Peppermint is available in many forms, from the fresh and aromatic herb growing in your garden, to capsules, oils, and tinctures available at your local pharmacy. This plant has been a popular medicine and food for years.
Health benefits of peppermint
The menthol in peppermint gives it that crisp flavour and has many health benefits. Importantly, there is no menthol in spearmint, which is often confused for peppermint. Peppermint is useful for treating:
Peppermint is useful for treating and alleviating the symptoms of various gastric intestinal complaints. This is because the pungent oil is a powerful relaxant, and can help to relieve stomach cramps. It also helps to reduce flatulence, as well as relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint is used in over-the-counter antacids because it assists in healthy digestion by stimulating the flow of digestive juices, and eases bloating. Peppermint for stomach complaints is best taken orally in a capsule, because it releases the menthol in the bowels, where it is most needed.
Peppermint provides a tasty and natural remedy for bad breath. It is useful when put into food to aid in digestion, as well as keeping the breath fresh. Chew a few fresh leaves, or put a few drops of peppermint oil on your tongue.
•Nausea and motion sickness
Peppermint has the ability to soothe the lining of the stomach, reducing the effects of nausea and motion sickness. It is best taken as a fresh tea, rather than chewed in this instance. Dowse a few fresh leaves in hot water and leave to steep for a few moments, covered. Strain and drink.
Primarily as a result of the relaxing effects of peppermint, it is also a very good remedy for aches and pains. Diluted peppermint oil, or fresh peppermint ground fine with a pestle and mortar, rubbed on to the affected area will relieve pain. Peppermint is also effective in treating headaches, by rubbing it on the temples and forehead.
Studies have shown that peppermint relieves coughs and soothes sore throats. Peppermint is often added to cough syrups to improve the flavour, but they also act to calm the cough reflex. A few drops of peppermint oil, or a few fresh ground leaves in boiling water, produce a minty vapour, that when inhaled, provides relief from coughs. Peppermint tea has also been reported to reduce the tightness in the chest associated with asthma.
The fresh herb, whether crushed and inhaled or eaten, eaten whole, or rubbed on the skin, does not have any side effects. However, peppermint oil can cause headaches, dizziness, heartburn, or muscle tremors when ingested. Rubbed onto the skin it can cause rash, or mouth and eye irritation. Always use supplements in the recommended dosage to prevent side effects.
In addition to being delicious and smelling great, this hardy little herb has many uses in your medicine cabinet.
Peppermint grows easily and has many interesting variants. So start growing and using peppermint today!