15 Refreshing Ways to Use Mint
As far as herbs go, peppermint is wholly underused in my humble opinion.
But recently I’ve started picking up the herb when I stock up on the usual suspects for my fridge, like basil, rosemary, and cilantro, and I have to admit that I’m totally stoked by all the applications mint has.
Primarily I use it to make a water-based metabolism-boosting drink that also features lemon and fresh ginger. But even after two or three pitchers per week, I have lots of mint leftover in the bunch. This abundance has forced me to discover other ways to use it up. Here are 15 of my favorites. (See also: 15 Uses for Garlic That Deserve a Round of Applause)
1. Keep Mice Away
I live in New York City, and when I was thinking of planting a garden in the backyard, I was advised to plant a bed of mint because it deters rats. Same goes for household mice. The vermin despise it, and they’ll steer clear of any area it’s in.
2. Relieve Cramps
Mint has natural digestive properties that help relax tract muscle and relieve cramping. So when your tummy hurts, mix mint into a soothing liquid drink like hot tea or warm water spiked with lemon.
3. Soothe Your Feet
The refreshing, tingly sensation you experience when you eat mint comes from the menthol it contains. To give your feet a pick-me-up, chop up a cup of mint leaves and combine with a cup of sea salt and one-third cup of olive oil. Scrub away.
4. Reduce Headache Pain
Use mint to reduce headache pain the same way you would to relieve cramps. Infuse your hot tea with mint or add mint to a glass of water and drink it.
5. Prevent Infections
Mint is known to slow down — and sometimes completely stop — bacteria and fungus from growing in the body because of its antibacterial properties. A diet that includes mint may give your body the boost it needs to ward off certain infections, like athlete’s foot, for instance.
6. Open Up Your Airways
Have a stuffy nose? Put mint in a pot of boiling water or hot tea and breathe in the spicy menthol to open up your passages. It works much like Vicks VapoRub, only peppermint is cheaper and all natural.
7. Relieve Stress
Mint has been linked to feelings of calmness and reduced levels of stress.
8. Potential Cancer Preventative
Studies are ongoing, but peppermint may help prevent certain types of cancer, including those that affect the skin, lungs, and colon. The research is currently inconclusive, but hopefully there will be sufficient evidence in the future that will give us another weapon to fight the deadly disease.
9. Spice Up a Salad
Want to add a little zing to your summer salad? Tear up a few leaves and toss them in with your other greens, fruits, and veggies for a surprise that’ll make your taste buds sing.
10. Make Grooming Products
With mint oils you can give a fresh scent to homemade soaps and shampoos that will save you lots of money over store-bought products. You can usually find these essential oils in a craft or natural food store.
11. Add to Ice Cubes
If your mint is in danger of rotting, put one leaf in each cube of an ice tray and freeze for later. Add a minty cube to water, lemonade, and iced tea for an instant refresher.
12. Refresh Your Face
Add mint leaves to a large bowl of cold water and let them steep for an hour or so in the fridge. Take it out, submerge your face, and experience the refreshing rush of this natural cleanser.
13. Freshen Your Carpet
Sprinkle a mixture of dried mint and baking soda on your carpet, let it sit for an hour, and then vacuum it up for a room that smells fresh and fantastic.
14. Make an Air Freshener
Mix mint with other fresh flowers and herbs for a homemade potpourri that will leave your house smelling bright and clean. For an easy mint potpourri recipe, try this pick from eHow.
15. Refresh Your Breath
Add mint oil to a baking soda/peroxide mixture to create a tasty homemade toothpaste that will freshen your breath and whiten your teeth.
Have more usual uses for mint that we should know about? Please share them with us in the comments below.