13 Amazing Health Benefits of Peppermint
You might love its fresh scent, but did you know peppermint also has amazing benefits for your health?
Peppermint for extra energy
If you’re feeling lethargic, just the smell of peppermint can mentally perk you up. A study from Wheeling Jesuit University has linked peppermint to greater alertness, performance, and motivation by serving as a central nervous system stimulant. Having a bottle of peppermint oil on hand and sniffing it whenever you’re feeling sluggish may help.
Peppermint for headaches
Rubbing a few drops of peppermint oil on the forehead and temples can ease headache pain in as little as 15 minutes and keep throbbing away for up to an hour. It’s been found to improve circulation and relax muscle tension. Nikki Ostrower, nutritional expert and founder of NAO Wellness, swears by peppermint oil and says it’s the one essential oil she keeps in her bag at all times. “I use it all throughout the day,” says Ostrower. “I put the essential oil on my temples for energy, especially because I’m looking at a computer screen all day. It puts a lot of strain on the eyes and all that electromagnetic energy from the Wi-Fi doesn’t help.”
Peppermint for sinusitis
Menthol is commonly used in over-the-counter medicines for colds and coughs, and it’s also responsible for peppermint’s minty smell. The compound is known to thin mucous and act as a decongestant. Lindsey Goodwin, founder of The Tea Mavens, says just breathing in the steam from peppermint tea can lessen many sinus problems by breaking down phlegm. However, there’s actually little evidence that sniffing peppermint clears nasal passages, but it can’t hurt.
Peppermint for indigestion
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint improves the flow of bile by calming down the muscles of the stomach. Once this happens, food can pass more freely and quickly through the stomach. This can also cut down on gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Peppermint for irritable bowel syndrome
IBS is known to have no cure, but peppermint has shown to effectively treat the syndrome. A study conducted by Italian scientists found that 75 percent of their patients who took peppermint oil capsules for a month showed a 50 percent decrease in IBS symptoms.
Peppermint treats menstrual cramps
Peppermint is always a great source to help ease constricting muscles, especially the muscles in the uterine wall. Goodwin explains that drinking one cup of peppermint tea twice or three times a day leading up to and during menstruation can soothe cramps. The tea guru highly recommends turning to peppermint tea for ailments rather than peppermint oil. “Peppermint oil is incredibly concentrated and is more like a drug than a natural remedy,” explains Goodwin. “Many people who use natural remedies avoid antibiotics, but internal use of peppermint oil is antibacterial…which is exactly what many people want to avoid when they consider their gut health.”
Peppermint works as an anti-inflammatory
Ostrower loves to make a refreshing mint-infused tuna salad, which she says has all the healing benefits of peppermint plus the added benefits of omega-3 rich wild tuna. “It’s a brain food, great for digestion and power anti-inflammatory,” she explains. “And you can get a lot more healing benefits when you combine peppermint with other products.”
The recipe is super easy:
- 1 can of Safe Catch Tuna (Ostrower says people should be more brand sensitive because many tunas are toxic with mercury)
- 1 tsp. crushed mint leaves
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. grated garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Enjoy over a salad or in a wrap.
Peppermint curbs cravings
The Chicago Tribune reports on a study that asked people to smell peppermint oil every two hours. Participants reported not feeling as hungry as people who didn’t take a whiff of peppermint, and they ate 2,800 fewer calories throughout the week. Not only does it keep cravings at bay, but it also helps you feel full faster. Dawn Blatner, RDN, loves having peppermint tea after meals, especially with a piece of dark chocolate. “It helps me savor the chocolate longer, and it’s a great palate cleanser to help signal “doneness” post meals (aka decreases after dinner munchies).”
Peppermint relieves nausea
Peppermint can help control breathing and provide vomiting symptom relief, according to a 2014 study. Once again, its numbing effect relaxes stomach muscles so that bile can break down fats.
Peppermint reduces bad breath
It’s well-known that peppermint oil is just as good as mouthwash, if not better. It naturally freshens your breath and works to reduce cavities. Ostrower says all it takes is one drop of a therapeutic grade of essential oil on the tongue, and you’re set.
Peppermint for muscle pain relief
Peppermint oil acts as a natural painkiller and muscle relaxer. It’s super helpful when it comes to comforting aching backs and sore muscles. This is why some athletes turn to peppermint, explains Blatner. “It can increase alertness and potentially help with performance.” A 2013 study concluded that it’s because the bronchial smooth muscles become relaxed and an increase in brain oxygen concentration occurs.
Incorporate into beauty and skin-care routines
Peppermint is calming and cooling, so when used as a topical cream, it can treat skin conditions including poison ivy, rashes, and hives. It might also be worth it to add to your regular beauty regimen. Peppermint scrubs can add moisture, soften dry skin, and act as a cleanser because of its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Peppermint repels bugs
Say goodbye to those sour smelling bug sprays! Trade it in for some peppermint oil, and you’ll be able to ward off bugs such as ticks, spiders, mosquitoes, ants, and lice.