The Surprising Health Benefits of Mint that You Need to Know About
Find out how the humble mint leaf can help improve your health. Our registered dietitians break down the top health benefits of consuming mint.
When thinking of the composition of a well-balanced diet, whole grains, lean meats, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables come to mind. Although they do attribute to optimal body functioning and well-being, herbs should not be disregarded in the health world. Surprisingly, herbs have a wide variety of health benefits. Mint, a common plant herb, provides more than just a fresh flavor in chewing gums, herbal teas, and meal dishes. The surprising health benefits of mint will keep you chomping for more.
5 Health Benefits of Mint
The use of mint for gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as gas and bloating has been around for hundreds of years. Peppermint helps to calm the GI muscles and allows painful digestive gas to pass. The muscle relaxation also allows food to move down the GI tract with more comfort and efficiency. Indigestion symptoms related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should not be treated with peppermint, as its use can exacerbate painful symptoms.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Treatment
Like previously mentioned, mint can help alleviate gas and bloating. To expand further on GI ailments, IBS is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine, also known as the colon. Individuals living with IBS commonly deal with cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and gas along with changing bowel habits. Some may experience constipation while others deal with diarrhea. Others may go back and forth between the two bowel patterns. Studies have shown peppermint capsules have helped to treat IBS symptoms while others experienced a reduction of symptom severity.
Cold and Allergy Relief
Rosmarinic acid is a powerful antioxidant found in mint and other herbal plants. In fact, rosmarinic acid has stronger antioxidant activity than the profound vitamin E. The antioxidant effects protect the cells against damage. Research has shown the use of oral rosmarinic acid is effective in the treatment for allergic asthma. Furthermore, perilla (an herb of the mint family) is rich in rosmarinic acid and is used for anti-allergic activity. The potency of mint can also help to open up the airways and break up phlegm.
Although the oral consumption of mint provides a variety of health benefits, topical skin use is just as admirable. Menthol is a natural product found in peppermint and offers a cooling effect. Peppermint oil or a menthol cream is commonly applied to the skin for headaches, toothaches, joint conditions, and muscle and nerve pains. The soothing effects can also help relieve skin irritation caused by hives and poison ivy.
In this busy and fast-paced society, forgetfulness can certainly and undoubtedly occur although the characteristic can make life seem a little more chaotic. Like topical skin application, the use of mint goes beyond oral consumption. Research suggests the smell, along with the flavor, of peppermint and cinnamon can enhance memory and cognitive functions. Memory test scores improved with each of their use. Alertness has also been discovered to increase.
What is rosmarinic acid? Phytochemicals. Available at: http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/rosmarinic-acid.php
Peppermint. WebMD. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-705-peppermint.aspx?activeingredientid=705&activeingredientname=peppermint