~ Natural Health, March 2003, Vol. 33, Issue 2
Some Amazing Properties
- Relieves gas and bloating
- Eases Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Combats nausea
- Eases headaches
- Anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory
- Fights bad breath
Peppermint was highly valued by the Greeks and Romans, and was found in Egyptian pyramids dating back to 1000 BC. Its main value lies in its ability to relieve gas, bloating and colic, but has many other applications as well.
The Magic of Peppermint Up Close
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): a 2007 Italian study showed that 75% of patients who took peppermint oil capsules for 4 weeks had a big reduction in IBS symptoms. 38% of those taking a placebo had a similar effect. 1
- Nausea: ancient Egyptian and Chinese herbalists used many types of mint to treat digestive issues and nausea, and over the past 300 years herbalists have been using peppermint to treat irritable gut and nausea. It’s especially popular in treating morning sickness. 2
- Tension headache: a 1995 placebo controlled study found peppermint essential oil rubbed into the forehead relaxes muscles and pain of tension headaches. Make sure to mix pure essential oil with a carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil, before applying directly to skin. 3
- Anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory: about 50% of the essential oil is composed of menthol, which dilates blood vessels and has a cooling effect. Studies have found that menthol is an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agent. 4, 5, 6
- Gas and colic: peppermint is excellent for overall digestive health, as it increase the digestive juices flow and relaxes muscles of the gut, which helps soothe gas and colic. 5
- Bad breath: peppermint is quite effective at fighting halitosis due to its anti-microbial and anti-septic5 qualities, and that’s one reason it’s in so many toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Where Do I Get Peppermint?
- Most groceries sell peppermint tea, but usually in bags. Loose leaf organic tea is better as it’s more flavorful, often fresher and less oxidized because the leaves are not as crushed. Ideally buy an
organic tea, which can be found in specialty stores or health food stores and of course online.
- Essential oil of peppermint can likewise be found at specialty or health food stores and online. I usually use Aura Cacia 100% Pure Essential Oil as they are always fresh and have a pure product line. Remember to combine with a carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil, before applying directly to skin, and do not give to infants or small children, as they could have an allergic reaction.
People with heartburn should avoid peppermint oil, as it relaxes the sphincter muscle which prevents stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus.
1 Harvard Health Publications, Health benefits of peppermint http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/HEALTHbeat_073107.htm
2 Tate, S., “Peppermint oil: a treatment for postoperative nausea,” J Adv Nurs (1997), 26(3):543-49
3 Göbel, H., et al., “Essential plant oils and headache mechanisms,” Phytomedicine (1995), 2(2):93-102
4 Health Journal, Peppermint http://www.bodyandfitness.com/Information/Herbal/Research/peppermint.htm
5 “Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine” Andrew Chevalier, FNIMH, 2000
6 “The Herbal Drugstore” Linda B. White, M.D., Steven Foster, and the Staff of Herbs for Health, 2000