Peppermint, the Magical Remedy
When we think about peppermint, we think toothpaste, delectable Christmas candies, and of course our all-time favorite ice cream flavor. But aside from our love for its refreshing taste, did you know that peppermint has many science-backed health benefits?
Native to the Middle East and Europe, the hybrid of spearmint and watermint has become increasingly popular in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, aromatherapy, teas, and even food recipes. With its strong antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties, peppermint is nature’s godsend gift to mankind. It is no wonder the invigorating herb has been embraced by many cultures as a medicinal remedy.
Benefit #1: Soothing Tummy Woes
Feeling a little pudgy from uncomfortable gas or indigestion? Peppermint is known for its effect on soothing symptoms in the digestive tract ranging from bloating to abdominal pain. Backed by multiple clinical studies, the herb has been evidently proven to produce positive results as a medicinal herb.
When a child is sick, most parents would hope to avoid administering drugs as much as possible due to its association with side effects. Natural remedies are often deemed the safer choice, which makes peppermint the ideal choice for children. In fact, a recent review of 14 clinical trials done on the effects of the herb in 1,927 children and adolescents with gastrointestinal disorders have shown to reduce the severity, length, and frequency of abdominal pain.
In addition, peppermint is especially effective in the symptomatic treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A total of 9 studies involving 726 patients on peppermint oil have shown to deliver a significant improvement in IBS symptoms and abdominal pain. The herb has also been shown to reduce gut spasms which in which its application would be particularly useful for patients undergoing endoscopic procedures known to cause the symptom. It is also recommended for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as it has been proven to ease the severity of nausea and vomiting.
Benefit #2: Quelling the Sniffles
Allergy season can be a nightmare, but peppermint might just be your salvation. Combating the cold and clogged sinuses with its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, a warm cup of peppermint tea might just do the trick.
Research shows that menthol from peppermint has the potential in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, colitis, and bronchial asthma. Its expectorant properties can also help to clear out the respiratory tract and relax muscles in the nasal passages.
Benefit #3: Easing Pains
Peppermint is a pain reliever and muscle relaxant. On a study done on 35 patients, evidence proved that it has anesthetic and analgesic effects in the peripheral and central nervous system. This means that it can be a safe and therapeutic alternative to medicine in the treatment of migraines and particularly tension-type headaches.
Of course, its wonderful painkiller properties do not stop there. The herb can also provide relief with conditions associated with myofascial and fibromyalgia pains. In women, peppermint is found to help alleviate menstrual cramps and heal the painful, cracked skin of mothers who breastfeed.
Benefit #4: The Energy Booster
Feeling a little tired from a late night? A couple of peppermint whiffs may improve your energy levels and get you back on track for the day. A research study done shows that the herb can indeed reduce daytime sleepiness and increase alertness. It is certainly a healthier alternative to caffeine or sugar-rich energy drinks.
Studies have also proven peppermint’s positive results in improving memory and increasing physical performance. The inhalation of peppermint helps to combat mental fatigue and increases attention span. In fact, it might just be the perfect booster to help students focus in school for extended periods of time.
The Contraindications of Peppermint
Peppermint is 100% natural. But just like everything in life, anything in excess is not always ideal. Although deemed likely safe, it is possible for enteric-coated peppermint oil to cause side effects such as anal burning in cases of diarrhea. Large amounts are also not recommended for those who are pregnant and in individuals with achlorhydria. A significant overdose of peppermint concentrate might also cause acute renal failure. Of course, when taken in the right amounts, you will be able to enjoy the potential health benefits without having to worry about the adverse side effects.
Certain medications are known to interact with the herb and are therefore not recommended for combined applications. When in doubt, it is always best to stop your intake and check with your health provider. Some interactions include the below:
Enteric-coated peppermint can induce heartburn and nausea due to a decreased amount of stomach acids caused by medication for gastric problems. It is best to avoid taking peppermint when you are on any H2-blockers, proton pump inhibitors or antacids.
Examples of such drugs are not limited to ranitidine, nizatidine, famotidine and cimetidine
Medications broken down or changed by the liver can present increased side effects as peppermint can affect the speed of liver metabolism.
Examples of such drugs are not limited to Ibuprofen, itraconazole, triazolam, warfarin, omeprazole, and diazepam.
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