Behold the power of peppermint

candycanesThe candy-cane is as iconic a Christmas-time treat as it gets. The mere image of one, its red and white twirls hanging from a tree or stuffed in our stockings, stirs up thoughts and memories of the holidays. Like the taste and smell of pumpkin during Thanksgiving, peppermint has become synonymous with Christmas and the holiday season.

Now, it’s possible to overdo it with all the sweet peppermint treats available this time of year, but peppermint itself isn’t to blame. Peppermint is actually very, very good for us.

For most purposes, peppermint oil is most effective and the easiest to obtain. It’s also available in capsule form and simply infusing some water with crushed peppermint leaves can yield relief for several ailments.

Peppermint is great for all kinds of stomach and digestive issues. From irritable bowel syndrome and other gastric issues, to common holiday-induced upset stomach and indigestion, peppermint can ease the symptoms and discomfort of these conditions. A glass of water with a few drops of peppermint oil or several crushed mint leaves is all it takes.

It is also thought to aid in appetite suppression, something that can be a big help when surrounded by all the holiday goodies. In a recent study, people who frequently inhaled peppermint’s aroma reported feeling less hungry and consumed far less calories during a typical week.

The aroma of peppermint has also been linked to improved memory and increased concentration.

Respiratory conditions, including asthma, may also be alleviated through the use of peppermint. Peppermint oil acts as both and expectorant and decongestant, and can aid in clearing your respiratory tract. Peppermint oil can be used as a cold rub on your chest or used in a vaporizer to relieve cough and cold symptoms.

It has been shown to relieve several types of everyday maladies: headache, muscle pain and stress, many of which can be brought on during the holidays. Rubbing the oil on the skin (your temples and forehead for headaches, and the offending muscles for soreness) or soaking in a peppermint oil infused bath can offer quick relief to these common conditions.

Not surprisingly, peppermint is great at freshening up our breath and has been shown to help in the prevention of cavities better than the chemicals commonly used in mouthwash. A drop or two of peppermint oil on our toothpaste is all it takes.

Lastly, peppermint has been shown to aid in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in prostate cancer patients, thanks to one of its major compounds, menthol. Additional studies have linked it to prevention of colon, skin and lung cancer, as well as prevention as it relates to pancreatic, mammary and liver tumors. Peppermint oil has also been used as relief agent for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Peppermint may be one with the holiday season, but it’s clearly beneficial year round. Keeping it on hand is inexpensive and certainly worth the space in the cupboard.

 

Photo credit: Pen Waggener

 

 

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