Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) is an aromatic herb in the mint family that is a cross between watermint and spearmint.
Native to Europe and Asia, it has been used for thousands of years for its pleasant, minty taste and health benefits.
Peppermint is used as a flavoring in breath mints, candies and other foods. Additionally, many people consume peppermint as a refreshing, caffeine-free tea.
Peppermint leaves contain several essential oils including menthol, menthone and limonene (1).
Menthol gives peppermint its cooling properties and recognizably minty scent.
While peppermint tea is often drunk for its flavor, it may also have several health benefits. The tea itself has rarely been studied scientifically, but peppermint extracts have.
Here Are 12 Benefits Of Peppermint Tea And Extracts.
1. May Ease Digestive Upsets
Animal studies indicate that peppermint relaxes your digestive system and may ease pain.
It also prevents smooth muscles from contracting, which could relieve spasms in your gut .
A review of nine studies in 926 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) treated with peppermint oil for at least two weeks concluded that peppermint provided significantly better symptom relief than a placebo.
In one study in 72 people with IBS, peppermint oil capsules reduced IBS symptoms by 40% after four weeks, compared to only 24.3% with a placebo.
Additionally, in a review of 14 clinical trials in nearly 2,000 children, peppermint reduced the frequency, length and severity of abdominal pain.
Furthermore, capsules containing peppermint oil reduced incidence and severity of nausea and vomiting in a study in 200 people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
While no studies have examined peppermint tea and digestion, it’s possible that the tea could have similar effects.
2. May Help Relieve Tension Headaches and Migraines
The menthol in peppermint oil increases blood flow and provides a cooling sensation, possibly easing pain.
In one randomized clinical study in 35 people with migraines, peppermint oil applied to the forehead and temples significantly reduced pain after two hours, compared to a placebo oil .
In another study in 41 people, peppermint oil applied to the forehead was found to be as effective for headaches as 1,000 mg of acetaminophen.
While the aroma of peppermint tea may help relax muscles and improve headache pain, there is no supporting scientific evidence to confirm this effect. However, applying peppermint oil to your temples may help.
3. May Freshen Your Breath
In addition to its pleasant smell, peppermint has antibacterial properties that help kill germs that cause dental plaque — which may improve your breath.
In one study, people who had undergone spine surgery and had received a rinse made with peppermint, tea tree and lemon oils experienced improvement in bad breath symptoms, compared to those who did not receive the oils.
In another study, schoolgirls given a peppermint mouth rinse experienced an improvement in breath after one week, compared to the control group.
While there is no evidence from scientific studies that drinking peppermint tea has the same effect, the compounds in peppermint have been shown to improve breath.
4. May Help Relieve Menstrual Cramps
While peppermint tea has not been studied to that effect, compounds in peppermint have been shown to improve symptoms.
In one study in 127 women with painful periods, peppermint extract capsules were found to be as effective as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug in reducing the intensity and duration of pain.
It is possible that peppermint tea could have similar effects.
5. May Fight Bacterial Infections
In one study, peppermint oil was found to kill and prevent the growth of common food-borne bacteria including E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella in pineapple and mango juices.
Peppermint oil also kills several types of bacteria that lead to illnesses in humans, including Staphylococcus and pneumonia-linked bacteria .
Additionally, studies indicate that peppermint reduces several types of bacteria commonly found in your mouth.
Furthermore, menthol has also demonstrated antibacterial activity.
6. May Improve Your Sleep
Peppermint tea is an ideal choice before bed, as it’s naturally caffeine-free.
What’s more, peppermint’s capacity as a muscle relaxant may help you relax before bedtime .
That said, there is not much scientific evidence that peppermint enhances sleep.
In one study, peppermint oil lengthened the sleeping time of mice given a sedative. However, another study found that menthol did not have a sedative effect.
Therefore, research on peppermint and sleep is mixed.
7. May Aid Weight Loss
Peppermint tea is naturally calorie-free and has a pleasantly sweet flavor, which makes it a smart choice when you’re trying to lose weight.
However, there is not much research on the effects of peppermint tea on weight.
In a small study in 13 healthy people, taking a peppermint oil capsule resulted in reduced appetite compared to not taking peppermint.
On the other hand, an animal study showed that mice given peppermint extracts gained more weight than the control group.
8. May Improve Concentration
Drinking peppermint tea may help improve your ability to concentrate and focus.
While studies on the effects of peppermint tea on concentration are unavailable, two small studies have researched this beneficial effect of peppermint oil — taken by ingestion or inhalation.
In one study, 24 young, healthy people performed significantly better on cognitive tests when they were given peppermint oil capsules.
In another study, smelling peppermint oil was found to improve memory and alertness, compared to ylang-ylang, another popular essential oil