Mint: it smells great, it grows fast, it tastes good and it has amazing benefits. Not to mention, growing it in your home will help keep pesky bugs like ants and flies outside. The health benefits of mint leaves are unbelievable!
Mint is perfect for helping with indigestion. Mint leaves are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that are really good for your stomach. The smell of mint alone helps activate the salivary glands that produce digestive enzymes, enzymes that are crucial to digestion. They relax stomach muscles which reduces the chance of stomach spasms and indigestion.
2. Relieves headaches
The refreshing aroma of mint is also a quick and effective remedy for nausea and headaches. It is a naturally soothing substance that can alleviate headaches simply by rubbing mint oil on your forehead and nose.
The strong smell from mint can also clear your nose, throat and lungs when you are congested. If you find you cough a lot, the soothing smell is great for clearing out throat, nose and other respiratory channels. Mint also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve inflammation along the respiratory tract. Drinking mint tea is perfect for helping you clear your congestion.
A whiff of mint might be all you need to get your brain functioning again because it is a natural stimulant. Smelling mint also helps you feel less stressed and depressed because it relaxes your body and calms your mind. The aroma from mint releases a small amount of serotonin in your brain. So, the next time your brain or mood needs a boost, draw a warm bath and sprinkle fresh mint leaves into the water.
5. Skin care
Not only can mint help with medical issues, it’s also great for clearing up pimples, soothing itchy skin and repelling bugs. You can use it to treat bug bites and stings from mosquitoes, gnats, hornets, wasps and bees. The strong scent also helps keep other bugs away from you.
Mint leaves are full of antioxidants which help give your skin a natural glow. The anti-inflammatroy and anti-bacterial properties found in mint leaves also helps clear up acne.
6. Weight loss
By adding mint to your diet you are helping your body lose weight faster because, as we know, mint is a stimulant that helps stimulate digestive enzymes. These digestive enzymes absorb nutrients from food, but also consume fat and turn it into usable energy, rather than storing fat for later.
Since mint helps clear the respiratory tract, regular use is perfect for anyone who suffers from asthma. Mint also contains rosmarinic acid that acts as a powerful antioxidant, which helps to block allergy-producing leukotrienes.
8. Oral care
Because mint has a ton of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is great for your oral health because it stops harmful bacterial growth inside the mouth. It also makes your breath minty fresh! All you have to do is rub a mint leaf directly on your teeth and gums, or chew on the leaves for a few minutes.
Recent research shows that mint can also prevent certain kinds of cancers because a phytochemical that can be found in mint leaves helps to cut off the blood supply to tumors.
How to grow it
Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. They grow on an interesting root systems called runners because they sprout new leaves and plants along their roots as they grow. Although mint plants can be pretty evasive, keeping them in a container away from other plants will help tame them.
To grow mint, all you need is a water-retaining container that is 12 to 16 inches wide, potting soil and, of course, the mint plant. You can grow mint by cutting a sprig off of an existing plant, or you can buy either a seedling or plant from the nursery. Either way is fine, but growing mint from seed is very difficult.
Place the potted mint plant somewhere it will get ample sunlight, preferably in the kitchen where you will have easy access to it when cooking. You will need to keep the soil damp, so water it frequently and keep it away from drying and heating elements.
When trimming your mint plant, trim from the top to help it grow more leaves on the sides. This will help you get more leaves from your plant. Also, make sure to trim the mint’s flower buds to keep your plant under control.
Once you start harvesting never take more than 1/3 of the leaves so that it doesn’t run out. To dry them out, either hang them from the stems, or lay them flat on a tray. Once the stems and leaves are brittle, you can store the leaves in an airtight container.
How to use it
You can use mint for any number of things. Mint tastes great cooked in dishes with chicken, fish, lamb and other proteins, or you can add it to salads, cooked vegetables and even potatoes. The most refreshing way to consume mint though, is in beverages such as mint tea, cocktails and even lemonade such as a delicious ginger, cucumber and mint lemonade.
As mentioned above, you can chew it to improve your oral health, sprinkle it in the tub or even rub it on itchy bug bites.
Featured photo credit: Debs via flickr.com