Did you know that peppermint was a favorite herbal medicine in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome?
In fact, peppermint leaves have been found in Egyptian pyramids dating back to 1,000 BC.
A member of the aromatic mint family that you may already have stored away in your pantry, you may know of peppermint as a flavoring agent, or perhaps as something that goes into a comforting cup of herbal tea.
However, very few people are aware of peppermint’s wide range of experimentally confirmed health benefits.
Peppermint is actually a hybridized cross between water mint and spearmint - and the latter is also known to have remarkable health benefits.
Modern science shows that peppermint benefits gut health in many ways:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - it was discovered in the late 90s that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules were both safe and effective in the treatment of IBS, including in children.
- In one trial, 75% of children receiving peppermint oil had reduced severity of pain associated with IBS within 2 weeks
- A 2005 trial in adults concluded that ‘peppermint oil may be the drug of first choice in IBS patients with non-serious constipation or diarrhea to alleviate general symptoms and to improve quality of life’
- In a 2007 trial, 75% of patients receiving peppermint oil saw an impressive 50% reduction in their total IBS score, and
- A January 2014 study found that peppermint oil effectively relieved abdominal pain in diarrhea-predominant IBS.
- Colonic spasms - peppermint oil has been shown to be both a safe and effective alternative to standard drugs for its ability to reduce spasms during barium enemas.
- Gastric emptying disorders - peppermint speeds up gastric emptying, indicating a possible use in the clinic for patients with gut disorders.
- Functional dyspepsia - a 2000 study found that 90 mg of peppermint oil and 50 mg of caraway oil resulted in 67% of patients reporting ‘much or very much improved’ in their symptoms of functional dyspepsia.
- Infantile colic - a 2013 study found that peppermint is at least as effective as standard therapies in the treatment of infantile colic.
Like all plant medicines, you must be careful when using extracts and essential oils of peppermint. More is not always better.
For instance, a recent study on the use of rosemary in improving cognitive performance in the elderly found that a lower dose (750 mg) was very effective in improving memory recovery. However, the highest dose (6,000 mg) had a significant memory impairing effect.
This is why an occasional nightly cup of relaxing peppermint tea may be a far better option for maintaining your gut health rather than taking large doses of peppermint after a serious gut problem has already set in.
Source: The Power of Peppermint, Revealed.