 75(7):1027-1030; http://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0401/p1027.html, last accessed October 4, 2017.
Ford, A., et al., “Effect of fibre, antispasmodics, and peppermint oil in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis,” The BMJ, 2008; 337: a2313. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a2313, last accessed October 4, 2017.
O’Connor, A., “Remedies: Peppermint Oil for Irritable Bowel,” The New York Times, January 21, 2011; https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/remedies-peppermint-oil-for-irritable-bowel/?_r=0, last accessed October 4, 2017.
Meamarbashi, A., and Rajabi, A., “The effects of peppermint on exercise performance,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2013; 10: 15. DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-15, last accessed October 4, 2017.
Oh, J., et al., “Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs,” Toxicological Research, 2014; 30(4): 297-304. DOI: 10.5487/TR.2014.30.4.297, last accessed October 4, 2017 .