Meet Mint: A Cool & Refreshing Herb
Heat, humidity, ugh. Some people enjoy warmer weather, but you don’t consider yourself one of those people, you’re probably looking for ways to stay cool.
And while cold drinks, air conditioning, and swimming pools help, there might be one that’s growing right under your nose.
Meet Mint – a cool and refreshing herb with a host of benefits!
This fast growing plant has a rich history. And while it might not bring the temperature down in the house, it’s a must-have for a number of reasons.
What makes mint such a “cool” plant to have around?
Read on to find out.
Types of Mint
Mint is actually a genus of several plants within the family of Lamiaceae. These aromatic plants have square stems and opposite-placed leaves (1). There are several varieties, some of which are better suited for cooking while others are used for their aromatic qualities.
You may be familiar with varieties like peppermint and spearmint, but other edible types (2) include:
- Orange mint
- Apple mint (also known as Woolly mint)
- Pineapple mint
- Lavender mint
- Licorice mint
- Ginger mint
- Red Raripila mint
- Basil mint
The idea of sipping on mint tea might seem sophisticated, and for good reason. History shows mint has been used for centuries, and reflected art and culture in countries like China and Egypt (3).
Not only is it a symbol of hospitality, research shows it can help:
- Soothe an upset stomach: If your food is taking longer than usual to digest, it can create a web of problems. Studies show drinking mint tea can help move food through your digestive tract faster (4).
- Boost brain power: No sense in letting hours of study go to waste. Smelling peppermint oil five minutes before a test can greatly improve your memory, according to a study of 144 students (5).
- Reduce bad breath: the toothpaste and chewing gum industries has exploded over the years because of their breath-saving benefits. But a lot of bad breath is caused by bacteria, and gum or toothpaste doesn’t necessarily address this problem. Alternatively, chewing on mint leaves or sipping mint tea can help curb bad breath while killing bacteria (6).
- Improve some cold symptoms: Stuffy noses are no fun, and some believe the menthol found in mint can help with decongestion. While further studies are needed, it does appear to help you breathe out your nose a little easier (7).
- Alleviate pain associated with breastfeeding: Applying a mint-infused topical to sore or cracked nipples was shown to reduce breastfeeding pain or discomfort (8).
- Add a nutritional edge to your diet: Mint contains Vitamin A and antioxidants, which can help fight oxidative stress in your body (9).
When Not to Take Mint
Mint is a wonderful herb, but what are good reasons not to take it?
If you suffer from GERDs, a chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, regular use of peppermint is not advised.
Although rare, taking too much mint could result in negative side effects (10), such as:
- Dry mouth
- Skin irritation
- Allergic reactions
- Stomach pain
Additionally, too much peppermint oil can be toxic and should be used only as directed by your physician or manufacturer.
Ways to Enjoy
Looking for fun ways to enjoy more mint in your life? You can:
- Make iced mint tea
- Infuse your water with mint leaves
- Add to salads, smoothies, and desserts
- Taking supplements
- Diffusing essential oils
- Applying a diluted version to your wrists or temples*
*Pro tip: Topical essential oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil such as almond, coconut, or avocado oil.
Growing and Caring for Mint
One of the best ways to make mint a regular part of your life is to grow some yourself.
How do you take care of mint? Mint is a very hearty plant that thrives in well-drained soils (11). It’s known to be a bit invasive though, so keeping it in pots might be a smart decision.
You can grow mint from seed or buy starts from your local herb nursery. Place seeds or starts in areas of partial shade or full sunlight, after danger of frost. They will grow in full shade, but you may not get as many flavorful leaves.
By summer, you can expect to see a bloom of small purple and white flowers. Bees and other pollinators love them, so place the plants in areas where pollinators get easy access!
Keep the soil lightly moist, but don’t overdo it. If the leaves seem dry, a good dousing should bring it back to life.
Leaves are ready to harvest as soon as you see a few stems that are between 6-8 inches tall. This typically takes 60 days from the time seeds were sown.
Pro tip: try not to harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at any given time. Taking more than that can weaken the plant.
If the dog days of summer got you down, you’re going to be looking for every opportunity to stay cool.
Mint may not have that icy-cold feel, but it’s menthol properties are great for cooling down irritated digestive tracts, sharpening your wits, and fighting off damaging free radicals.
You can add mint leaves to your food, drinks, and take them as supplements. The health benefits are many, and the side effects are few.
That said, speak with your doctor if you have allergies, sensitivities, or are taking medications. Mint might not be the best option for you at this time.
Are you in the mood for mint? Let us know how you like to enjoy this refreshing herb the most!
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author