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10 Surprising Things Mint Does to Your Body

Mint juleps. Mint chocolate desserts. Mint tea. Mint detox water. The easy-to-grow herb has so many uses for food and drink—but its health benefits deserve some love, too.

We're not suggesting you go on a candy cane diet, but here's a fun finding: When participants in a study sniffed peppermint every two hours, they lost an average of five pounds. It got us thinking about how we tend to regard mint (and its children, peppermint, spearmint, etc.) as either a recipe ingredient or as a way to freshen your breath—but there's so much more to this wonder plant's properties.

Used in folk medicine for centuries, a ton of modern research has confirmed many of this aromatic plant's purported health benefits. Below, you'll find ten body problems for which mint may prove to be an ingenious solution, and not just for curbing your appetite. If you're wondering why you can't lose weight, be sure to check out Diet and Fitness Experts Explain Why You're Not Losing Weight!

Mint Aids Weight Loss

weight loss success

True story: Mint can be your secret weapon to weight loss. It works by stimulating the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food and consume fat and turn it into usable energy. That's one crafty herb!

In 2003, researchers wanted to test the influence of 14 herbs and spices on the activities of digestive enzymes pancreases and small intestines of rats. They found that mint was one of the spices that enhanced these activities, more effectively turning food into energy. If you're reading this, it's unlikely that you're a rat, but your digestive system does function in a similar way. By adding mint to your diet, more of the fat you eat will be put to good use, as opposed to steadily making your pants tighter.

Mint Helps With Indigestion and Gas

stomach pain

These two are some of the least appealing ailments that we can suffer from. This double act can be uncomfortable for us and, uh, uncomfortable for those around us. Gassy ancestors, living in the years before Beano and Pepto-bismol, used to grab some mint leaves to ease their discomfort and prevent their blushes. Mint is thought to improve the flow of bile through the stomach, which helps to speed and ease digestion. For this reason, peppermint tea is a common home remedy for flatulence and can also relieve pain and discomfort from gas and bloating.

Mint Heightens Mental Alertness and Memory

mentally alert

Next time you're thinking about picking up a pack of breath fresheners, choose mint over any other flavor. A recent study that looked at chewing gum's effect on alertness and found that people who frequently use mint-based chewing gum had higher levels of memory retention and mental alertness than those who did not. Your move? If you're feeling less than brilliant, put something minty in your mouth and see if your brain gets a boost!

Mint Calms Seasonal Allergies

seasonal allergies

Mint plants contain an antioxidant known as rosmarinic acid. It a chemical compound found in a variety of plants (but most of them not nearly as palatable and versatile as mint). Rosmarinic acid has been studied for its effectiveness in relieving seasonal allergy symptoms, and it's been shown to be a promising treatment due to it's anti-inflammatory properties.

Mint Eases Pain Relief

head and neck pain

Next time you're experiencing a headache or other pain in your body, try heading to the herb garden before making a trip to the pharmacy. Chewing some mint leaves could be just as effective as conventional pain relievers, according to researchers at Newcastle University. Scientists testing the pain relieving properties of Hyptis crenata (otherwise known as Brazilian mint) on mice found that this intriguing plant made into a tea and consumed could be just as effective as synthetic aspirin-style drug Indometacin. Try adding mint into a smoothie, like we did in these 56 Best Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss!

Mint Fights Cold Symptoms

common colds

Having a cold is never fun, and two of the least fun symptoms are a buildup of phlegm and mucus. While you sometimes may need a heavy duty OTC pill to help move that phlegm and mucus, mint can be effective at breaking up some of this nastiness. Bonus: If you have a sore throat, mint can be combined with tea to provide effective relief.

Mint Helps With Nausea

dizzy and sick

Feeling a little green around the gills? Pluck a few green mint leaves, tear them up in your hands and huff. The strong and refreshing aroma of mint is said to be a quick and effective remedy for nausea.

Mint Makes Breastfeeding More Comfortable

mother with baby

The jury is still out on just the benefits of breastfeeding for the health of babies. But the jury is in, however, on mint's role in reducing the nipple discomfort that women can experience with breastfeeding. Peppermint water is effective in preventing nipple cracks and nipple pain in lactating primiparous women, reported a study published by the International Breastfeeding Journal. Pregnant? Find out these 6 bad habits you must avoid.

Mint Soothes Skin Rashes

woman checking skin

Mint can be great for you topically, too! When mint is in an ointment or lotion, it has a calming and cooling effect on skin that's been affected by insect bites, rash or other reactions.

Mint Helps Relieve IBS

stomach pain

If you suffer from IBS, you're not alone. It's estimated to affect fully one-fifth of the US population. In 2011, Australian researchers showed for the first time how peppermint can help to relieve irritable bowel syndrome. In their study, they describe how peppermint activates an "anti-pain" channel in the colon, soothing inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract. In treating IBS, it's important to know peppermint oil must be delivered to the colon to be absorbed. Ordinary gelatin capsules release it in the stomach, which can cause refluxing of stomach acid. Super not fun. Don't miss the 37 IBS Remedies That Will Change Your Life!