Life Extension Magazine®

Mint plant that is linked with improved respiratory conditions


Known for breath-freshening effects, mint also improves memory and alertness, and its abundant menthol helps nasal decongestion and promotes digestion.

Scientifically reviewed by: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, in August 2023. Written by: Laurie Mathena.

Mint is commonly found in products like toothpaste, chewing gum, and breath mints, but there is more to this tasty herb than its breath-freshening qualities.

Mint’s use as an herbal medicine dates back to at least 1,000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians used it for its antibacterial properties.1 More recently, studies have shown that compounds found in mint can have beneficial effects on conditions including nasal congestion, digestion, and memory.

Respiratory Conditions

Menthol, the most abundant compound found in mint, is what gives the herb its signature flavor. Menthol also has numerous health benefits, especially in the area of respiratory disorders. Traditional Chinese medicine has used mint as a treatment for respiratory diseases for hundreds of years. In a study, lozenges containing menthol were found to improve nasal sensation of airflow in people suffering from nasal congestion associated with the common cold.2


The same compound, menthol, has been shown to help with digestion. In an animal study, giving menthol to rats produced gastroprotective and anti-diarrheal activities.3 Menthol also has antispasmodic effects that can relieve indigestion and abdominal pain.4

Cognitive Benefits

One study showed that people who chew gum with mint as the major active ingredient had higher levels of memory retention and alertness than those who didn’t. In fact, another study showed that simply inhaling the aroma of mint is an effective way to boost memory and mood.5

Mint makes a delicious tea and can add a fresh flavor to a variety of salads.


  1. Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants. 2013 2013/07/04;16(4):429-38.
  2. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1990 Sep;42(9):652-4.
  3. Chem Biol Interact. 2013 Nov 25;206(2):272-8.
  4. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2019;24(9):1675.
  5. Int J Neurosci. 2008 Jan;118(1):59-77.