A serving of dried mint leaves provides you more fiber, vitamins and minerals than a serving of fresh mint leaves, but the benefits of mint extend beyond its nutritional value. Similarities exist between historical and modern mint uses. Whether you purchase it from grocers or dry mint leaves from your garden, this aromatic herb serves multiple purposes.
Just as the Romans flavored their wines and sauces with peppermint, today's cooks use spearmint and peppermint to flavor dishes and food extracts. Other varieties of mint, such as orange, mountain, chocolate and calamint, complement an assortment of dishes, too, as they each impart a distinctive mint flavor. Use dried mint leaves in chilled soups, as recommended by Jim Meuninck in "Medicinal Plants of North America," or in spice rubs for meats, such as lamb. Mint also adds a refreshing zest to some stews, casseroles, salads and cooked vegetables.
Aristotle thought peppermint an aphrodisiac and the Greeks believed mints cure hiccups, but modern medicinal mint use is an alternative therapy for skin, respiratory and digestive complaints. Spearmint or peppermint leaves in bath water may cool and soothe skin. Peppermint tea, made from boiling water and dried mint leaves, delivers relief from indigestion, flatulence, and cold and flu symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that people with hiatal hernias and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should not take peppermint, nor should nursing or pregnant women. Consult your doctor before using mint as an herbal remedy.
Dried mint leaves add fragrance to potpourri and provide a crisp, clean and uplifting scent. Boil them in water to infuse the room with their fragrance, or boil them with other spices and citrus rinds to experiment with scent combinations. Mint-filled sachets deliver a subtle mint fragrance as well.
Historically, people scattered mints throughout their homes to rid them of pests, according to Jim Meuninck. The scent of peppermint or spearmint may repel rodents, ants, flies and fleas, so natural pest control measures include sachets or tea bags filled with dried mint leaves in infested areas or placed at pest points of entry. Penn State's Department of Horticulture notes that spearmint leaves in drawers may repel moths.