Quantcast

Powerful Antioxidant You Can Eat, Drink or Apply to Your Skin

Food
Peppermint is a good source of manganese, copper and vitamin C. Shutterstock

By Nicole D'Alessandro

If you've ever grown mint then you know it spreads and spreads, and if not contained can easily take over a bed or garden. While my peppermint is contained, it is still… plentiful. My CSA share each week also includes a healthy does of peppermint, spearmint, orange mint, chocolate mint…


In a word, I am awash with mint.

So I've been thinking, other than delicious iced tea, how should I use all this mint? And just how healthy is it?

Turns out this perennial herb has been used since antiquity for medicinal, aromatic and culinary properties. Ancient Egypt, Greek and Rome used mint as an herbal medicine thousands of years ago and dried peppermint leaves, carbon dated back to 1,000 BC, have even been found in Egyptian pyramids.

With 20+ varieties, spearmint and peppermint are the most commonly grown today. Peppermint is a good source of manganese, copper and vitamin C. Mint also contains vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B-6, C, E, and K, beta carotene, folate and riboflavin and the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese.

Fresh mint is a powerful antioxidant. Peppermint, for example, contains perillyl alcohol, which might be helpful in stopping the spread of cancer, and rosmarinic acid, which can help prevent and treat some allergies.

Mint contains the compound menthol, which is cooling when ingested, inhaled or applied to the skin.

Some of the many health benefits offered by eating or drinking mint include:

  • Promotes digestion by activating digestive enzymes and salivary glands
  • Soothes upset stomachs
  • Treats and relieves pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome
  • Helps lower blood pressure and regulate pulse
  • Eliminates bad breath and fights cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth
  • Helps with depression

Mint is also valued for treating a variety of conditions such as infantile colic, tuberculosis, shingles pain, breastfeeding pain and radiation damage.

There are the potential risks to consider in using mint:

  • Do not use mint in an attempt to soothe digestive issues if your symptoms are related to a gastroesophageal reflux disease, as it could worsen the condition.
  • Use caution with mint products if you have or have had gallstones.
  • Peppermint oil, if taken in large doses, can be toxic. Pure menthol should not be taken internally.
  • Do not apply mint oil to the face of an infant or small child, as it may lead to spasms inhibiting breathing.
  • Speak with your doctor to determine whether your medications could interact with mint or mint oil.

If you do not enjoy the potent flavor of mint, consider the many other uses for this easy to grow plant:

  • Keeps your garden buzzing with beneficial insects, including honeybees
  • Repels bugs like ants and flies
  • Essential oil can be a room freshener and added to homemade cleaning products
  • Keeps pets flea-free
  • Helps with hiccups
  • Peppermint steam helps fight infection and eases sinus congestion
  • Essential oil applied to the temples relieves headaches
  • Soothes aching feet and tired muscles
  • Eases sunburn pain and discomfort from insect bites
  • When inhaled, reduces nausea, including chemotherapy-induced nausea, and improves memory

So it seems to me that mint is the refreshing, plentiful gift that keeps on giving. If you have the same “problem" in your garden, here are some recipes to enjoy:

Cucumber, mint and apple coolers

Sugar snap peas with mint

Cucumber raita

Lemon-mint and tabbouleh salad

Mint julep pineapple

Roasted beets with cumin, lime and mint

What's your favorite way to use mint?

You Might Also Like

What to Avoid in Toothpaste, and How to Make Your Own

10 Healing Herbs and Spices for Optimum Health

Foods That Help or Hinder Sleep

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Gretchen Goldman

The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.

Read More Show Less
An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The unprecedented drought that has caused a water crisis in Zimbabwe has now claimed the life of at least 55 elephants since September, according to a wildlife spokesman, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Maria Dornelas.

By John C. Cannon

Life is reshuffling itself at an unsettling clip across Earth's surface and in its oceans, a new study has found.

Read More Show Less
An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less
Workers attend to a rooftop solar panel project on May 14, 2017 in Wuhan, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

By Simon Evans

Renewable sources of electricity are set for rapid growth over the next five years, which could see them match the output of the world's coal-fired power stations for the first time ever.

Read More Show Less