Mentha (also known as mint, from Greek μίνθα míntha, Linear B mi-ta) is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family). The exact distinction between species is unclear; it is estimated that 13 to 24 species exist. Hybridization occurs naturally where some species range overlap. Many hybrids and cultivars are known.
The genus has a subcosmopolitan distribution across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America.
Traditional medicine and cosmetics
Mint was originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache and chest pains. There are several uses in traditional medicine and preliminary research for possible use in treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Menthol from mint essential oil (40–90%) is an ingredient of many cosmetics and some perfumes. Menthol and mint essential oil are also used in aromatherapy which may have clinical use to alleviate post-surgery nausea.
Although it is used in many consumer products, mint may cause allergic reactions in some people, inducing symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, heartburn, tingling or numbing around the mouth, anaphylaxis or contact dermatitis.
Mint oil is also used as an environmentally friendly insecticide for its ability to kill some common pests such as wasps, hornets, ants, and cockroaches.
Room scent and aromatherapy
Known in Greek mythology as the herb of hospitality, one of mint's first known uses in Europe was as a room deodorizer. The herb was strewn across floors to cover the smell of the hard-packed soil. Stepping on the mint helped to spread its scent through the room. Today, it is more commonly used for aromatherapy through the use of essential oils.