Mint teas have long been a staple and celebrated drink in many cultures. Both spearmint and peppermint are native plants to parts of Europe and Asia and have been used as a folk remedy to help cure ailments such as colds and stomach pain. This article will focus on the health benefits of a cooling, soothing, and refreshing cup of peppermint tea.
What is Mint Tea?
Peppermint tea and spearmint tea is a herbal tea made by adding plant leaves into a cup or pot of recently boiled hot water. The oils from the leaves are released into the hot water giving your hot tea a minty flavor. It is best to brew herbal teas like peppermint tea for no more than four minutes since the mint tea leaves can cause a slightly bitter taste if allowed to steep for too long.
Spearmint and peppermint are herbal teas because they aren't true teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant like black tea and green tea. Unlike black and green tea, mint tea is naturally caffeine-free, and both peppermint and spearmint leaves come from the same family of mint plants called the mentha plant family. However, there is a big difference in flavor between spearmint leaves and peppermint leaves.
Peppermint tea is the more popular mint tea choice for a few reasons. Peppermint leaves are loaded with menthol and menthone; these naturally occurring chemicals give peppermint its sharp and spicy flavor. While there are no studies on peppermint tea specifically, peppermint oil has been widely researched for its health benefits, and both come from peppermint leaves!
Spearmint tea is much different from peppermint because it contains a compound known as carvone. This compound gives spearmint a mild flavor that's both sweet and cool. You can also find the compound carvone in caraway seeds and dill.
What About Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint oil is a blanket term used to describe an oil made from the flowers and leaves of the peppermint plant. You may see these oils marketed as peppermint oil or peppermint essential oil.
Peppermint essential oil is a concentrated oil extracted through steam distillation. The steam vaporizes the peppermint plant's volatile compounds and sends them through a process of condensation and eventually a collection of nothing but the pure oil of the plant. This explains why essential oils can be more expensive than just regular peppermint oil, a combination of peppermint essential oils diluted with alcohol.
You can safely consume peppermint oil and peppermint essential oil. However, it is always best to check with your doctor first to ensure these oils are safe to consume.
The Top Health Benefits of Drinking Peppermint Tea
Consuming peppermint tea to improve digestion has been a practice since ancient Egypt. This herbal tea continues to be one of the most popular remedies to help relieve stomach issues such as an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting.
However, improving digestion is not the only help a cooling menthol cup of peppermint tea can give you. Let's look closer at the stomach-soothing benefits and several other benefits you can get from peppermint tea.
#1. Helps Soothe A Sore Stomach
A nice warm cup of peppermint tea may help relieve stomach issues such as bloating, gas, and indigestion. Animal studies show that peppermint helps relax the digestive system creating less discomfort. While also preventing stomach muscles from contracting, reducing stress and tension, and spasms of the gut.
Researchers made remarkable discoveries in a 2014 review of nine studies focused on 726 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The subjects who ingested peppermint over two weeks had significantly better relief of IBS symptoms than those who received a placebo.
Another study showed that inhaling the scent of peppermint oil drops helped reduce feelings and severity of nausea and vomiting for people undergoing chemotherapy. Although no studies have used peppermint tea specifically, anecdotal evidence suggests consuming it may provide the same relief for stomach issues.
#2. Gives Your Memory and Focus a Boost
Drinking peppermint tea may help improve and enhance memory and cognitive function. Not only does mint tea awaken the senses, but studies show that it may help improve memory, retain information, and sharpen your thoughts. Another one of the benefits of peppermint tea is that it increases your ability to focus while giving you a boost of energy, it can even increase alertness!
#3. Helps Relieve Tension Headaches and Migraines
Since peppermint may help relax muscles and relieve pain, it may also help relieve symptoms from tension headaches and migraines. The menthol in peppermint oil may increase blood flow, provide a cooling sensation and help ease the pain.
In a 2010 study, 35 people suffering from migraines had peppermint oil applied to their temples and forehead. After two hours, the people given peppermint oil experienced significantly reduced pain compared to those who took a placebo.
#4. Fresher Breath
Peppermint is one of the most common ingredients in toothpaste, mouthwashes, chewing gum, and breath mints. Its pleasant smell and antibacterial properties may also help kill germs that cause dental plaque preventing bad breath. Peppermint tea is loaded with the same compounds found in toothpaste and other breath-freshening products.
#5. Easier Breathing
The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties of peppermint may help alleviate clogged sinuses because of infections, allergies, and the common cold. Some studies show that menthol, the active compound in peppermint, can clear congestion. Inhaling the steam from a hot cup of peppermint tea may help you breathe easier. And we all know that if you have a cold, consuming warm liquids helps relieve symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, and pesky cough.
#6. Energy Booster
Peppermint tea helps give you that boost of energy you need to soar through a test or complete a task without feeling fatigued or jittery from caffeine. In one study, a group of healthy young adults were given peppermint oil capsules to perform a cognitive test. They experienced less mental fatigue and had better focus.
#7. It May Help Fight Bacterial Infections
Although no studies show the antibacterial properties of drinking peppermint tea, peppermint oil is a known bacteria destroyer. In one study, peppermint oil killed and prevented the growth of E-coli, Salmonella, and Listeria growing in pineapple and mango juices.
Research shows that peppermint oil can kill several forms of bacteria that affect the body, such as Staphylococcus and pneumonia-linked bacteria. Drinking peppermint tea may also help reduce bacteria commonly found in the mouth.
#8. A Better Night's Sleep
Want to go to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer? Sipping a warm cup of peppermint tea before bed calms the senses and the mind. One of the main reasons peppermint tea is so effective is that it is naturally caffeine-free and creates a soothing scent and taste.
Research revealed that people who inhaled three drops of peppermint oil had better sleep quality and duration. Even though more studies are needed to show the effectiveness of peppermint tea and sleep, it indicates that peppermint tea may be the perfect sleepy-time tea.
#9. Weight Loss
Peppermint may help people achieve their weight loss goals. Peppermint tea is already naturally sweet but contains zero calories. This makes it the perfect go-to drink when you need something sweet. Unlike mass-produced beverages loaded with sugar, peppermint tea provides a satisfying drink with a refreshing and cooling effect and no added sugar. In a 2013 study, 13 healthy participants who were given peppermint oil capsules showed a reduction in appetite compared to those who did not take a peppermint oil capsule.
#10. Relieves Menstrual Cramping
Peppermint has natural anti-inflammatory properties and may even help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with menstrual cramps. One study showed that 127 females who suffered from painful periods could reduce the intensity and duration of the pain by taking peppermint extract capsules. These capsules were just as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
#11. It may Help With Seasonal Allergies
Peppermint leaves contain the plant compound rosmarinic acid - the same compound found in both rosemary and mint family plants. Rosmarinic acid has shown promise in helping reduce the symptoms of allergic reactions associated with seasonal allergies. These symptoms include itchy eyes, runny nose, and asthma.
In a 2004 study, 29 people who suffered from seasonal allergies took a rosmarinic acid supplement over 21 days. The participants who took the supplement had fewer symptoms than those who received a placebo. Although it is unclear how much rosmarinic acid is in mint family plants like peppermint, it may help alleviate seasonal allergic symptoms.
Mint Tea: Possible Side Effects
Drinking mint tea is considered generally safe, but sometimes, consuming menthol may cause a few side effects. Many of these side effects occur if mint tea is consumed in large amounts. Although it is hard to drink enough mint tea to feel the effects of menthol, this compound may affect people with certain health conditions. Always talk to your doctor before adding mint teas to your diet.
Heartburn - Excessive amounts of peppermint tea may worsen the effects of acid reflux. Patients diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD should avoid consuming peppermint tea.
Interactions with medications - Peppermint tea may react with certain medications such as blood pressure or diabetes medications. These conditions can become worse if you add sugar to your mint tea.
Kidney stones - Even though peppermint tea is excellent for better kidney function, avoid peppermint tea if you have kidney stones.
Drinking Mint Tea For Better Health
Teas like black tea and green tea seem to get the spotlight when it comes to potential health benefits. However, the benefits of peppermint tea are just as plentiful. This popular herbal tea gives you the cooling peppermint sensation while providing many therapeutic properties, such as better brain function, reducing abdominal pain and period pain, and preventing bad breath.
Even if you enjoy your soothing cup of mint tea for its refreshing taste alone, you'll get all those beneficial effects as a bonus. We always recommend loose-leaf tea over tea bags so that you get the most out of each sip of your tea. Our mint leaves go through less processing than the tea in peppermint tea bags. This means you get all of the benefits of peppermint tea with all the intense flavor. If you're looking for great tea blends made with mint leaves, try these!