The Power of Peppermint

There’s just something so comforting about a cup of mint-tea. The liquid has become my cure-all potion over the years, and it’s soothed me on so many occasions I could almost consider the stuff an old friend.

Peppermint is just such a unique herb in that it seems to be able to refresh and awaken your senses while simultaneously calming you down and improving your mood. The result is that wonderful Zen feeling of total balance and well-being.

But there’s a lot more to mint tea than just those good feelings it delivers. Actually, peppermint, in its various forms, has shown at least some degree of effectiveness in treating a number of conditions, ranging from bad breath (OK, maybe that one was obvious) to irritable bowel syndrome.

The little miracle behind mint is menthol, an organic compound found in peppermint, and at a much higher concentration there than in other mints, such as spearmint and wintermint. Menthol possesses mild local anesthetic properties, plus is categorized as a “counterirritant.”

Do you recall that tingly feeling or taste associated with mint? That’s the herb’s counterirritant qualities at work. A counterirritant creates a certain level of inflammation — in this case, a pleasant stimulation — in an area, and at the same time minimizes inflammation elsewhere.

For this reason, peppermint, and hence, menthol, are used in all kinds of medicines, hygiene products and other things like lip balms, cough medicines, anti-itch topical creams, aftershaves (to alleviate razor burn), sunburn medications and sometimes even muscle relaxants.

But wait, there’s more. Menthol is also found in oral hygiene products, smoking cessation products, first aid products

Peppermint tea or peppermint oil has also been used to treat headaches, the common cold, diarrhea, flatulence, vomiting, upset stomach, intestinal spasms, colic, general nausea, myalgia and neuralgia.

You almost begin to wonder if there’s anything this precious herb can’t do, right? So now maybe you can understand my obsession with mint tea.

When I have a bad day, when my head is killing me, when I’m feeling a little lackluster, when I need a quick pick-me-up, or when I just need to get a little more Zen, I turn to this old standby and somehow everything is right again.

Image via Ali Edwards on Flickr


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