Although peppermint can be a cool, refreshing taste treat, it actually has some valuable year-round health benefits.
Menthol, made either synthetically or from peppermint oil, can be found in many health products.1 In fact, it may be the best-known ingredient to come from peppermint. Peppermint oil supplements are another way patients can have the benefits of this festive herb.
Peppermint to help digestive issues
Research in the use of peppermint oil and tea has shown to address several digestive issues, most notably irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).2 A 2014 meta-analysis study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology pooled together the results from nine smaller studies to study the effects of peppermint oil for treating IBS. The advantage of this type of study is that it can strengthen findings across several small studies.
Peppermint oil was found to be superior to placebo for improvement of IBS symptoms and specifically for abdominal pain. The researchers concluded that peppermint oil was a useful short-term remedy for IBS symptoms.2
A study published in the journal Arzneimittelforschung looked at the use of a combination of peppermint and caraway oils for treating indigestion in comparison to the medication cisapride in a four-week, randomized, double-blind study.3
Sixty patients received the peppermint and caraway oil preparation, and 58 received cisapride. At the end of the study, both treatments were comparable in terms of both frequency and severity of pain. The researchers suggested that the peppermint-caraway oil combination might prove an effective alternative to cisapride.3
Mood and cognition
A 2008 article in the International Journal of Neuroscience compared the effects of peppermint and ylang-ylang (a tropical exotic flower) aromatherapy on mood and cognition in 244 healthy volunteers. The researchers found that peppermint enhanced both mood and cognition, while ylang-ylang had the opposite effect. They concluded that peppermint oil might be effective in treating patients with certain mood disorders.4
Relief for the holiday diet
Peppermint oil supplements can do far more than keep patients’ breath minty fresh for that kiss under the mistletoe. For many people, over-eating is a part of the holiday experience, which can lead to indigestion or other digestive issues. Patients experiencing digestive discomfort around the holidays can benefit from adding the holiday freshness of peppermint supplements.
1 “Peppermint herb nutrition facts.” http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/peppermint.html. Nutrition and You. Published December 2012. Accessed December 2015.
2 Khanna R, MacDonald JK, Levesque BG. Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 2014; 48(6), 505-512.
3 Madisch A, Heydenreich CJ, Wieland V, et al. Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a fixed peppermint oil and caraway oil combination preparation as compared to cisapride. A multicenter, reference-controlled double-blind equivalence study. Arzneimittelforschung 1999; 49(11), 925-932.
4 Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. International Journal of Neuroscience 2008; 118(1), 59-77.