Whether you are enjoying the cool flavor of peppermint in a fresh spring salad, cooling off in the summer with a sprig of peppermint in your favorite drink or having a tasty peppermint candy cane in during the winter holiday season, peppermint has a distinct flavor that we can enjoy throughout the entire year. The purple-green leaves of the peppermint plant go beyond just being delicious, though; there are a wide range of health benefits that peppermint provides as well.
Peppermint Helps Soothe Your Stomach
One of the most noticeable benefits that peppermint has to offer is the ability to help with common stomach issues. In recent studies it was found that peppermint oil can reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome such as colonic muscle spasms and digestion issues.
The ability to soothe the stomach stems from the peppermint’s ability to relax muscles. Once peppermint oil and menthol reach the stomach, the muscles around your intestines begin to relax which reduce the chances of spasms that cause indigestion, dyspepsia, and other issues.
Fight and Prevent Cancer
Clinical studies of peppermint oil have revealed that the plant contains a monotropene phytonutrient known as perillyl alcohol. In animal studies, perillyl alcohol has been shown to inhibit the growth of different types of tumors including mammary tumors, liver tumors, and pancreatic tumors. The same phytonutrient has also been shown to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the skin, lungs, and colon. While these studies have not been taken to the human testing stage, yet, the power of peppermint to fight and prevent cancer is promising.
Antimicrobial and Antifungal
Peppermint oil is a well-known antimicrobial which means it has the power to stop the growth and even act as a safeguard against common strains of bacteria. Some of the common bacteria that peppermint oil can prevent are salmonella, e coli, and even Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—the super bug commonly found in hospitals known as MRSA. In addition to prevent bacterial infections, peppermint oil has also been shown to stop fungal growth as well.
In addition to containing perillyl alcohol, peppermint leaves also contain an acid known as rosmarinic acid. In addition to this acid containing powerful antioxidants that help destroy free radicals in the body, it has also the ability to prevent the development of inflammatory causing chemicals such as leukotrienes which help relieve and prevent asthma. Peppermint also acts as a catalyst to boost the production of prostacyclins which open up the body’s airways to make breathing easier, aiding in the of cold, flu, and allergy symptoms.
Overall Health Benefits Through Essential Nutrients
Some of the most common benefits of peppermint that often go overlooked is the fact that it contains a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. Peppermint contains large amounts of vitamin C which can help boost the body’s natural immune system, eliminate free radicals, and decrease the risk of certain types of cancers such as colon cancer. Additionally peppermint contains essential minerals such as manganese and copper.