Few plants will grow more happily, even in poor conditions, than members of the mint family. Mint is widely used as a flavoring and can add a refreshing coolness to a pitcher of water in the summer or a cup of hot tea in the winter.
Besides being used to flavor recipes and drinks, mint is also often used in herbal medicine for its many beneficial properties. Peppermint, especially, is a staple herb that’s used in teas, tinctures, and more.
And because many people enjoy the taste of peppermint, it’s often used to mask the flavor of less pleasant herbs. Here are four peppermint benefits to take advantage of, plus two simple peppermint tea recipes and other ways to use it!
Peppermint is actually a cross between spearmint and water mint. It was first cultivated as a hybrid in England in the 17th century and now grows across Europe, Asia, and North America.
Its use as an herb dates back to ancient times and specifically to Ancient Egypt where the leaves were used as far back as 1000 BC as a remedy for indigestion. (1) The Greeks and Romans also made use of peppermint and it continues to be a popular choice for herbalists in modern times.
Peppermint is very easy to grow and is found in many backyard gardens. In fact, it can be a little too easy to grow and is often best kept to containers to prevent it from spreading all over.
This versatile herb has many beneficial properties, but here are four key benefits and uses for peppermint.
Anti-Nausea and Digestive Aid
Peppermint is probably used most often to effectively relieve nausea and calm other symptoms of indigestion. It is an antispasmodic herb, which helps the muscles in the digestive tract to relax and calms cramping and spasms.
Peppermint can be used to help with morning sickness, motion sickness, gas, indigestion, and general stomachache.
There is also more research being done on peppermint’s ability to help with symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Enteric coated peppermint oil, in particular, is showing promise for treating patients living with IBS.
One study found that the majority of a group of patients who were treated for four weeks with two peppermint capsules a day noticed an improvement in their IBS symptoms, which included reduced abdominal bleeding, abdominal pain/discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation. (2)
Naturally Boosts Energy Levels and Mental Alertness
The invigorating and refreshing nature of peppermint also means that it can naturally improve physical and mental energy levels without depleting or using up energy reserves. (Gladstar. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, pg. 184)
Even just inhaling the scent of freshly crushed peppermint leaves or a bottle of peppermint oil can help to boost energy, concentration, and mental alertness. Adding crushed peppermint leaves to cold water is another way to benefit from its energizing properties.
This “green energy” herb may also help to improve exercise/athletic performance (3) and is often used with adaptogenic herbs like holy basil to restore and rejuvenate the body over time.
Headache and Pain-Relieving
Peppermint also has pain-relieving properties (technically known as anodyne properties) that are especially helpful at relieving headache pain.
Peppermint tea can help to relieve a headache from stress or tension and also help with one that comes from indigestion. Peppermint oil is another way to get effective relief. It can be diluted and applied to the back of the neck for a tension headache or applied to the temples (avoiding the eyes).
In fact, one study found that peppermint oil (at a 10% preparation) applied topically was just as effective at reducing headache pain as acetaminophen with no adverse side effects. (4)
It also seems to be useful for muscle and joint pain. This can be done by applying diluted peppermint oil on location or by making a strong peppermint tea with the leaves and adding it to a warm bath (preferably with Epsom salts).
Skin Health and Sunburn Relief
Another of the benefits of peppermint is its ability to support scalp health, soothe itchy skin, and even be used as a natural sunburn remedy.
Peppermint oil is used in many hair care products, including ones to thicken hair, nourish damaged hair, and combat dandruff. In an animal study, peppermint oil was found to effectively thicken hair. (5)
The oil or a preparation using the leaves can also help to soothe itchy skin and support overall skin health. A study done on pregnant women with pruritus (itchy skin condition), also known as PUPPS, showed that a treatment of peppermint oil and sesame oil significantly reduced the severity of itchiness compared to the placebo group. (6)
The cooling nature of menthol (a primary constituent of peppermint) and its pain-relieving properties are also useful for soothing and healing the skin after sunburn.
Peppermint is a very safe herb without known harmful side effects. Occasionally, peppermint and other mints can cause an upset stomach. If you are breastfeeding, peppermint can lower your milk supply as well.
When using peppermint oil, or any essential oils, they should always be properly diluted and carefully applied so that it does not get in the eyes or other sensitive areas.
Ways to Use + Simple Tea Recipes
Peppermint can be used in many different forms including as a tea, in a tincture, as an essential oil, and in capsules. One of the easiest ways to use peppermint is to make a tea out of the fresh or dried leaves.
Peppermint-Chamomile Tea: To make a tea for upset stomach and indigestion, mix one part dried peppermint leaf and to two parts dried chamomile flowers. Use 1-2 tablespoons of this mixture and add 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 5-15 minutes and drink warm before or after meals or as needed. Don't forget to check out our blog post on tea tips too.
Peppermint-Holy Basil Tea: To restore energy, mix two parts of dried peppermint leaf to one part dried holy basil (also known as tulsi). Add 1-2 tablespoons to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes and drink as needed.
Sunburn relief: Dilute a few drops of peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil, aloe vera gel, or raw honey and apply to the area of skin that is burned. Lavender essential oil can be added for extra relief.
Hair rinse: To soothe the scalp, support hair growth, and help with dandruff, make a strong cup of peppermint tea infusing for 30 minutes and use it as a hair rinse. Nettle leaf can be used along with the peppermint for added benefits.
Ease headaches: A cup of peppermint tea can help with a headache. For a stronger remedy, try the Headache Releaf Tea blend that combines peppermint with other soothing herbs.
Discover the Benefits of Peppermint for Yourself!
Whether you want to use it to relieve muscle tension, to restore your energy, or to calm your digestion, peppermint is a powerful herb with many health benefits.
It’s easy to grow and can also be purchased dried. The next time you have an upset stomach or a headache, try a cup of peppermint tea!