The mint plant has been my life. Growing up, mum subjected us – my two younger brothers and I – to a mint plant supplementary diet. Being 8, 6 and 4; we loved to play, kicking up the dust and braving the elements. But we weren’t always so lucky with allergies given that mild allergies run in the family. So in a game akin to musical chairs, the sniffs would shift among us. Anytime any of us caught a flu there was a well-known routine.
Mum had a mint planted in a five liter capacity plastic can cut in half, that stood at the corner of her kitchen garden.
Mum’s Home Remedy Ritual: My first encounter of the natural health benefits of the mint plant
The ritual begun with each one of us rushing to mint bush and coming back with a clutch of mint plant leaves in their hand. Mum would then boil water put it in a basin and then drop in the plucked handful mint leaves.
We automatically congregated around the basin and made a hood using a blanket. She handed a spoon to one of us to stir up the water as we inhaled the steam. We stayed under the steamed hood for as long as she deemed fit. Occasionally stirring with the spoon.
When she was convinced we had spent enough time in the mint hood picked the blanket from our heads and instructed us to leave carefully. I don’t remember us getting into an accident as this would have earned us punishment. To date, I steam my face with mint to remove makeup.
The last time I visited mum I realized very little has changed. My five-year old nephew had a running nose. Mum made him a mint hood like she did decades ago. The only difference is that this time she used a towel. Her mint bush is still intact.
9 Health benefits of mint
Against the previously widely held healthy eating hack that ‘If it tastes good, then it’s unhealthy’ the delightful flavor and natural health benefits of mint are well known. Whether taken as food or when incorporated into natural health products we find foodies, healthy living buffs and reputable brands swearing by the natural health benefits of the mint plant .
Now that I am looking forward to be a mother soon (I would give anything to be half a mother as my mother) I did my homework on mint with the aim of separating myths about mint and its health benefits from the known natural health benefits of mint. Here is what I found.
- Growing mint plant will keep your yard and garden buzzing as mint attracts friendly bugs and insects while repelling the bad ones. Essential oils extracted from this herb are particularly useful in repelling mosquitoes. Moreover, mint grown in a pot and placed within your kitchen garden could help repel bugs. Organic farmers combine the aromatic properties of herbs like mint and home composting to great effect. As mum, this property of mint makes it super easy to feed your family on healthy home-grown organic food.
- It makes a delicious addition to meals. I love the freshness it brings to my mandatory pick-me-up morning cup of green tea. God knows how critical it is in me beating Monday blues. My partner swears that it makes all the difference in his spicy roast marinade. As it accentuates the smokey aromas and flavors of ginger, rosemary and thyme.
- This magical plant is also said to have the highest antioxidant capacities of any food. It contains menthol, a natural aromatic decongestants that helps to break up phlegm and mucus, making it easier to expel.
- Applying mint extract as essential oils or balm has been found to increase pain threshold in humans. This arises from the cooling effect which calms skin affected by insect bites, rash or other reactions.
- In some patients, it eases the discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
- The powerful aroma of mint can find use in reliving tension headaches . After a hard day in the office, chop up and drop its leaves to your bath for a spa bath experience !
- Mint leaves, especially freshly crushed leaves help you deal with nausea and headache. My girlfriend, Khalai, during her first pregnancy, always had a clutch of mint leaves in a zip lock plastic bag in her handbag. They did came in handy in fighting nausea during her first trimester.
- This sweet-smelling plant also has soothing and anesthetic properties that make it a great fit for homemade body-care products and fragrant potpourri to lift up the spirit of the room by soothing pungent damp odors.
- On an industrial scale, mint oil are often used in toothpaste, gum, candy and beauty products. At home, we can achieve the same effect by integrating either fresh or dried for leaves in store-bought items. At times, your preferred beauty product may not come in mint. With a little thinking out of the box, you can still enjoy the soothing calming effect of mint by mixing it up with dried mint leaves on a mortar and pestle.
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