Many consider the humble peppermint plant a weed. Indeed, it is easy to grow and easy to maintain. However, despite its relatively low maintenance reputation, it is a plant that has a multitude of health benefits.
Peppermint is an aromatic herb in the mint family that is a cross between watermint and spearmint. Native to Europe and Asia, it has been used for thousands of years for its pleasant, minty taste and health benefits. Clinical evidence suggests that peppermint oil likely can help with symptoms ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to indigestion. It may even prevent spasms in the GI tract caused by endoscopy or barium enema. Some studies show that used topically, it may help soothe tension headaches and cracked nipples from breastfeeding—but more research is needed to confirm these studies.
What are the 12 proven health benefits of peppermint?
- Easing indigestion
Peppermint may relieve digestive symptoms, such as gas, bloating, and indigestion. Some studies indicate that peppermint relaxes your digestive system and may ease pain. It also prevents smooth muscles from contracting, which could relieve spasms in your gut.
2. Relieving of headaches and migraines
As peppermint acts as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever, it may diminish certain types of headaches. The menthol in peppermint oil increases blood flow and provides a cooling sensation, possibly easing pain. While the aroma of peppermint tea may help relax muscles and improve headache pain, there is no supporting scientific evidence to confirm this effect. However, applying peppermint oil to your temples may help.
3. Eradicating bad breath
In addition to its pleasant smell, peppermint has antibacterial properties that help kill germs that cause dental plaque — which may improve your breath. Peppermint oil has been shown to kill germs that lead to bad breath. Peppermint tea, which contains peppermint oil, may help improve breath as well.
4. Unblocking your sinuses
Peppermint has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, peppermint tea may fight clogged sinuses due to infections, the common cold, and allergies. Additionally, research demonstrates that menthol — one of the active compounds in peppermint — improves the perception of airflow in your nasal cavity. Therefore, steam from peppermint tea may help you feel as though your breathing is easier.
5. Energy boosting
Peppermint oil has been shown to relieve fatigue and daytime sleepiness in some studies. While research specifically on peppermint tea is lacking, it is suggested that natural compounds in peppermint may have beneficial effects on energy.
6. Reducing menstrual cramps
Peppermint acts as a muscle relaxant and, as such, it may relieve menstrual cramps. Drinking peppermint tea may reduce the intensity and length of menstrual cramps since peppermint helps prevent muscle contractions.
Studies confirm that peppermint effectively fights several types of bacteria, including those that cause food-borne illnesses and contagious illnesses.
8. Possible weight loss
Peppermint tea is a calorie-free beverage that may help satisfy your sweet tooth and reduce your appetite. However, more studies on peppermint and weight loss are needed.
9. Combatting allergies
Peppermint contains rosmarinic acid, a plant compound found in rosemary and plants in the mint family. Rosmarinic acid is linked to reduced symptoms of allergic reactions, such as runny nose, itchy eyes and asthma. While it’s unknown whether the amount of rosmarinic acid found in peppermint is enough to affect allergy symptoms, there is some evidence that peppermint may relieve allergies.
10. Boosting focus
Drinking peppermint tea may help improve your ability to concentrate and focus.
While studies on the effects of peppermint tea on concentration are unavailable, two small studies have researched this beneficial effect of peppermint oil — taken by ingestion or inhalation.
How to use peppermint to utilise its benefits?
Peppermint tea is delicious and easy to add to your diet.
You can buy it in tea bags, as loose-leaf tea, or simply grow your own peppermint.
To make your own peppermint tea:
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and add a handful of torn peppermint leaves to the water.
- Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain the tea and drink.
Because peppermint tea is naturally free of caffeine you can drink it at any time of day.
*This article is not a replacement for professional medical advice.