Mint is the name for over a dozen plant species, including peppermint and spearmint, that belong to the genus Mentha. These plants are particularly known for the cooling sensation they impart. They can be added to foods in both fresh and dried forms. Mint is a popular ingredient in several foods and beverages, ranging from teas and alcoholic drinks to sauces, salads and desserts. While eating the plant offers some health benefits, research shows that several of mint’s health benefits come from applying it to the skin, inhaling its aroma or taking it as a capsule, as previously noted. Here Megan Ware, LD, RDN, MedicalNewsToday.com, reflects on whether mint is good for you, medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C:
“Using fresh mint and other herbs and spices in cooking can help a person add flavor while reducing their sodium and sugar intake.
Throughout history, people have used different species of mint plants in medicine. Different types of mint plants offer a range of antioxidant qualities and potential health benefits, especially for people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In this article, we provide a nutritional breakdown of mint and explain its possible health benefits. We also give tips on including more mint in the diet.
Mint may have several potential health benefits.
Managing gastrointestinal problems
A 2019 review found that placebo-controlled studies support the use of peppermint oil as a remedy for a range of gastrointestinal conditions, including indigestion, IBS, stomach pain in children, and feelings of sickness after surgery.
The authors of the review found that mint works against harmful microbes, regulates muscle relaxation, and helps control inflammation.
A different review from the same year assessed 12 randomized controlled trials and found that peppermint oil was a safe and effective intervention for pain symptoms in adults with IBS.
However, a 2019 randomized, double-blind trial of 190 people with IBS found that peppermint oil did not significantly reduce symptoms.
More research is necessary to confirm the benefits of mint products in managing IBS.
Soothing common cold symptoms
Mint contains menthol. This an aromatic decongestant that might help to break up phlegm and mucus, making it easier to expel.
Applying menthol ointments or vapor rubs may be a safe and effective treatment for children who have a common cold.
However, the American Lung Association (ALA) advise that scientific studies do not support the use of menthol for managing cold symptoms.
Despite this, some people may find that cold symptoms reduce after applying a menthol vapor rub.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) advise that peppermint oil may cause skin irritation and redness. They recommend that parents or carers do not apply the ointment directly to the chest or face of a child due to serious possible side effects after direct inhalation.
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