Herbal teas (also known as tisanes or infusions) have been used for centuries around the world as natural remedies for a wide range of ailments and to support overall health and wellness. Herbalists, nutritionists, and other health professionals recommend peppermint tea as a treatment for various ailments and as a general health tonic with many benefits for the body and mind. Just the aroma of peppermint tea (or peppermint oil) may relieve headaches and colds. Think of it as aromatherapy in your teacup.
- Origin: Peppermint plant indigenous to Europe and the Middle East
- Temperature: Hot or cold
- Caffeine: None
What Is Peppermint Tea?
Peppermint tea can be made from the dried leaves of peppermint plants or it may be black, green, or white tea with added peppermint leaves or oil. It's an aromatic tea that can magically warm you up on a cold day or cool you down when it's hot. Archaeologists have found dried peppermint in the Egyptian pyramids dating back to 1000 BCE.
Health Benefits in Peppermint Tea:
Although much anecdotal evidence exists to support the health benefits of peppermint tea, little actual research backs the claims. Possible side effects of peppermint oil taken orally include heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain, and dry mouth. Rarely, peppermint oil can cause allergic reactions.
That said, many people find peppermint tea very soothing.
Peppermint tea may ease headaches caused by stress or poor diet. These headaches typically restrict blood vessels in the brain and, like pharmaceutical painkillers, peppermint tea opens them up, potentially bringing relief to headache sufferers.
The next time you feel the rumblings of a headache, try reaching for some fresh or dried peppermint leaves instead of aspirin or other painkillers. After a few minutes of steeping and sipping, you might find that your pain disappears without any side effects or unnecessary medications.
Menthol, the naturally occurring chemical that gives peppermint its refreshing, icy-hot flavor and sensation, may help fight sinus problems. It calms inflamed mucous membranes in the sinuses and throat; thins mucus, making it less likely to block the sinuses and impede comfortable breathing; and acts as a decongestant, breaking up phlegm and mucus congestion. Inhale the steam from a hot cup of peppermint tea before you drink it.
Soothes Upset Stomach
Peppermint tea may help soothe some gastrointestinal ailments, though ingesting peppermint oil may cause heartburn.
A few studies show peppermint oil effectively treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and some health care practitioners believe drinking peppermint tea regularly can lessen symptoms.
Benefits the Immune System
Because of peppermint's antiviral and antimicrobial properties, peppermint tea may kill off bad bacteria in the upper respiratory tract. Enjoying a mug or two of peppermint tea when you begin to feel under the weather might ward off an oncoming cold.
Peppermint tea can be served hot or cold and enjoyed at any time of the day. Its invigorating aroma can help wake you up in the morning, and it can aid with digestion after a big meal. Peppermint tea may make you more mentally alert (despite being naturally caffeine free), improve memory retrieval, and reduce stress. It's also been shown to help commuters drive more safely (its calming effect may reduce traffic-related frustration) and ease anxiety in test takers. The antispasmodic effect of menthol eases constricting muscles—particularly those in the walls of the uterus. Drinking two or three cups a day of peppermint tea during the days leading up to and during menstruation helps soothe menstrual cramps for many women.
Most likely the toothpaste you use has peppermint flavoring, as well as the mints you pop in your mouth after a meal to freshen your breath. This is because peppermint has antibacterial properties that kill germs that cause dental plaque, which in turn makes a person's breath smell better. Drinking peppermint tea can help make your mouth feel cleaner and freshen your breath.
How to Drink Peppermint Tea
Brew peppermint tea using a tea bag, dried leaves, or crushed fresh mint. The water should be hot but not boiling, and the tea should steep for 5 to 7 minutes for full flavor. Start with fresh or dried peppermint leaves. You need about 1 tablespoon crushed, fresh leaves, or 1 teaspoon or tea bag of dried leaves per cup of fresh water.
Peppermint gives the impression of sweetness, making sugar unnecessary, though you may want to add some to taste. (Try a little honey to soothe a sore throat). You can blend peppermint with other herbs when you make your herbal tea. It's delicious with lavender, another stress reducer; ginger, a digestion aid; and fennel seeds, a main ingredient in detox tea.
Caffeine Content in Peppermint Tea
The caffeine content in peppermint tea depends on whether it's made solely with dried peppermint leaves or if peppermint leaves or oil gets added to black, green, or white tea leaves. Pure peppermint does not contain caffeine. An 8-ounce cup of black tea contains about 47 milligrams of caffeine; a similar serving of green tea contains about 25 milligrams.
Buying and Storing
You can purchase fresh mint year-round at many supermarkets. Store it loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator for a few days. Dried mint is also widely available, and you can find peppermint tea in tea bags, in the bulk section of many grocery stores, or through online or specialty tea retailers. Store dried mint or peppermint tea in an airtight container; it begins to lose potency after about a year.
Peppermint tea is generally considered to be a very safe, effective, natural remedy. However, it has a few potential side effects. Avoid peppermint tea if you suffer from GERD. Peppermint tea's relaxing properties can cause the sphincter muscle of the stomach and esophagus to relax, exacerbating acid reflux. You may also want to avoid peppermint tea if you are pregnant. In rare cases, peppermint tea may interact with medications. If you are concerned about a potential drug interaction, check the drug's warnings or consult with your doctor. If you have any concerns or questions about the side effects or health benefits of peppermint tea, talk with your doctor or consult an herbalist.
Peppermint oil. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
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How herbs can interact with medicines. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health