Surprising Uses for Peppermint This Winter

Winter is coming, and with it, snowmen, Christmas trees, gingerbread, cookies, hot cocoa, and candy canes. While candy canes come in all varieties and shapes and sizes these days, the classic will always be the striped peppermint candy canes. Interestingly enough, some studies performed over the past few years are shedding some light on what good peppermint might do your body.

Not too long ago, Dr. Oz mentioned to his viewers that peppermint oil may be effective for a condition called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a condition characterized by bloating, abdominal pain, and bowel irregularity. Usually, episodes of IBS are triggered by life stressors. As it turns out, in 2005 there were some studies done which showed that peppermint oil capsules are more effective than no treatment for IBS, and may even be as effective as some prescription medications for helping with the symptoms of IBS. Specifically, enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules seem to have the most effect on alleviating symptoms.

In addition to the effects on IBS, it turns out peppermint oil might also help with indigestion. In 2008, a study was done which suggested that peppermint tea (which has peppermint oil in it) may help with indigestion. Also, since peppermint tea doesn’t have any known side effects, there is not any reason not to try using tea to help.

In addition to helping with indigestion, peppermint tea is delicious, which is always a good thing! Or, if you don’t like tea, it is possible to just add a drop or two of peppermint oil to other beverages such as hot chocolate for a tasty treat that will help with indigestion. So after that holiday dinner, when the indigestion sets in, just remember that mug of peppermint tea and curl up by the fire for a cozy evening that will soon be indigestion free!

Written by Greg Tallman, PharmD Candidate, Drake University

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