Mint is a perennial herb known for its crisp flavour and is used all around the world for cooking and in herbal medicine. The word mint, scientifically known as Mentha, is rooted in the Greek word minthe.
Mythology Mint has a romantic relation with Greek mythology. According to the myth, Minthe was a beautiful wood nymph whom Pluto liked very much. Pluto's wife became jealous and turned Minthe into a crawling plant, mint. Pluto was unable to change her back to a nymph, but he gave her the ability to smell fresh when crushed.
Some History It was reported to be used in prehistoric Europe and Africa around 1,000 B.C. During the days of influenza, it was used to deflect rats and flies. People of Athens believed that scenting homes with mint would bring integrity and insight.
Health Benefits of Mint Mint has several species and hundreds of varieties. Among them, peppermint is more versatile and easy to find. Apart from cooking, it has many health benefits.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, mint can help to relieve indigestion. Menthol in mint stimulate the enzymes for digestion, relaxing the muscles of the stomach. Mint is also good for reducing acidity and flatulence.
Mint can also help to lessen pain. Many pain balms in use contain mint extract as the main ingredient. Mint provides a cooling effect, causing the area to partially become numb and thus help in reducing the pain. It can also help to reduce stomach cramps. Inhaling mint fumes eases the nerves and helps to calm the entire body, which will reduce stress and depression.
Mint is loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients and can contribute to acne free and glowing skin. The antioxidants give the skin a natural glow and rehydrate dull and dry skin. Salicylic acid in mint prevents pimples and blemishes. Because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, mint extract is used in many cleansers and toners.
The antibacterial property of mint helps in fighting oral infections, tooth decay, bad breath, hence most toothpastes use mint extracts.
According to the authors of 'The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods', Micheal.T. Murrey and Joseph.E.Pizzorno, mint contains rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant that helps to treat and prevent certain allergies.
You can easily grow a mint plant in your garden. All mint varieties are fast-growing. We always plant it where ever we live so that the mint leaves will be available anytime. Also, it makes the home smell fresh.
Here is a simple recipe to use mint in any dessert or drink. You can even substitute it for store-bought mint extract.
Sweet and Simple Mint Syrup Makes about 3/4 cup
Ingredients 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed with fresh mint leaves
Bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat in a saucepan.
Remove from heat, add mint leaves, stir and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Strain the syrup into a bowl with a fine mesh sieve. Discard the leaves, if you want.
Cover and chill for 1 hour before using. You can refrigerate the syrup up to 5 days.
In many cultures, the dining tables are rubbed with mint leaves to welcome guests. Many of the traditional uses of mint hold true today. Like a group of researchers said, it's more than just an after-dinner mint. Whether you use it in food, juice or toothpaste, mint is always pleasing to the taste buds.