13 Impressive Benefits of Mint Leaves

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Wafa Reda (MS, RDN)

The amazing health benefits of mint include improved digestion, weight loss, relief from nausea, depression, fatigue, and headache. It is also helpful in the treatment of asthma, memory loss, and skin problems.

What is Mint?

Mint (Mentha) is a popular herb and a mouth freshener that is used for its medicinal properties. It has more than two dozen species and hundreds of varieties which also include peppermint and spearmint. [1]

It can be used in many culinary preparations in its fresh or dried form. Many personal care products contain mint as an ingredient. Things such as toothpaste, shaving gels, chewing gums, breath fresheners, candies, teas, balms, oils, and inhalers with a mint flavor are the most used. [2]

Due to its fresh taste, the mint extract is often paired with cakes, cookies, nutrition supplements, sugar-free products, and energy bars. Mint oil is used in ice-creams and chocolates. Mint syrup is used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Apart from these different types of mint are used to prepare various oils such as peppermint oil and spearmint essential oil that provide many uses and benefits.

Health Benefits of Mint Leaves

Most of us are familiar with the refreshing application of mint, but it has far more to offer than that. The health benefits include the following:

Relieve Symptoms of Cold

Mint is often assumed to be a good relaxant and it helps relieve congestion. But multiple clinical trials show that menthol has no effect on decongestion. That being said, menthol does help reduce nasal obstruction. This means that it may help you with cold and flu symptoms. [3] [4]

A bunch of mint leaves placed on the right hand side of the table

A fresh and aromatic bunch of mint leaves Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Alleviate Allergies & Hay Fever

Seasonal allergies and hay fever (also known as rhinitis) affect millions of people around the world. Extracts of mint leaves have been shown to inhibit the release of certain chemicals, which aggravate severe nasal symptoms associated with hay fever and seasonal allergies. [5]

Regulate Digestion

Mint is a great appetizer or a palate cleanser. The aroma of the herb helps activate the salivary glands in your mouth as well as the glands which secrete the digestive enzymes, thereby facilitating digestion. It also soothes the stomach in case of indigestion or inflammation.

It is a potent remedy for relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A 2013 study showed that the menthol in mint could relieve diarrhea. [6]

Aid in Breastfeeding

A research study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal in 2007 has shown that mint oil helps reduce the nipple cracks and pain that often accompany breastfeeding. [7]

Give Relief from Respiratory Disorders

Research led by Prof. Ron Eccles at the University of Wales, UK, states that menthol, present in mint, helps in relieving nasal congestion. It is also very effective in clearing up congestion of the throat, bronchi, and lungs, which gives relief from respiratory disorders that often result from asthma and common colds. [8]

As it cools and soothes the throat, nose, and other respiratory channels, it also relieves the irritation which causes chronic coughing. This is the main reason why so many balms are based on mint. Unlike the inhalers that are based on aerosols, those with mint as the fundamental component tend to be more effective and eco-friendly as well.

Skin Care

While mint oil is a good antiseptic and antipruritic material, the juice obtained from the leaves is an excellent skin cleanser. It soothes the skin and helps reduce infections and itchiness. In addition to being a good way to reduce pimples, it can even relieve some of the symptoms of acne.

Its antipruritic properties can be used for treating bug and insect bites like those of mosquitoes, honey bees, hornets, wasps, and gnats. [9]

The cooling sensation will relieve you from irritation and the constant urge to scratch, and the anti-inflammatory nature will bring down the swelling. Its oil is often a basic component of bug repellents like citronella candles because the strong aroma is unappealing to most insects.

Weight Loss

Mint leaves help in your efforts to lose weight healthily. A study published in 2003 suggests that it helps stimulate the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and turn it into usable energy. If you switch from drinking soda or sweetened beverage to drinking sugar-free mint tea, it may help you lose weight due to reduced calorie intake. A 12 oz mint tea that has no added sugar has zero calories while a 12 oz soda has 150 calories. [10]

You can add mint to this amazing juice cleanse diet.

Boost Memory

A study was conducted by Dr. A. P. Allen and Dr. A. P. Smith from Cardiff University, on the effect of chewing gum on stress, alertness, and cognition. It found that people who frequently used chewing gum, in which the major active ingredient is mint, had higher levels of memory retention and mental alertness than those who did not. [11]

The stimulant qualities of this herb show that popping that stick of gum or chewing on raw mint leaves can help improve cognition.

Oral Care

According to research, mint has germicidal qualities and it quickly freshens breath. It also adds to oral health by inhibiting harmful bacterial growth inside the mouth and by cleaning the tongue and teeth. This is why the herb would often be rubbed directly on the teeth and gums to refresh the mouth and eliminate dangerous forms of growth. [12]

In modern times, for the same reason, menthol is one of the most common elements in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and other dental hygiene products. Of course, the easiest way to get these results is to simply chew on the leaves.

Health benefits of mint infographic

Due to its fresh taste, the mint extract is often paired with cakes, cookies, nutrition supplements, sugar-free products, and energy bars.

Relieve Nausea

Mint leaves, especially freshly crushed ones, help you deal with nausea and headache. The strong and refreshing aroma is a quick and effective remedy for nausea. Use mint oil or any other product having a mint flavor and your stomach issues will be alleviated. Many people keep menthol oil or mint-flavored products on hand to avoid nausea. [13]

Alleviate Headaches

An issue released by the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics mentions that using mint helps in relieving headaches. Balms with a mint base or basic mint oil, when rubbed on the forehead and nose, give quick relief in case of a headache. This herb is a naturally soothing substance, so it can alleviate inflammation that is often associated with headaches and migraines. [14]

Relieve Stress

Mint is a natural stimulant and the smell alone can be enough to uplift your mood. A research done in 2014 states that including it in your diet is a great option if you are feeling sluggish, anxious, depressed, or simply exhausted, the herbal leaves and its essential oil can help. [15]

It can be ingested, applied topically in a salve form, or inhaled as a vapor, and all of these techniques can give you a much-needed boost. A popular way to get good results in an easy manner is to put a few drops of mint essential oil or menthol oil on your pillow at night and let it work on your body and mind while you sleep.

You can even experiment by using a eucalyptus mint body wash as it is known to cool and invigorate the body.

Other Benefits

Aside from the benefits mentioned above, mint is also helpful in the following ways.

  • Drinks and foods containing this herb provide a refreshing burst in summer.
  • One peculiar property of mint that seems quite contrary to its traditional cooling and soothing effects is that it induces sweating if consumed during fever, thereby breaking the fever and speeding the rate of recovery.
  • Mint juice can also be applied to heal and soothe burns.
  • It is also beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism.

Adding Mint to Your Diet

Mint leaves make for a perfect garnish when you are preparing cocktails, rice dishes, pot rice, and salads. You can add fresh leaves to your smoothies, juices, and drinking water as well. Here are a few recipes you can try with mint:

Side Effects

Mint, like many other herbs, has a couple of risks.

A study published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease suggests that mint may aggravate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms. Research also shows that using extracts of spearmint, which is a type of mint, in excess may affect male fertility. Menthol is considered strong and toxic if taken in a high amount, so do consult with your doctor before you include it in your regular diet. [16] [17]

If you are looking to use essential oils derived from mint, we suggest you consult with a medical expert.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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