The Sweet Health Benefits of Fresh Peppermint

Richie Santucci

by | Read time: 3 minutes

A classic holiday flavor, peppermint is present everywhere this time of year – in your hot cocoa, in festive desserts and, of course, in the iconic red and white twisty canes tucked into your Christmas stockings. In everyday life, we enjoy its taste in toothpaste, candies and gum and mugs of hot tea. But did you know that peppermint offers more than a blast of fresh, crisp, tongue-tingling flavor? That’s right. This herb packs a powerful punch when it comes to health benefits. It’s been used medicinally for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt.

Benefits of Peppermint Represented by Woman Holding White Planter with Fresh Herbs

Peppermint leaves can be plucked right off the plant and enjoyed as is. They’re also used (along with parts of the plant’s flowers) to prepare peppermint essential oil and liquid peppermint extracts. Note that peppermint essential oils may not always be “food grade,” meaning they’re not intended to be ingested but rather used for aromatherapy purposes. Be sure to carefully read packaging before consuming any peppermint oil.

Now, let’s take a stroll down candy lane and see how fresh peppermint might benefit our health.

The Benefits of Peppermint

Promotes healthy digestion

In a review of nine studies, peppermint oil was found to significantly increase the improvement of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms when compared to taking a placebo.

In another review of 14 studies, peppermint oil was found to reduce the duration, frequency and severity of pain in functional abdominal disorders as it has been shown to help calm abdominal muscle spasms that can cause pain.

May provide headache relief

Getting a headache from all the holiday bustle, or just life in general? Topically applying a peppermint oil extract of just 10% in ethanol may help reduce tension headaches for adults and children ages 6 and up according to one study.

Freshens your breath

Chances are you’ve either used or seen some type of peppermint-infused toothpaste or mouthwash, and there is good reason for it. Peppermint has been found to have anti-microbial effects, meaning it can help fight the germs in your mouth that can lead to both tooth decay and bad breath.

May help with seasonal health concerns

One review showed multiple studies illustrating peppermints anti-viral activity including certain strains of the flu. While drinking peppermint tea isn’t guaranteed to ward off illness, it certainly can’t hurt to sip throughout the season as part of your wellness plan.

Provides antioxidant protection

Menthol, which makes up about 40% of peppermint oil, has been shown in studies to demonstrate antioxidant activity. Peppermint also contains antioxidant flavonoids that help protect healthy cells from free radical damage, promoting overall health and wellness.

May help with weight management

One study showed just smelling peppermint oil had an appetite-reducing effect that resulted in weight loss.

Final thoughts on the benefits of peppermint

Peppermint has a long history of medicinal use in many ancient cultures and a growing list of benefits backed by modern research. Remember that its therapeutic properties result from consumption of fresh peppermint leaves or highly concentrated oils. Candies, baked goods and other products that contain mostly sugar likely won’t have the same therapeutic effect.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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