Peppermint tea has been consumed for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years. In fact, it may be one of the first teas humans ever consumed, praised for its soothing qualities and its ability to alleviate the symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, including indigestion.
But what does the science have to say about the health benefits and the side effects, and how should it be brewed?
Main Health Benefits of Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is often prescribed as an over-the-counter cure for indigestion and smooch upsets. There are a wealth of studies suggesting that it really does work to rid you of indigestion, acting almost immediately to soothe the stomach and calm it following a meal.
However, it’s important to separate this benefit, which is legitimate, from its apparent ability to cure acid reflux, which is not. In many cases, peppermint tea can make acid reflux worse, although it depends on the individual and the reason behind the reflux symptoms.
Peppermint tea can also help to soothe gas. It is thought to do this by increasing the secretion of bile and hastening the digestive process. By reducing the amount of time that the food spends in the stomach, it can reduce the build-up of gas and can stop the symptoms of indigestion.
Peppermint tea may also be effective at treating symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, better known by the abbreviation IBS. Peppermint oil has actually been prescribed for this disorder and studies have shown it to have many positive effects, with three quarters of patients tested experiencing a 50% reduction in the severity of symptoms.
Gastric ulcers and other digestive discomfort may also be soothed by peppermint tea. It seems to work wonders in the stomach and the digestive tract and is a true miracle substance when it comes to stomach disorders and general discomfort.
Other Health Benefits of Peppermint Tea
One of the stranger but more promising heath benefits of peppermint tea is the potential that it has as a pain killer. Millions of Americans are struggling with chronic pain and with the addictive medicines that are prescribed to cure them, so any time there is a side effect free herbal alternative a lot of people get their hopes up.
And those hopes might just stay up, because studies have shown that peppermint tea can increase the pain threshold. A member of the mint family was actually found to be as effective of a painkiller as an over-the-counter synthetic drug when it was consumed as a tea. It may not magically make all pain go away, but as an addition to other painkilling methods, be they drugs, electrical impulses or therapy, something like this could prove invaluable.
Can Peppermint Tea Cure Colds?
There is no cure for the common cold. There have been a number of claims made about many herbal medicines in this regard, ranging from ginger to licorice. Nothing can cure the common cold, but many teas can help to ease the symptoms and peppermint tea is one of them.
It acts as a powerful decongestant, clearing the airways and thinning out the mucous so that it is easier to expel. There are more effective decongestants on the market, but as an addition to other, natural remedies it could be a great weapon in the fight against colds and flu.
Side Effects of Peppermint Tea
It is possible to be allergic to this tea. If you have an allergy to menthol then you should stay well clear of this herbal tea as it may trigger side effects such as flushing, light headedness and nausea.
It should also be avoided by pregnant women as it is one of the many herbal teas that may cause uterine contractions, which could lead to miscarriage. As scary as that sounds, it’s worth noting that the chances of such a thing happening are very slim, but any risk of such a thing happening is one that you want to avoid at all costs.
If you are otherwise healthy but you are still concerned about trying something new, then just take it easy. Begin with one cup of peppermint tea and if you respond well to it and enjoy it, then you can increase your dose thereafter.
Peppermint tea, like most herbal teas, is loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. One of these compounds is known as rosmarinic acid and has been studied for its ability to relieve many of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, including stuffiness, congestion and more.
Antioxidants can also boost overall health and wellbeing, guarding against many diseases, strengthening the immune system and ensuring the body is better equipped to fight cancer causing free radicals. A diet rich in antioxidants is one of the best ways to prevent chance diseases, which makes products like peppermint tea an essential part of a healthy diet.
How to Brew Peppermint Tea
Now that you have a firm grasp of just what peppermint tea can do for you, you’ll probably want to know how you can brew it. This is one of the most common types of herbal tea on the market, sold by all major tea blend manufacturers and found everywhere from health shops to grocery stores. Sourcing it shouldn’t be a problem, but make sure you get the highest quality organic tea as it always provides a stronger, tastier brew.
Once you have the tea then you need to brew it in boiling water for up to 10 minutes. If you want a stronger tea you can brew it for less, but it will also depend on how much tea is in the infuser or the teabag as some brands aim for a shorter brewing time by adding more leaves to the bag.
Just follow the advice on the packet, sweeten when it is brewed, avoid adding milk, and serve with a garnish of a lemon wedge if you want a little extra acidity to cut through the strong flavors of the tea.
You can drink the tea as and when you feel the onset of indigestion or stomach discomfort, or you can drink it preemptively after a big meal, speeding up digestion and ensuring that those uncomfortable symptoms do not present themselves.