Peppermint is two herbs in one, a cross between water mint and my favorite mint, spearmint. The common taste and smell you know from things like breath mints and soap come from the essential oil found inside the plant, but who knew there were so many health benefits of peppermint.
1,00’s of years ago the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians used mints, including peppermint, as a type of medicine. While peppermint thrived all of these years ago, it wasn’t officially recognized until the late 17th century. That’s a long history.
How Do You Take Peppermint?
Concentrated peppermint oil comes in capsules and liquids. You can apply it to your skin or take it by mouth. It’s highly concentrated, so only use it in a diluted form or a few drops at a time. It can be toxic to take a lot of the oil at once.
How Toxic Is Peppermint?
Many essential oils can be toxic at excessive dosages, including camphor, wintergreen, sandalwood, sage, lavender, clove, and cinnamon. Menthol is the ingredient in peppermint oil that can be poisonous in large amounts.
Consult a doctor if you have questions about consuming peppermint. Remember toxicity is largely dependent on concentration. Even Oxygen is toxic at high levels!
Benefits of Peppermint
Soothes An Upset Stomach
Peppermint has compounds that relax the tissues in GI tracts. A few studies have shown peppermint, and other herbal medicines, can ease stomach pain but before doctors can recommend it needs more research. Some studies show peppermint may help relieve nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.
Can Treat Symptoms of IBS
Studies suggest that coated peppermint oil capsules will ease the side effects of irritable bowel syndrome like gas, stomach pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
Helps with Headaches
As stated, the active ingredient in peppermint is menthol which some studies show can lessen the pain of migraine headaches. It may also reduce other symptoms like light sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. Other studies even suggest that applying a peppermint oil solution to your forehead and temples can help take away tension headaches, too.
Kills Germs In Your Mouth
It’s not just the peppermint flavor that freshens your breath, it has antibacterial properties believed to kill the germs causing bad breath. It can also form a protective film on your pearly whites, which helps keep them healthy.
Ease Stuffy Noses
Peppermint’s antimicrobial powers may help you fight off the common cold or the infected mucus that sets up shop in your sinuses as a result. The menthol can also make you feel that you can breathe more easily.
Boost Energy Levels
If you want to feel more awake during the day, peppermint oil might do the trick. Experts aren’t quite sure what happens in your body when you smell peppermint oil, but it may help ease sleepiness during waking hours (probably the menthol).
Relieve Menstrual Cramps
While it doesn’t affect the amount of blood loss, the menthol in peppermint – do you see a trend here? – can ease the intensity and shorten the length of period pain in some women.
Battle Foodborne Bacteria
Scientists have tested peppermint oil on bacteria like E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. They found that it can stop all three from growing! It has also shown an ability to kill Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria, that causes skin infections, pneumonia, meningitis, and more.
Reduce Appetite Urges
Research is ongoing, but some studies have shown peppermint oil may make you feel less hungry. This can help you eat less and possibly lead to weight loss.
Aids Seasonal Allergies
Believe it or not, peppermint can help you enjoy the outdoors when it’s allergy season. It has a compound called rosmarinic acid that can lower your body’s histamine reaction which can lead to fewer symptoms like an irritated, stuffy nose, sneezing, and red, itchy eyes.
Sharpens Your Mind
In a small study, capsules of peppermint oil helped people process problems longer without getting mentally tired. The herb’s sharp smell may also boost your memory and keep you extra alert.
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