Nature on our doorsteps – The many uses of mint
Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures
Of all our garden herbs, the scent of mint is probably most familiar to every single one of us.
This is because it is used today in so many different products such as toothpastes, shampoos, detergents, air-fresheners, teas, sweets, chewing gums, inhalers, creams and skin balms.
HEALTHY: Mint is best grown in a pot, as its roots will spread
Menthol is the chemical compound in mint that is key to its wide-ranging use.
This oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties and is known to help relieve congestion in the nose, throat, and lungs. It also helps to reduce inflammation caused by severe coughing and, for this reason, menthol is often used in vapo-rubs and inhalers.
Teas made from mint leaves are widely used to help relieve indigestion and soothe an upset stomach.
It also works against bacteria and plaque in our mouths, which is why it is included in so many toothpastes.
It is believed that mint’s strong and refreshing smell can help to relieve stress, help invigorate the mind, and boost our mood.
According to some studies, it does this by causing the release of small amounts of serotonin in our brains which helps to regulate feelings of anxiety.
Because of all these benefits, it is not surprising therefore that this aromatic plant has indeed been used by humans in cooking and in health care since the very early days.