As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge supplement pusher or anything, but when it comes to peppermint I have both witnessed and experienced its healing properties. Peppermint tea is even stocked in pre-partum and post-partum hospital wards to help give pregnant women natural relief for gas pain and bloating. I feel like it’s saying something if western medicine is willing to jump on board the alternative medicine bandwagon.
Peppermint and eucalyptus are great for treating colds because of their astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and expectorant properties. A few sniffs of the essential oil of either or both can really help open things up and thin the mucous in your respiratory tract to help clear things out.
Since going gluten and dairy free this past February, both my boyfriend and I have noticed that an upset stomach seems to be a frequent issue. Odd, right? I thought that getting off the gluten would help calm that all down, but there are some days when things almost feel worse. Peppermint tea is great, but a peppermint tincture works so much better for me it’s like night and day.
Why does it work? Peppermint extract slows down peristalsis (muscle movement of the intestines) which allows the painful gas and bloating to pass more quickly and increased bile production which in turn helps break down fats allowing the food to move through the stomach more quickly thus decreasing gas formation. If you experience frequent heartburn or have gastro-esophogeal reflux (GERD) don’t take peppermint. It relaxes all muscles throughout the gastrointestinal system and will relax the sphincter at the top of your stomach also, which will allow stomach acids to creep up into the esophagus and can cause heartburn.
Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Straight menthol extract is poisonous and must be diluted significantly for safe internal and external use. There are many resources available for the properties of peppermint available online, as iPad apps and in books but a very basic, accurate one is from the University of Maryland Medical Centre. If you’re interested, I’d recommend you check it out.