Even though most of us are likely to equate peppermint with candy or even the Christmas season – peppermint leaf, peppermint tea, and peppermint essential oil also have some surprising health benefits. Let’s look at some of the fantastic health benefits of peppermint.
Peppermint is an excellent source of manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Research indicates that vitamin C and beta-carotene may play a role in decreasing colorectal cancer risk. Some studies suggest a link between increased vitamin C levels and a reduced risk for colon cancer, maybe as much as 40%. In contrast, other studies have shown that vitamin C intake can help to decrease the incidence of colon tumors. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids have been shown in some studies to reduce the risks of developing both colon cancer and rectal cancer. Vitamin A, which is structurally similar to beta-carotene, may help to decrease risk by preventing excessive colon cell proliferation and tumor formation.
Peppermint – Relieves Gas and Bloating
Historically, peppermint has been the go-to herb for digestive relief. Compounds in peppermint help relieve gas, pain, bloating, discomfort and relax the smooth muscles in the intestines to stop painful cramping.
Peppermint is long recognized for everyday gastric relief (think about after-dinner mints or the tradition of mint served with lamb for easier post-meal digestion)and is currently being researched as a bacteria fighter. If you are a frequent traveler, consume unfamiliar foods at odd times, or deal with a good amount of stress, peppermint is something you shouldn’t be without.
The l-menthol found in peppermint relieves gas, knock-down inflammation in the digestive tract, and stops harmful bacteria. It is so powerful that one meta-analysis of over 120 trials found that peppermint oil was more effective than prescription drugs for treating IBS.
Peppermint works very well for both short-term and chronic digestive relief because it relaxes the smooth muscle tissue in the gut. In turn, it reduces cramping and acts almost immediately to stop symptoms.
Another review examined sixteen placebo-controlled trials of enteric-coated peppermint oil and found that it relieved symptoms at about twice the rate of a placebo. The researchers concluded that peppermint oil could be considered a primary choice for IBS.
A British study measured the antibacterial effect of peppermint and other plant essential oils. They cited numerous examples of oils separately and in combination and concluded that even on its own, peppermint oil is excellent in treating IBS because it kills the bacteria responsible for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), rather than just slowing it down.
In addition to all of the above health benefits, it turns out that peppermint is an excellent source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B2. With high nutrient density and low-calorie status, peppermint also provides omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B2, potassium, and copper.
Health Benefits of Peppermint
- increases memory
- increases alertness
- improves blood circulation
- enhances gastric emptying
- combats bad breath
- helps indigestion
- provides stress relief
- increases immunity
- helps with headaches
- antiseptic properties
- helps with toothache pain
- helps with hives, rashes, poison oak/ivy
- helps with irritable bowel syndrome
- effective for infant colic
- protects against radiation-induced DNA damage & cell death
- improves shingles associated pain
- helps respiratory concerns
- reduces chemotherapy-induced nausea
- may inhibit prostate cancer growth
- effective relief for hay fever
Peppermint & Ginger Tea Recipe
2 inches of fresh ginger root, sliced into 1/2 inch long slices
2 tablespoons fresh peppermint leaves or 1 teaspoon dry peppermint leaves
1/2 teaspoon dry lemon balm leaves
Place 1 Cup of purified water on the stove to boil. Place the ginger root & peppermint into a tea ball, or tie them up in cheesecloth. Put the tea ball or cheesecloth into the teacup. Pour boiling water over the herbs & let them steep for 5 minutes. Remove herbs & sweeten with raw honey if desired.