Did you know peppermint is actually a hybrid type of plant? The herb with a minty fresh after-taste is an aromatic plant that is created from the blending of two other types of mint, known as watermint and spearmint. While originally from Europe, peppermint is now cultivated in many different parts of the world.
Many of us associate a specific smell and taste with peppermint. This is because peppermint is widely used in a variety of soaps, candies, teas, fragrances, and much more. The oil from the peppermint is extracted and used in these types of products. While you may associate peppermint with candy canes or peppermint patties, peppermint can actually be used in a variety of forms to promote natural health. Peppermint is both a cost-effective and natural option for those looking to try holistic approaches to alleviate symptoms associated with health conditions.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the many health forms and health benefits of peppermint.
Different Forms of Peppermint
As mentioned above, peppermint is used in a variety of different food or health and beauty items. Peppermint can come in either fresh or dried leaves, which are often used in various foods or herbal teas. Peppermint can also come in essential oil form, which is generally used in products such as creams, lotions, or tinctures. One other form of peppermint available is via capsules. The capsules can be taken to help alleviate symptoms associated with certain medical conditions.
Health Benefits of Peppermint
- Skin Conditions- Peppermint has successfully helped provide relief for symptoms associated with certain skin conditions for many people. This is due to its ability to help calm skin irritation or itchiness and reduce patches of redness. To use, rub peppermint oil that has been diluted for topical use into the affected area. While this is not proven, it is a natural remedy worth trying if you’re experiencing any type of skin irritation.
- Helps in Cold & Flu Season- Peppermint contains several chemical components, which include menthol as the primary ingredient. Menthol makes up approximately 41% of the chemical makeup of peppermint. Menthol is both a decongestant and an expectorant, which are things often seen in cold & flu medications. If you’re looking for a natural cold and flu remedy, peppermint can help due to its natural menthol content. The menthol in peppermint has been shown to help shrink swollen membranes inside your nasal passages and loosen and bring up mucus from the lungs.
- Nausea- Another health benefit of peppermint is that it is often used to soothe the stomach for people who have an upset stomach from certain medical conditions. Oftentimes, patients who are undergoing chemotherapy experience episodes of serious nausea and vomiting. Some studies have suggested that peppermint can have a profound effect on reducing the intensity and number of nausea-related events in cancer patients. Many cancer patients choose to opt for natural relief such as peppermint to aid in their nausea. Peppermint oil can also be used for natural relief for nausea caused by other conditions, such as pregnancy nausea. However, this is still undergoing research to evaluate its effectiveness.
- Digestive Conditions- irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most commonly seen digestive conditions in the U.S, with approximately 10 to 15% of the U.S population impacted. Several studies have documented a positive association between peppermint oil and the relief of symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, such as bloating, abdominal pain, or gas. Many people with IBS choose to try enteric-coated peppermint capsules, which are capsules that are specifically designed with a protective coating that allows the peppermint oil to transit through the stomach to the small intestine before it is released.
For those with general indigestion, peppermint oil may also be effective in calming the stomach during flare-ups. This may be because of peppermint oils’ ability to improve the flow of bile and calm stomach muscles. However, check with your doctor before trying peppermint capsules if you have GERD, as peppermint oil can worsen symptoms in people with specific digestive conditions.
- Headaches & Migraines- Suffering from chronic headaches that just don’t seem to go away? Give peppermint oil a try as a natural remedy for headache and migraine relief. While still fairly new research, some studies have shown that peppermint oil can help encourage relaxation of the smooth muscles in your forehead to help relieve tension headaches. One interesting study even showed that peppermint oil may even be as effective as Tylenol for pain relief associated with headaches.
From relief of digestive problems to encouraging healthy skin, peppermint oil has a wide variety of important health benefits. Try incorporating peppermint into your wellness routine today to see for yourself some of its amazing holistic benefits! Plus the added benefit of minty fresh breath!
Dr. Casey Sinclair, D.C. is a leading holistic healthcare doctor trained in functional medicine. He has extended his reach around the world by co-founding Family Health Advocacy, a health advocacy group lead by doctors and health professionals providing resources and education on global health matters. He has been fortunate to act as health a consultant to some of the largest companies in North America and as a professional speaker he’s had the privilege of speaking to thousands of people. Dr. Casey is an advocate for people suffering with chronic pain and fibromyalgia and has authored a book on the subject.