Medical News Today: Health benefits of peppermint tea
Peppermint is an ingredient in a variety of modern products, including toothpastes, candies, and teas.
Many people drink peppermint tea because they enjoy the taste, but it may also have a number of potential health benefits.
Although there is not much research on peppermint tea itself, researchers have studied some of the oils and other compounds in peppermint leaves, such as menthone, limonene, and menthol.
In this article, we explore some of the potential health benefits of peppermint tea. We also cover how to make fresh peppermint tea at home and risks and considerations.
Peppermint tea may have antibacterial properties.
Peppermint is a popular flavoring due to its clean, pleasant smell and taste. Drinking peppermint tea can help freshen a person’s breath, and it may also have other benefits for fighting bad breath.
For example, a small study from 2017 found that gargling a blend of peppermint, lemon, and tea tree oils helped improved bad breath in participants following spine surgery.
One 2015 review suggests that peppermint oil has antibacterial properties that may help reduce the bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.
Relief from tension headaches
One 2016 study suggested that topical peppermint oil can help alleviate pain and relax muscles.
Menthol has a cooling sensation that may help ease tension or migraine headache pain when a person applies peppermint oil to the forehead or temples.
It is possible that the aroma from peppermint tea may have a similar effect.
Reduced nasal congestion
Another 2016 study suggested that vapors from essential oils, such as peppermint oil, have antibacterial properties that may help alleviate some types of upper respiratory infection.
Inhaling steam and vapors can be helpful for easing nasal congestion from colds and other upper respiratory infections.
Some people find that the vapors from peppermint tea, which contains menthol, also help.
People have long used peppermint as a remedy for digestive issues, such as an upset stomach, bloating, and gas.
One 2017 systematic review found evidence suggesting that taking peppermint oil capsules can help reduce pain in children with a functional abdominal pain disorder.
It is possible that drinking peppermint tea may have a similar effect.
Less painful menstrual cramps
Peppermint tea may help treat menstrual cramps.
Peppermint oil may also help reduce the severity of menstrual cramping, or dysmenorrhea.
One 2016 study investigated the effectiveness of peppermint oil in 127 young women with dysmenorrhea. According to the results of the study, peppermint oil capsules were as effective at relieving menstrual pain as mefenamic acid, which is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
People may also wish to try drinking peppermint tea as a home remedy for menstrual cramping.
The oils in peppermint may also help alleviate symptoms of fatigue and boost energy levels.
In a 2018 study involving 24 people, peppermint oil capsules reduced mental fatigue and improved cognitive functioning compared with a placebo. However, the study was very small, so further research will be necessary to confirm the findings.
Some research has suggested that essential oils from peppermint may help kill harmful bacteria.
For example, one 2018 study found that peppermint oils helped reduce the growth of bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Listeria, and Salmonella in pineapple juice.
However, the peppermint oils were less effective at reducing bacteria when the researchers added them to mango juice.
Also, one 2015 review found evidence to suggest that peppermint oil can help reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth, while one 2013 review concluded that menthol has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Homemade peppermint tea
Peppermint tea bags are widely available in many health and grocery stores. However, people can quickly make fresh peppermint tea at home using only peppermint leaves and hot water.
To make peppermint tea at home:
- Add 2 cups of water to a pot.
- Bring the water to the boil, then turn off the heat.
- Add around four or five torn peppermint leaves to the water.
- Cover the pot and let the leaves steep for 5 minutes, or according to taste.
- Strain the tea into a mug.
A range of peppermint teas are also available to buy online.
How much to drink
It is safe to drink peppermint tea multiple times a day.
A person can drink peppermint tea throughout the day.
Peppermint tea is naturally caffeine-free, which means that it will not keep a person awake at night.
Peppermint tea also contains zero calories, which can make it a great alternative to soda, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks.
However, flavoring the tea with sugar, honey, or cream will add calories to the drink.
Risks and considerations
Peppermint tea is generally very safe for people of all ages to consume. However, some people find that drinking peppermint tea can trigger or worsen symptoms of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
People who are allergic to peppermint or any of the chemicals in peppermint should not drink peppermint tea.
Peppermint tea is a popular herbal tea that is naturally calorie- and caffeine-free.
Some research has suggested that the oils in peppermint may have a number of other health benefits, such as fresher breath, better digestion, and reduced pain from headaches. Peppermint tea also has antibacterial properties.
However, there has been little conclusive research into the specific health benefits of drinking peppermint tea.
Although peppermint tea is generally very safe, some people with GERD find that drinking it can trigger or worsen their symptoms.