First of all it is necessary to know that the various species of mint are one of the most used in the world. This is because they are not only treated as medicinal plants, but also as a seasoning in many traditional dishes and as artificial flavorings.(1)
The plants popularly known as mint are part of the Lamiaceae family and of the Mentha genus , which houses more than 20 species of plants known as mint.(2) According to Adriana Pereira Freire Junqueira, pharmaceutical expert in medicinal plants, the species most used in Brazil are Mentha piperita, M. Spicata and M. viridis .
Because they belong to the same genus, most mint species are perennials and are cultivated in humid places . The leaves are usually small, simple and very aromatic and are the part used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
In addition, they are rich in essential oils that are composed of several phytochemicals responsible for the benefits of consuming the herb. The main one of these compounds is menthol, which represents more than half of the essential oil composition and brings several benefits to the respiratory and gastric systems.(3)
Mint tea helps you lose weight?
The mint tea can help those who want to lose weight , but not directly. According to Adriana Junqueira, what happens is that the mint tea helps to control anxiety.
In other words, consuming tea can decrease the urge to eat. This is especially true when some people get nervous or anxious for a variety of reasons.
A study published in August 2018 showed that mint has in its composition phytochemicals with anxiolytic and hypnotic effects . Therefore, tea is widely used to treat problems such as insomnia or stress in many parts of the world. In this way, helping to eliminate and prevent the main causes of binge eating.(4)
In addition, Junqueira informs that the infusion made with mint leaves has a diuretic action . Thus, the drink has substances that help the kidneys to filter the sodium present in the blood, helping to deflate the body, giving the impression of weight loss.
See also: Homemade slimming tea
Benefits of this tea
As already mentioned, the herbs popularly called mint are one of the most used in the world. This is due not only to the characteristic aroma and flavor of the leaves, but also to the various medicinal properties found in the herb.
In addition to calming and being used as a diuretic, other health benefits that mint brings are:
- For gastrointestinal problems
- it’s deworm
- Effective in treating respiratory problems
- It’s analgesic
- Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral
- Has antioxidant effect
- Prevents vomiting
- Decreases the risk of cardiovascular accidents
For gastrointestinal problems
Junqueira informs that one of the main uses for mint is in the treatment of problems that affect the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, the infusion can be consumed after meals, where it acts as a tonic that improves the digestion process or consumed in capsule form.
This last option, according to the specialist, is indicated for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (ICS). This illness can cause symptoms such as bloating, severe abdominal pain, and diarrhea or constipation.
The manipulated capsules are made with a material that resists the action of gastric juice, acting only when reaching the large intestine, where its compounds act to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Another benefit found in mint leaves and pointed out by Junqueira is its deworming action . Acting mainly against giardiasis and amoebiasis , which are caused by parasites that settle in the small and large intestines after ingestion of contaminated water or food.
Effective in treating respiratory problems
The mint flavor is often associated with cold and flu remedies . This is because the essential oils found in plants are effective against respiratory problems.
According to Junqueira, the most used in Brazil for this purpose is the mint, also known as Mentha villosa, in the form of teas or syrups, which should be consumed while the symptoms last.
In addition, some studies carried out with spearmint ( Mentha spicata ) highlight the action of antihistamine components. That is, phytochemicals that help to inhibit the progression of respiratory allergies .(5)
One of the little known effects of mint is its analgesic capacity.
This effect is related to the essential oils present in the leaves, which are rich in phytochemicals such as limonene and menthol. These two are responsible for promoting pain reduction in cases of arthritis .(6)
In addition, mint helps to increase pain tolerance because of its antinociceptive effect. Finally, the infusion made with the leaves also helps to lower body temperature, in laboratory research. (7)
Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral
Mint leaves also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to heal wounds and reduce the use of synthetic medications, especially since these can have some side effects.
The essential oil present in mint antibacterial effects. Thus, its use helps to inhibit the proliferation of these microorganisms that can cause various diseases.(8) Finally, it is also an antiviral.(9)
Has antioxidant effect
Mint tea is also a powerful natural antioxidant. In other words, it helps to protect cells from the action of free radicals, prevent premature aging and the appearance of various diseases. Like cancer, for example.(8)
Mint tea also has an anti-emetic effect. That is, it helps to reduce nausea and vomiting.
So it is very suitable for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Being considered a cheaper, safer and more effective treatment than traditional medicines.(10)
However, according to Junqueira, the ideal is for the infusion to be consumed cold or lukewarm, as this helps to calm the stomach and reduce the discomfort caused by this problem.
Decreases the risk of cardiovascular accidents
Laboratory studies have indicated that the essential oils of Mentha suaveolens , popularly called mentrasto or wild mint, have positive cardiovascular effects.
Thus, the herb helped to lower blood pressure and prevent the action of the hormone responsible for improving heart rate. Therefore, it can be useful to reduce the risk of cardiovascular accidents resulting from the aforementioned problems.(11)
Nutritional properties of mint leaves
In addition to having all the medicinal properties already mentioned and being useful for those who want to lose weight, mint has few calories . About five calories for every two tablespoons of fresh herb, which is equivalent to 11 grams of mint.
In addition, it also features small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Such as vitamin C, folate or B9 and calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, for example.(12)
How to prepare and consume?
According to the pharmaceutical specialist in medicinal plants, there are several ways to consume mint. Each one of them is more suitable for a specific purpose, as it makes the medicinal properties act differently in the body. Below you will see how each of them is prepared, check it out.
The tea made with mint leaves is indicated for those who suffer from gastric and respiratory problems or want to lose weight with health. The ideal, according to Junqueira, is to consume it warm after or between the main meals of the day, as it acts as a digestive tonic.
For those who want to take advantage of the herb’s calming properties, the infusion is also the best choice for consumption.
The preparation mode is quite simple. Just boil a cup of water and let two tablespoons of mint leaves steep for about 15 minutes. Junqueira warns not to leave the boiling, as this can destroy the medicinal properties.
The tincture, which is purchased at herbal medicine stores, can also be used, mainly to be used for more serious problems with acute symptoms.
for bad breath
Another very common use of mint is against bad breath. For this, Junqueira indicates to macerate 30 grams of herb leaves, which must be fresh, until it releases the juice. Soon after, mix the liquid in a liter of white wine, strain and reserve. It is recommended to use this infusion in mouthwash 3 times a day.
See also: Teas to treat bad breath
As already mentioned, peppermint essential oil is a potent dewormer. For this purpose Junqueira indicates to mix the juice of 20 grams of fresh leaves for every 300 ml of water. Ideally, this drink should be consumed in spoonfuls, three times a day for five days.
Contraindications and care
Junqueira advises that there are no health risks or side effects associated with continued use of peppermint tea. However, the herb should not be consumed in large amounts as it can cause interstitial nephritis, an infection that affects the kidneys, impair blood filtration, and even acute kidney failure. The dose considered dangerous for humans is approximately nine grams.
Also, the essential oil of mint, which is called menthol, should not be applied to the noses of young children . This is because it can cause respiratory arrest and even glottis spasms, making breathing difficult.
Finally, the component should not be used by people who have any obstruction of the biliary tract, cholecystitis, which is an inflammation of the gallbladder, or any serious liver damage . Since it can aggravate these problems, warns Junqueira.