Mint is very common. There is chocolate mint, mountain mint, Vietnamese mint and lemon mint. Then there are the famous twins, peppermint and spearmint; in all there are a total of about 500 mints!!
Mint is one of the most popular and well recognized flavors of the world. It is an ingredient in many products, soft drinks, cocktails, jellies, teas, ice creams and candles among many others. However the mint that flavors many of these treats is Peppermint, the sweet mint.
When you go to the store to buy a mint spice you will find more spearmint, the savory mint. Whether it is sweet or savory, all mint is a potent healer. Let’s start with the digestive tract and how mint helps.
Peppermint can help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive problem that strikes an estimated one out of every seven Americans; many of them are women.
IBS has a range of symptoms including abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. In one Italian study 54 people with IBS took enteric coated peppermint oil for four weeks. Results showed that 75% of people with the above symptoms had at least 50% reduction of those issues.
Researchers in Canada found that peppermint oil can help clear up bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines, a suspected cause of IBS. There are other digestive problems where peppermint can help with indigestion and spasmodic episodes.
Menthol one of the compounds in peppermint helps clear up nasal congestion and other respiratory discomfort resulting in easier breathing. This compound also helps with nerve pain, like after shingles and for headaches by rubbing the essential oil on the temples. Today it is used in many pain relieving products like Icy Hot and Tiger Balm.
Peppermint and spearmint can also help with stress; anxiety and work performance by helping you stay focused. Researchers in UK found that women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition with high testosterone levels, drinking spearmint tea twice a day for one month reduced the levels of testosterone. For breastfeeding mothers using a topical treatment of peppermint water on their nipples were less likely to have cracking of nipples or nipple pain.
Of course, mint oil kills bacteria of the gums and teeth. Of course, that’s why many chewing gum and mouthwashes have peppermint and spearmint flavoring.
A study also found that peppermint can lessen hot flashes induced by chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.
Try steam inhalation using peppermint or spearmint in boiling water and breathing in its steam for nasal congestion.
Spearmint and peppermint have been used in toiletries and cosmetics for centuries but mint really was not used for food until the 17th century. Countries in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Southeast Asia use a lot of mint in their foods; both fresh and dried herbs, in both sweet and savory dishes.
In India, Raita, made with mint, cucumber and yogurt is a popular condiment; it is a cooling contrast to hot curries!
Here are more ideas to put more mint in your diet:
-Freeze mint in ice cubes to put in iced tea and lemonade
-Grind mint and add to vinaigrette salad dressing
-Add mint to cream based soups and sauces
-Substitute mint for basil in your pesto
-Use mint instead of oregano or basil with eggplant or tomato dishes
Give these mints a try and you may have better luck with the natural plant then over the counter aids!
Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal