Mint leaves (known as Mentha in Spanish) are in the family of aromatic herbs that are used to add specific aroma to dishes. They taste like very mild peppermint with a cool aftertaste. On visual inspection, they look so much like our Scent leaves (Nchanwu, Efirin).
But the scents and tastes of Mint Leaves and Scent Leaves are not the same at all. Mint leaves are popular herb and a well-known mouth freshener that has been used for hundreds of years for its medicinal properties. It has more than two dozen species and hundreds of varieties which also include peppermint and spearmint.
It can be used in many culinary preparations in its fresh or dried form. Most of us are familiar with the refreshing application of mint, but it has far more to offer than that. The health benefits include the following:
Treatment of asthma: Regular use of this herb is very beneficial for asthma patients, as it is a good relaxant and relieves congestion. That being said, using too much of it in this way can also irritate the nose and throat.
Cure allergies and hay fever: Seasonal allergies and hay fever (also known as rhinitis) affect millions of people around the world. Extracts of mint leaves have been shown to inhibit the release of certain chemicals, which aggravate severe nasal symptoms associated with hay fever and seasonal allergies.
Aid in digestion: Mint is a great appetizer or a palate cleanser. The aroma of the herb helps activate the salivary glands in your mouth as well as the glands which secrete the digestive enzymes, thereby facilitating digestion. It also soothes the stomach in case of indigestion or inflammation.
Aid in breast feeding: A research study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal in 2007 has shown that mint oil helps reduce the nipple cracks and pain that often accompany breastfeeding.
Prevent respiratory disorders: Research led by Prof. Ron Eccles at the University of Wales, UK, states that menthol, present in mint, helps in relieving nasal congestion. It is also very effective in clearing up congestion of the throat, bronchi, and lungs, which give relief from respiratory disorders that often, result from asthma and common colds.
Oral care: According to research, mint has germicidal qualities and it quickly freshens breath. It also adds to oral health by inhibiting harmful bacterial growth inside the mouth and by cleaning the tongue and teeth.
This is why the herb would often be rubbed directly on the teeth and gums to refresh the mouth and eliminate dangerous forms of growth.