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Health Benefits of Mint Leaves and Other Mint Family Plants

I believe in the therapeutic properties of herbs and essential oils. I love that I can share my experiences and recipes.

Mint Tea

the-power-of-mint

Mint Is A First Aid Herb Hero

Mint is probably one of the most common herbs in the world and is widely used in toothpastes, gums and culinary recipes. Sometimes when something is this prevalent, we lose sight of its origins and of other uses that could be of benefit to us. When used in its purest form mint is a first aid must have for every household.

There are hundreds of different varieties of mint. Some include: peppermint, spearmint, orange bergamot mint (has a lovely citrus – mint flavor), apple mint (has an apple – mint fragrance). To my surprise, I learned that biologically, the mint family (Lamiaceae) includes over 7000 plant varieties. The ones we are most familiar with belong to the mentha genus and contain menthol. However, herbs such as lemon balm and sage also belong to the Lamiacea family but they don’t have the same genus. Lemon balm for instance belongs to the Melissa genus. It has a citrus taste with subtle mint undertones. Some mint plants are healing, some aid our digestion and others are simply pretty ground cover in our gardens.

Health Benefits Linked To The Lamiaceae (Mint) Family

  • Mint plants have been used to treat a variety of ailments throughout the ages. Treatments for anything from indigestion, colic, gingivitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches have been documented.

    • Peppermint can help to relieve gas and bloating.
    • Mint is used as an antiviral and antibacterial remedy. Therefore, it is an important ingredient in toothpastes. The antibacterial properties can help to combat dental plaque.
    • Drinking a cup of mint tea, where fresh leaves have been steeped in hot (not boiling) water, will not only help your digestion but will also freshen your breath.
    • The menthol in mint (especially peppermint) lines the stomach and stimulates bile production which is important for digestion.
    • Studies show that mint tea helps to treat IBS because mint relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract. Mint has anti-inflammatory properties which also helps with IBS symptoms.
    • If you are not feeling too good and have nasal congestion, you could inhale the vapors of your mint tea before drinking it. The menthol vapors are excellent for temporary relief of nasal and chest congestion.
    • Peppermint, spearmint, fennel and many of the mint plants in the Lamiaceae family contains rosmarinic acid. Rosmarinic acid has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties and may help to relieve allergy symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
    • Drinking that lovely aromatic cup will also help to supplement your body with Vitamin A and vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, and iron. Vitamin A in particular, is essential for healthy eyes and night vision.
    • Peppermint is a muscle relaxant and pain reliever which is why it is beneficial when treating headache, stomach cramps (even menstrual cramps), and muscle aches.
    • Mint tea is uplifting but because it has muscle relaxant properties, it can help you fall asleep.

How To Incorporate Mint Into Your Day

  • Pour hot water over fresh or dried mint leaves to make a tea. You could sweeten it with honey or enjoy it as an iced tea.
  • Mix fresh chopped up mint with butter. Then melt the butter over a potato or steamed vegetables. This is just as delicious on meat.
  • Use fresh mint leaves instead of parsley to garnish a salad for extra aroma and flavor.
  • Chop some fresh mint into virgin olive oil to make a wonderful salad dressing. Allow the mint to infuse into the oil for a week or so. Keep it in a cool, dark place during the infusion period.
  • Mint varieties will mix really nicely with other herbs such as hyssop, echinacea or thyme to make fragrant therapeutic teas. See further into this article for more blending options.
  • Pour some hot, not boiling, water over your fresh mint leaves. Allow the tea to infuse for 3 - 5 minutes. Strain the tea to remove the leaves. Then steam your vegetables with the minty water.
Iced water with strawberries and fresh mint leaves

Iced water with strawberries and fresh mint leaves

Mint Tea

How To Brew Mint Tea

  • Keep in mind that mint leaves release their flavors quickly.

    Add one tablespoon of dried whole mint leaves or;

    Add one teaspoon of dried crushed mint leaves to a cup.

    Add hot water and allow the leaves to steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

    If you want a more intense mint flavor, try crushing fresh mint leaves in your teacup prior to adding the water.

the-power-of-mint

Delicious Tea and Herb Blends

Consider adding stevia, honey, or agave to any of the teas below to add a little sweetness. You can also experiment with fruit. Think about adding freshly sliced apple, berries, orange rind or a slice of lemon. Frozen fruit works well too.

The blends listed below are not single-serve recipes. Depending on your taste, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the blend to a cup. Add hot water and steep the tea from 3 to 5 minutes.

Any of the combinations below are delicious as iced teas.

Most of the listed recipes use mint leaves but you could use peppermint or spearmint too.


Chocolate Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of loose-leaf rooibos tea (Most floral teas will work, consider white jasmine or hibiscus flowers as alternatives).
  • ½ cup of dried mint leaves
  • ½ cup of cacao nibs

Fennel Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of dried mint leaves
  • ¼ cup of fennel seeds

Floral Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of dried mint leaves
  • 1 cup of dried rosehips
  • 1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers (Consider rooibos, white jasmine, or lavender as alternatives).

Lavender Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of dried mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons of dried lavender blossoms

Lemon Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of dried mint leaves
  • 1 cup of dried lemon balm
  • 1 cup of dried lemongrass
  • You could add a slice of lemon to the tea as it is brewing for a stronger citrus flavor.

Moroccan Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of green tea leaves
  • 2/3 cup dried peppermint leaves (Mint or spearmint will work too).

Nettle Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of dried mint leaves
  • 1 cup of dried nettle leaves (You could switch nettle leaves out for chamomile flowers).

Sage Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of dried mint leaves
  • 1 cup of dried sage leaves (You could switch sage out for thyme).

Yerba Mint Tea

  • 1 cup of roasted yerba mate (Yerba mate has less caffeine content than coffee but more than black tea).
  • ½ cup dried mint leaves

Growing Your Own Mint

Mint plants are runners, and they can be invasive. So if you are growing it in your garden, keep it trimmed. It can easily overpower a garden. You may have to pull out sections that ‘run away’. Mint is an extremely durable plant that can withstand harsh weather and will thrive in slightly moist soil.

Many mint varieties like a lot of sun and water. If the plant is deprived of enough sunlight it will dilute the flavor and fragrance of the leaf.

I think they are a lot less work if they are potted either indoors or outdoors. That way they won't invade other plants and it is easier to keep them under control.

If you really want to grow mint in your garden, you could plant it in a pot and then bury the pot. Just remember that runner roots can be cheeky and break through the pot, escaping into the adjacent soil. You still have to trim the leaves back occasionally.

Mint has always been one of my most favorite herbs. I love the taste, it is easy to grow and it is fragrant. A triple thread in my book.

Mint Plants

the-power-of-mint
the-power-of-mint

Some Interesting Facts About The MInt Family

  • Mint became a commercial crop in Western Massachusetts in 1790 but its history dates back to Egypt in 1550 BC.
  • Peppermint (a mint variety) is the key ingredient in the manufacture of menthol.
  • Mint grows in the wild in Central and Southern Europe.
  • If you have an ant infestation, sprinkle some peppermint essential oil around the area to repel them. It will work for mice too. Keep your pets away from the area to prevent them from licking up the peppermint oil.
  • Mint is not only used in toothpaste to flavor it but also to help protect your gums from gingivitis.
  • Peppermint essential oil is a great fly repellent. Add around 20 drops to water in an 8 oz spray bottle. Spritz the air around the affected area but please remove small children and pets from the room first.
  • Mint tea is a common drink in Morocco and Tunisia and the best business deals are sealed over a cup of steaming mint tea.
  • Morocco is the largest producer of mint in the world.
  • The peppermint plant is an herb that is a cross-section of watermint and spearmint.
the-power-of-mint

Caution

  • Always check with your physician before drinking or eating any herbs. Especially if you have allergies or are pregnant.
  • Peppermint essential oil or tea may cause spasms in a child under the age of 5. Do not apply the oil to an infant or small child, especially near the face.
  • Peppermint oils, teas, or leaves are not safe for pets.
  • Peppermint could make heartburn worse and should be avoided by anyone with gastroesophageal reflux disease or Hiatal hernias.

References:

https://simplelooseleaf.com/blog/herbal-tea/mint-tea-types/#:~:text=Mint%20goes%20well%20with%20both,green%20tea%20to%20the%20blend.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/great-diy-mint-tea-blends-765107

https://coffeeandteacorner.com/what-goes-with-mint-tea/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mint-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/peppermint-tea#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/8-benefits-of-peppermint-tea-from-inducing-sleep-to-aiding-weight-loss-and-more-1748790

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325242#summary

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275944#nutrition

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259186/#:~:text=Rosmarinic%20acid%20(rosA)%20is%20a,of%20potential%20benefit%20for%20OA.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Celeste Wilson

Comments

poetryman6969 on March 10, 2015:

Sounds like I need to put more mint in my diet.

alex on February 03, 2014:

Di u get mint juice to buy anywhere

Celeste Wilson (author) on April 25, 2013:

Thanks Rajan, I love sweetened mint tea. It is awesome when something that delicious is also good for you.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 24, 2013:

Interesting and useful and I agree, mint is a very beneficial herb to health.

Voted up.

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