'Tis the Season for Peppermint!
With long winter nights approaching us, we look forward to curling up next to a warm, cozy fire with a good book to read and something hot to drink. Now, what if that drink not only tasted warm and comforting but also provide you with some health benefits? Talk about best of both worlds! Peppermint tea may be something to try this holiday season, and here’s why:
The peppermint plant’s leaves and oil have been used for a long time in traditional medicine practices. The plant’s oil is primarily comprised of menthol, which provides us with the cooling sensation that we feel on the tip of our tongue every time we taste peppermint. The leaves contain a variety of phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, which are primarily responsible for the health benefits we receive from the tea form of peppermint.
For health purposes, peppermint is most commonly consumed as a tea, but may also be consumed in supplement or oil forms. If drinking in the way of the latter two, use caution, as supplements and essential oils are not regulated for safety by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Research on peppermint tea suggests it to be beneficial towards soothing an upset stomach. This is because it helps to slow the movement of the stomach muscles when digesting food, which may reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting. The flavonoid content of peppermint leaves has been found to promote bone health and protect against the development of long-term diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Peppermint has also been shown to improve symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, the studies done with human subjects have used peppermint oil, not tea. Therefore, more human studies need to be conducted further on the direct effects of peppermint tea with managing IBS symptoms.
While peppermint has been shown to have multiple health benefits, some people may want to take caution when consuming peppermint; notably people with heartburn. They should be careful because peppermint allows the gastroesophageal sphincter (circular muscle connecting the esophagus to the stomach) to become relaxed, which allows acid reflux to be more likely to occur and cause the unpleasant feeling of heartburn. In that case, ginger may be more appropriate for soothing a stomach ache.
For everyone else, peppermint can be an enjoyable and healthful thing. Below, you’ll find a delicious chocolate peppermint tea recipe to try.
Chocolate Mint Tea Recipe
1 tsp. peppermint tea leaves (or one tea bag)
1 tsp. cocoa powder
2-3 tsp. honey
6 oz. hot water
6 oz. hot milk
Stir peppermint leaves into hot water and let steep for five minutes. Strain into mug
Add cocoa powder and honey. I’ve never had any trouble getting cocoa powder to dissolve into hot water, but if you have any doubts, go ahead and combine it with the honey first.
Stir in milk. For the lactose intolerant, you can sub more water for the milk, or a dairy-free milk such as almond milk.
Recipe by The Frugal Farm Wife at http://www.frugalfarmwife.com/article/chocolate-mint-tea/
“Bulking Agents, Antispasmodics and Antidepressants for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel
Syndrome.” Wiley, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 10 Aug. 2011, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003460.pub3/full
Escott-Stump, Sylvia. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 8th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2015.
Grotto, David W. The Best Things You Can Eat: for Everything from Aches to Zzzz, the Definitive
Guide to the Nutrition-Packed Foods That Energize, Heal, and Help You Look Great. Da Capo Lifelong, a Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2013
“Peppermint Oil.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, 1 Dec. 2016, nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermintoil.