Peppermint is a popular herb known for its distinct aroma and medicinal value. It belongs to the Lamiaceae family, of the genus Mentha and its botanical name is Mentha piperita. They are known by different names in different languages. Peppermint leaves in Hindi are called Pudina Patte and peppermint leaves in Tamil are called milakukkirai vittu. Peppermint has greenish purple lance-shaped leaves and a refreshing cool flavor. Due to its refreshing aroma, sharp menthol odor and cooling sensation, it is often used in home products like bath preparations, mouthwashes, toothpastes and ointments.
Peppermint leaf is often used for flavoring beverages or while cooking. Peppermint leaves can form part of salads and add flavor to drinks or even purified water. They are also used to make peppermint tea or extract peppermint oil. The compounds in the leaves are said to have therapeutic and medicinal properties. Peppermint leaves are available throughout the year and are mostly in demand during the summer season due to their cooling effect.
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Peppermint Leaves Benefits
Health Benefits of Peppermint Leaves:
In addition to their refreshing cooling effect on the taste buds and throat, peppermint leaves are rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fiber but low in calories. They are used in herbal medicines and offer the following health benefits.
1. Improves Liver Function:
Peppermint leaves improve the liver function by improving the flow of bile from the liver to the gallbladder. Fresh or dried peppermint leaves increase bile flow and aid in digestion by helping to break down fats and reduce bad cholesterol. Decreased cholesterol cures sluggish liver by reducing the strain on the liver. Peppermint leaves calm and sooth the digestive system by relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome including indigestion, dyspepsia and colonial muscle spasms.
2. Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu:
Peppermint leaves can kill bacteria and viruses. The menthol in these leaves thins mucus and eliminates phlegm, thus providing relief from coughs and congestion. Menthol is often used as a common ingredient in rubs used on chest to relieve chest aches experienced during cold and flu due to its calming and numbing effect.
3. Treatment of Respiratory Problems:
Peppermint leaves contain rosemarinic acid which is beneficial in asthma due to its antioxidant properties that neutralize free radicals and block the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals such as leukotrienes. Moreover, it facilitates the making of substances called prostacyclins that keep the airways open for easy breathing. Peppermint leaf extract inhibits histamine release, thus alleviating the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
4. Elimination of Bad Breath:
Due to its cool refreshing aroma, peppermint leaf extract can be a superior substitute to the mouthwash chemical chlorhexidine to get rid of bad breath. Powdered peppermint leaves were often used in the middle ages to treat halitosis and whiten teeth. Even simply chewing peppermint leaves gives the effect of a mouth freshener.
5. Anti-Cancer Properties:
According to research, peppermint leaves contain a phytonutrient which has shown to stop the growth of cancerous tumors in pancreas, liver and mammary glands, thus protecting against lungs, colon and skin cancers. They also contain a compound called menthol that inhibits prostate cancer growth.
6. Treatment of Fever:
Consuming peppermint tea or adding it to a bath can help in bringing down fever gently without medicine and any adverse effect on the body’s ability to fight illness.
7. Anti-Bacterial Agent:
Peppermint leaves have the potential to stop the growth of different bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). They are also effective in inhibiting the growth of certain types of fungus. They are effective in the treatment of infantile colic.
8. Enhances Memory:
The strong aroma of peppermint leaves enhances memory and increases mental alertness by calming and soothing the nervous system.
9. Other Benefits:
The aromatic compounds in peppermint leaves relieve muscle spasms, increase blood circulation, reduce pain and promote sweating whereas the astringent compounds shrink inflamed tissues. Peppermint leaves can be used to cure mouth sores, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, nausea, motion sickness and dysmenorrhea. They are excellent sources of potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium. Potassium is a vital component of cells and body fluids that control heart rate and blood pressure whereas manganese works with copper as a co factor for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide-dismutase.
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Skin Benefits of Peppermint Leaves:
In addition to their numerous health benefits, peppermint leaves can be beneficial for your skin in the following ways.
10. Maintenance of Skin Health:
The nutrients in peppermint leaves help tone the skin, minimize pores, reduce swelling and restore skin elasticity. Vitamins A and C are powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation which appears in the form of red marks on the skin whereas B vitamins, riboflavin and folate brighten the complexion. These leaves can be powdered in sugar scrubs to have an invigorating effect on the skin.
11. Herbal Remedy for Skin Problems:
Peppermint leaves are used as an ingredient in topical creams meant for treating a variety of skin issues like hives, rashes, poison oak or poison ivy. Application of these ointments has a soothing and healing effect on the skin.
Hair Benefits of Peppermint Leaves:
Due to their healthy combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, peppermint leaves promote hair health and thus offer the following benefits.
12. Treatment of Dandruff:
A strong tea made from peppermint and nettle leaves can be used as a hair rinse to get rid of dandruff. It is great for soothing the scalp and promoting hair growth as well.
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13. Treatment of Head lice:
Due to the antibacterial properties of this herb, peppermint extract is effective in treating head lice infestation.