Peppermint has been used for its medicinal benefits since Ancient Greece and it still plays a role in modern medicine, from its proven benefits as a cure for indigestion to old wives tales that claim it can be used to scare away spiders. But what are the actual benefits—the ones backed by science—of this wild herb and do they apply when it is consumed as a tea?
There have been very few human studies performed on this herbal tea, but we’ve done our research and found a few noteworthy health benefits that are much more than just anecdotal.
Peppermint Tea for Digestion
First-up, it’s the one that everyone knows, or should know: peppermint tea is great for soothing your gastrointestinal tract, easing the symptoms of indigestion and so much more. It is commonly consumed after meals in order to reduce the chances of indigestion occurring and it is very effective at doing this, but the digestive benefits of peppermint tea go much deeper than that.
There is evidence to suggest that peppermint tea can be used to relax spasms of the colon and the oesophagus, which means it is an effective treatment for everything form excessive flatulence to abdominal pains caused by a number of digestive ailments.
If you suffer from regular cramping then you may find some relief in peppermint. However, it’s worth noting that stomach cramps, pains and other discomfort can be the result of many ailments, ranging from the minor to the serious, and while peppermint can alleviate the pain cause by most of these, it will not be effective in all cases.
Peppermint Tea for Inflammation
Peppermint tea can help to reduce inflammation all over the body. Inflammation is the cause of most ailments, ranging from common pains to diseases like cancer. By reducing inflammation when it occurs and consuming something that can keep this problem to a minimum, you can reduce your chances of developing all kinds of diseases.
You can also alleviate pain and discomfort through your body, from your mouth to your gut and your feet. Peppermint is not as potent as anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, of course, but whereas ibuprofen will drastically increase your risk of everything from heart attacks to internal bleeding, stomach ulcers and more, peppermint tea may help to improve your cardiovascular health and improve your gut health, all while still having a positive effect on inflammation and pain.
Peppermint as an AntiViral and AntiBacterial
Peppermint tea and peppermint in general have powerful anti bacterial and antiviral properties, which means that this herbal tea could be an effective treatment against viral and bacterial infections, destroying bad bacteria everywhere from your mouth to your gut.
Of course, these compounds are more useful in something that is used to treat infections outside of the body as you’re not going to cure a common cold simply by drinking a cup of tea that contain antibacterial properties.
But bacteria is winning the war against antibiotics and in a matter of years the human race could be sent back to the dark ages where infections are concerned. Peppermint and compounds like it are important because they offer a potential solution to a problem that could kill all of us. In other words, it could be part of a very important solution and regular consumption will also help to keep your immune system strong.
Peppermint for Overall Health
Peppermint, like most herbal teas, is a powerful antioxidant. This means that it is rich in essential plant-based compounds that can help to eliminate cancer-causing free radicals in the body. That’s not to say that peppermint will prevent or cure cancer, but we do know that a diet rich in antioxidants can reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases such as cancer.
You can get these antioxidants from vegetables, fruits and plants and tea is one of the best ways to boost your daily supply. Peppermint tea does not have the highest amount of antioxidants, that honor would probably go to matcha tea, but it still packs a punch and it can improve your health considerably as a result.
Peppermint Tea for IBS
Staying on the same page, peppermint may also be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that millions of people suffer from all over the world and one that can lead to very painful and very unpleasant side effects, from cramping, pains and gas, to diarrhea and constipation.
A 2014 meta-analysis on the effects of peppermint oil on IBS looked at nine studies and 726 patients, determining that peppermint oil was both a safe and effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, with the benefits of the peppermint oil stemming from the same powerful compounds that also help to reduce stomach cramping and indigestion.
Of course, peppermint oil and peppermint tea are two different things, but the former is basically a concentrated version of the latter and both of them should be able to produce the same effects. Peppermint oil is often used in very small doses, effectively mimicking a cup of peppermint tea in just a few drops. By consuming the tea you will be benefiting in much the same way as if you would consuming the oil, only you’re getting it in a natural, non-concentrated form.
Side Effects of Peppermint Tea
Peppermint may cause irritation to the stomach when consumed excessively, especially if it is consumed on an empty stomach. However, allergens aside it is a well tolerated, very safe tea that produces few to no side effects in the vast majority of people who consume it.
It does contain menthol, however, so you should not give it to children and you should avoid consuming large amounts if you suffer from respiratory problems, as the act of breathing the tea in as you drink it may lead to further problems.
If you have a preexisting condition, you are taking medications, you have an allergy to mint, or you are just worried about your health, then you should consult with a doctor before taking peppermint. This is true of any herbal tea and indeed of any herbal supplement, as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.