Peppermint is one of those herbs you can almost instantly smell and taste when you think of it. You may be reminded of those mints you get at a restaurant after a meal or even your morning toothpaste, but we associate the scent and flavor of peppermint with being fresh and clean.
This is a spot-on association, especially when it comes to your digestion. Peppermint has great benefits for the digestive system, helping reduce everything from nausea to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Peppermint Oil and Digestion
The specific components of peppermint (Mentha piperita) that are beneficial for the digestive system are menthol and flavonoids. Menthol calms muscle spasms within the digestive system and encourages the flow of bile. Flavonoids can control the release of certain digestive enzymes, slowing down digestion to prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. These compounds can be beneficial for anyone suffering from digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, bloating/gas, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation.
A study published in the medical journal Digestive and Liver Disease in 2007 found patients who took peppermint oil daily for four weeks saw more than a 50 percent reduction in symptoms of IBS.
Women who are pregnant can also use peppermint to counteract the effects of morning sickness. It's recommended they use peppermint oil for aromatherapy, instead of ingesting it, to get this benefit.
How to Use Peppermint Oil
Improving your digestion means your body is better able to absorb the nutrients it needs from the foods you consume and expel the waste and toxins that can make you sick. There are many ways to enjoy peppermint for this purpose. You can add peppermint leaves to water with citrus or even cucumber, let infuse and sip throughout the day. Peppermint tea is also available as well as peppermint oil in liquid and softgel form. Aromatherapy is also a popular option, as previously mentioned.
As with any supplement, it's important to speak with your doctor before using peppermint as a daily supplement, especially if you've been diagnosed with a medical condition, especially one involving the digestive system. Those with GERD, or gastroesophageal disease, shouldn't use peppermint supplements, as they can worsen symptoms.
Other Uses for Peppermint
If you're suffering with a cold or other respiratory issue, like a sinus infection, peppermint has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, astringent, decongestant and expectorant properties to help relieve symptoms like sore throat, cough and congestion. Peppermint oil is a also a common ingredient in natural bug repellents. It's analgesic effects (painkiller) are also helpful for combating minor injuries, like bruises or sore muscles and headaches. The fragrance is helpful for relieving pain and the oil also creates a warming sensation when applied to the skin.
Expanding on the idea of peppermint for aromatherapy, you can add peppermint oil to bath and body care products like shampoo and conditioner to purify the hair while allowing you to enjoy the invigorating scent.
When using peppermint oil in liquid form, follow instructions carefully to make sure the oil is diluted properly before being applied to the skin. The oil can irritate the skin if not cut with a carrier oil.
Find a wide selection of peppermint oil products at eVitamins today and see how this herb can help you live a healthier life with less digestive issues.