Peppermint: Not Just For Candy Canes
Looking for a natural way to ease some common discomforts? Consider peppermint. The plant’s dried, crushed leaves or extracted oil offer more than a pleasing aroma and flavor, they have medicinal applications as well. Peppermint can be used:
- As a chest rub to ease breathing with the common cold
- For relief of indigestion and nausea.It also helps when you have that full stomach feeling from eating too much
- As a treatment for gastrointestinal ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease
- Topical treatment for sore or tight muscles including tension headaches
Be aware that while largely beneficial for the digestive tract, peppermint tea can worsen the heartburn experienced with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and may also promote the flow of bile from the gall bladder and complicate gallstones – consult your doctor if you have these conditions and stop using peppermint products if these seem to worsen. Also, don’t give peppermint tea to babies or young children: the menthol it contains can cause a choking sensation in youngsters of this age. When choosing peppermint, look for oil containing at least 44% free menthol or teas with 100% pure peppermint leaves. You can buy pure peppermint leaf tea in most supermarkets. Brew it in a covered container to avoid loss of volatile components, and drink as much of it as you like, hot or iced.
If using peppermint to help with digestive spasm or irritable bowel syndrome, look for encapsulated products to allow the herb to get past the stomach on the way to where it is needed most.
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