Mint Health Benefits
Mentha spicata or mint as it is commonly called , has been known for its curative properties for more than 2000 years. There are many types or cultivars of this herb. The most common ones are the peppermint and spearmint. The shrub bears short-stalked, lance-shaped, wrinkled bright green leaves. A cup of mint tea or ‘pudina chai’ as it is called in India, is not only a refreshing drink but also has many health benefits. It acts as a natural breath freshner and keeps bacteria and infections away.
Legend has it that Minthe a Cocythian nymph, beloved of Hades, was metamorphosed into a plant by his wife, Persephone. The plant was called after her, hence Minthe or Mint. Mint grown in Asia, is more strongly flavoured than most European mint, which have a cool after taste. Traditionally, mint was used as a home remedy for ‘manda agni’ which means poor digestion. In Ayurveda, Agni or fire controls digestion and metabolism. It relieves hiccups and flatulence. Mint also has febrifugal and diuretic properties.
Botanical Name – Mentha spicata
Common Name – Mint, spearmint
Indian Name – Pudina
Health Benefits of Mint Leaves
Mint leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a natural carminative, which relieves gastric discomforts. It is considered antispasmodic (relieves muscle strain). It is also good for the liver and helps dissolve kidney and bladder stones. Traditionally, mint was used as a home remedy to treat stomach ache. It was also used to whiten teeth in the Middle ages. This aromatic herb, which has enormous health benefits can be easily grown at home. Mint is widely used in cuisines worldwide, and the mint essential oil is used to flavour breath freshners, mouth rinses and chewing gums. The chief constituent of spearmint oil is Carvone. Fresh mint contains vitamin A, calcium and vitamin C in good amount.
Mint Health Benefits for Digestive Disorders
Mint soothes the digestive tract and cleanses the stomach. Mint tea alleviates gastrointestinal problems like indigestion. It relieves biliousness, thread worms and flatulent colic. It is also said to help morning sickness. It protects the liver and supports the metabolic process. It is a good appetiser. There is some evidence that mentha spicata may be useful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
Mint Health Benefits for Respiratory Illness
Mint dissolves the sputum, nourishes the lungs and increases body resistance against infection. It prevents the harmful effects of antitubercular drugs. It prevents asthma attacks and reduces congestion in the air passage. The phenols in mint have been found to be beneficial in treating respiratory infections. Corn mint helps to stop the respiratory tract pathogen “Chlamydia pneumoniae.” This form of bacteria can cause pneumonia to set in.
Mint Health Benefits for Oral Disorders
Mint has antiseptic qualities which kills the germs causing harmful odour. It strengthens the gums by providing the required nutrients, thus preventing tooth decay, pyorrhoea and premature falling of teeth. It keeps the mouth fresh and improves the sense of taste in the tongue.
The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium and Iron. Iron is necessary for cellular metabolism and synthesis of hemoglobin. Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
Several clinical studies have reported that drinking spearmint tea helps reduce hirsutism in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) by suppressing androgen production and decreasing testosterone levels. Mentha spicata for hirsutism.
In a radiation-induced conditioned taste aversion study, it was found that the gastroprotective and calcium channel antagonizing properties of Mentha spicata can be effectively utilized in preventing radiation-induced behavioral changes. Mentha spicata for radiation induced changes.
Mint Leaves Home Remedies
- Mix the a tsp of the juice of fresh mint leaves with a tsp of lime juice and honey. Taken thrice a day, this is a natural home remedy for indigestion, biliousness and flatulent colic. It also helps eliminates threadworm.
- Mix together, a tsp of fresh mint juice, 2 tsp of pure malt vinegar and 2 tsp of honey in about four ounces of carrot juice. This mixture is good for tuberculosis, asthma and bronchitis. It should be taken 3 times a day.
- Fresh leaves of mint chewed daily acts as a good antiseptic toothpaste.
- Gargling fresh mint decoction with salt cures hoarseness in the throat. It is considered a boon for singers.
- Applying fresh mint juice every night on your face is an effective home remedy to cure pimples and prevents dryness of skin. It is also good for eczema and insect stings.
- Mint oil applied on chest, relaxes the muscle of the bronchial passages and clears congestion.
- Topical treatment with mint oil relieves headaches.
- An infusion of the leaves, in doses of 1-2 tsp thrice a day is very effective for indigestion and tastelessness.
- A mint decoction is helpful in morning sickness. Lime juice, ginger juice and honey can be added to the mint decoction.
- A cup of mint tea is good for heartburn, due to its cooling properties.
- According to botanical.com, a homoeopathic tincture prepared from a flowering mint plant is effective for strangury, gravel, and as a local application in painful haemorrhoids.
How to make mint tea
Mint tea is a herbal tea. It does not contain caffeine, and as such can be had as a refreshing drink anytime. You can make it with milk or without milk.
For ‘mint tea without milk’, the proceedure is as follows. Take a few sprigs of mint washed, 2 cups of water and sugar to taste. Add the mint to the water and boil for 2-3 minutes. Strain and have with sugar.
Alternately, you can steep the mint leaves in hot water for 5 minutes, strain and have with or without sugar.
Pudina Chutney/Mint Chutney
Mint leaves – 2 bunches
Ginger – one small piece
Black gram dal – 3 tsps
Ghee – 2 tsps
Pepper – 1
Rock salt to taste
Separate the leaves. Wash and sauté them in ghee/clarified butter for two minutes. Then saute the black gram, ginger, rock salt, and pepper. Put it in a mixer and grind it into a smooth paste. Serve as chutney