Mint leaves come from Mentha Piperita, also known as Mint or Peppermint, a popular herb known for its distinct aroma and medicinal value. Its green leaves with serrated edges, are typically small, never growing more than 1 inch in length, and grow on purplish stems. This aromatic, perennial herb which originated in Europe grows best in a wet environment and moist soil, and because of this is now cultivated in all the regions of the world.
Mint leaves come in more than two dozen species with hundreds of varieties. Rich in vitamins and minerals, Mint leaves which are known in Yoruba as Ewe Zoro, or Ewe Taniloju, and in Hausa as Na’ana’a are widely used as a digestive aid, breath freshener, and as a remedy for a number of ailments.
Mint has antibacterial and antioxidant effects which it gets from the tannins and flavanoids which abound in it, and Its distinctive smell and flavour is due to the naturally occurring cyclic terpene alcohol called menthol (Pramila et al., 2011), which is its active ingredient. This is why peppermint teas are effective decongestant and expectorant, and very soothing in cases of cough and sore throat (Guardian)
Commercially, Peppermint is used to add flavour to toothpaste, chewing gums and mouth fresheners, and e number of beverages and food items like salads. Due to its refreshing aroma, sharp menthol smell, and cooling sensation, it is often used in home products like bath preparations, mouthwashes, toothpaste, ointments, and of course soap! Mint leaves can be used fresh or dry, and can also be ground into a powder which has a rich green hue. It has so many uses and benefits for health and wellness, and we have listed some of them below;
Mint leaves make a good antiseptic and anti-pruritic material, and mint juice is an excellent skin cleanser. Rich in salicylic acid which makes it a good anti-acne remedy, its anti-inflammatory properties make it very soothing to the skin in cases of insect bites and acne, as it cooling sensation relieves the irritation of the constant need to scratch. A few drops of Mint Oil in a non-comedogenic oil will make an excellent cleanser for people dealing with acne issues.
Use mint leaves to heal cracked heels by boiling them in water and squeezing out the juice (like you would do for bitter leaf soup). Soaking the feet in this juice for 15 minutes everyday for about a week should give you feet that you can show off in sandals again!
Mint leaves act as a muscle relaxant, which is why Mint Tea is widely used to ease the pain of menstrual cramps. It also relieves general stress, mental fatigue and headaches. Try applying a drop of Mint Oil to the temples to clear your sinuses and a stuffy nose.
Mint has anti microbial effects on the bacteria that cause cavities and mouth odour, and as a result help in preventing tooth decay. See why almost every toothpaste and mouthwash is Mint flavoured ;)? In the middle ages, dried powdered mint leaves were used as a teeth whitener.
Hair growth stimulation
Rich in menthol, mint helps hair growth because of its ability to stimulate increased blood flow to the scalp and hair roots which promotes healthy hair follicles and longer, fuller hair. You can achieve this by adding a few drops of Mint Oil to your leave in hair products, or by using Mint Juice as a hair rinse.
DIY Mint Face Mask
- 1 medium sized ripe banana
- Few fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- How to apply
- Blend the mint leaves, lemon juice and banana into a smooth paste
- Apply to the face and neck for 20 minutes
- Rinse off
- Repeat twice a week. (It is advisable to do this at night because lemons might increase photo sensitivity).
What does this do?
Bananas delay the aging process by protecting our skin from free radicals, they also moisturize the skin and make it glow. Lemon juice which is rich in Vitamin C is an astringent to the skin, and mint leaves add their anti inflammatory, antioxidant and anti microbial activities to give this mask the kick that makes it a must have in your natural skincare routine. You can get mint leaves to buy at many vegetable markets, and most Shoprite stores in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.