Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is an herb common in many parts of the world. Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use in many cultures around the world. Today, it is a popular food flavoring for ice cream, toothpaste, chewing gums and candies.
Peppermint tea is made from freshly dried leaves of the plant which contain several bioactive compounds like menthol, eucalyptol and 1,8-cineol and others that have profound medicinal effects, according to research. It is primarily known for its calming effect on the body. People with conditions like depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks may find drinking peppermint tea good in relieving their symptoms.
Effects on Digestion
Peppermint produces profound effect on the digestive system. Taken internally, it relaxes smooth muscles in the stomach, valves and intestines. It slows rapid peristalsis, and improves flow of bile into the gut, which makes it useful for debilitating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), flatulence and dyspepsia. Peppermint tea slows down erratic stomach movements in some people with IBS. It also relaxes intestinal valves and musculature, enabling easy passage of gasses and permitting inflamed areas some respite.
Peppermint tea is also good to relieve symptoms of colds and flu. It eases the airways to permit better passage of air in congested nasal passages. It also helps thins down thick mucus to help loosen phlegm and eliminate it more effectively. Menthol can help temporarily dull nerves responsible for cough reflex, which is helpful in case of dry cough.
For Skin and Respiratory Problems
Used externally (like soaking towels in it), peppermint tea produces a cooling relaxing effect that helps alleviate irritation from insect bites and hives. It also helps relieve pain from sore muscles and spasms. When applied on the head and temples (like sort of a head cap), it is effective in reducing discomfort from headache.
Contraindications of Peppermint Tea
Because peppermint tea has medicinal properties, it may not be recommended for certain conditions. People with conditions like GERD should not take peppermint tea or its products, as it may exacerbate acid reflux. People with glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, have allergy to menthol or similar products should also avoid taking peppermint tea. Peppermint tea and products should not be used in cases of ongoing inflammation in stomach or intestine.
Peppermint tea should never be used in infants or young children. Other contraindications include impaired liver function and gall bladder problems. You may need to visit your doctor first before taking peppermint tea for medical conditions.
Preparing Peppermint Tea
Creating peppermint tea is easy. Gather fresh leaves and wash them first, tear into smaller pieces then air-dry for at least 24 hours until crunchy. To make tea, use 1 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiled water. Steep or soak dried leaves in freshly boiled water for 10 minutes, then strain and cool.
Peppermint tea is preferably taken between meals, 4 to 5 times per day.