3 Surprising Health Benefits of Peppermint

From toothpaste to chewing gum, peppermint (also known as Mentha Piperita), is best known for its breath-freshening properties.  It’s a hybrid of water mint and spearmint and – due to its high menthol content – peppermint is more punchy than its relatives. In fact, menthol is responsible for many of the lesser-known health benefits of peppermint tea and oil, including fighting hayfever, soothing headaches and relieving IBS. Get ready to dust off your unloved peppermint tea and essential oils, read on for the health benefits of peppermint…

1. Peppermint may reduce hayfever symptoms

Though we associate hot drinks with the cooler months, the health benefits of peppermint tea can prove useful as the temperature rises. When hayfever hits hard, peppermint can provide some much-needed relief as menthol – the main chemical component in peppermint – is an effective decongestant. This means it can help to soothe sniffles, shrink swollen membranes in the nose and aid easy breathing, both day and night.

Try it at home:

To make a hayfever fighting vapour rub, mix ten drops of peppermint oil with three teaspoons of coconut oil.

Discover more of our hayfever-fighting strategies…

2. Peppermint is a natural painkiller

The high menthol content in peppermint oil creates a cooling and slightly numbing sensation that can act as an effective, natural painkiller. When applied directly to the skin it can help to soothe and distract attention from aches and pains. Peppermint is also a muscle relaxant, which can help to simultaneously tackle the root cause of tension headaches and migraines while relieving symptoms.

Try it at home:

When a headache strikes, rub one or two drops of peppermint essential oil, mixed into a little olive or coconut oil as a base, onto the temples and back of the neck.

Did you know that headaches can be a symptom of perimenopause and menopause? Our tell-all article explains why.

3. Peppermint tea may aid digestion

1 in 8 people are thought to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the UK. Though patients are often prescribed antispasmodic drugs and advised to increase their fibre intake, a high-quality meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal deemed that peppermint oil might be a helpful treatment alternative. In fact, while only 1 in 5 patients found relief using anti-spasmodic drugs and just 1 in 11 from increased fibre intake, almost half of the study participants saw improvements in symptoms after ingesting peppermint oil.

Try it at home:

Struggling with bloating or abdominal cramps? Drink warm peppermint tea with meals and, for best results, add one or two drops of food-grade peppermint oil. The recommended daily dosage is 0.2ml.

For more IBS wisdom, listen to our enlightening podcast with health writer and nutritionist, Laura Tilt.

By Ellie Smith