Tea has long been associated with a slew of health benefits. Everything from black teas to promote weight loss and boost metabolism, to dandelion teas for liver and cellular health, there are so many health factors associated with various types of steeped leaves. But peppermint tea in particular has been associated with a slew of benefits that will have you stocking up on variations of the herb. We chatted with experts to break down all the peppermint tea benefits, side effects, and more.
What is peppermint tea exactly?
Peppermint is a cross between water mint and spearmint and is grown throughout Europe and North America. The leaves and concentrated oil have long been used for medicinal purposes dating back to ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Much of the research done on peppermint references the oil, not just the leaves steeped in tea. But, peppermint tea has some research and anecdotal evidence to support some great health benefits as well.
“Herbs and teas are a very diverse and mixed bag. Some are helpful and some are shown not to do much,” says Dr Gary Deng, author of The Wellness Principles: Cooking for a Healthy Life. “In general, I think there is something helpful from these herbs, but the side of the coin is sometimes people hype up the benefit and exaggerate it.”
But peppermint tea is one that has had some serious perks found in clinical trials, he notes. The important thing to know is if you’re sipping on peppermint tea and finding you’re getting the benefits or are enjoying the cup, that’s great. If you’re not getting the benefits you’re looking for, there’s no point in continuing, Dr Deng says.
What are the benefits of peppermint tea?
1. Helps with digestion
When it comes to peppermint, perhaps the most commonly known and science-backed benefit is digestive support. There are clinical studies that show it helps with the digestive tract, upset stomach, and irritable bowel syndrome, Dr Deng says.
“The essential oils in peppermint may help relax your digestive system, which can soothe stomach aches, and ease constipation,” says Robin Foroutan, dietitian. She notes that many of the studies done on peppermint for stomach issues were focused on peppermint oil, which is a more concentrated version of peppermint than tea. But, she still encourages giving it a try if you’re looking for digestive support.
One review found that peppermint has a relaxing effect on the gastrointestinal tissue and human studies have found peppermint has positive effects on irritable bowel syndrome. Additional studies have found peppermint oil has benefits for the treatment of functional abdominal pain disorders in children.
2. Provides respiratory relief
Next time you have a cough, a cup of peppermint tea may ease your discomfort. Research has found peppermint tea has potential benefits in relieving symptoms of acute respiratory tract infections, and other studies have found the vapours of peppermint oil potentially have antibacterial agents against respiratory tract pathogens.
3. May improve focus
Small, emerging research has found that peppermint can improve cognitive functioning, Dr Deng says. Foroutan adds this is a great option for those who don’t want to add caffeine to their day. Just be sure the tea you’re brewing isn’t mixed with black or green tea, which are caffeinated.
4. Supports the immune system
We’re not saying you can forgo washing your hands if you regularly sip a steamy cup of tea, but research suggests peppermint has antibacterial properties that make it good for inhibiting food-borne pathogens. Additional research suggests peppermint has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that could help ward off disease.
Dr. Deng adds that because peppermint tea may have a calming effect, it may support a stronger immune system and promote general wellness. Plus, Maya Feller, dietitian says that peppermint tea has antioxidant properties, which can be helpful for the immune system and quell free radicals.
5. Potentially helps headaches
6. May ease menstrual cramps
Feller notes that though peppermint isn’t a treatment or cure, there has been some small research indicating it can help with abdominal pain. Foroutan adds because peppermint tea has relaxing properties, it may help with reducing pain associated with menstrual cramps. Additionally, one small study found peppermint eased pain and severity of menstrual symptoms.
7. Encourages a healthy mouth
Peppermint tea and oil side effects
As for the side effects of peppermint tea, some medications can interact with teas or herbs. If you’re taking medications, be sure to check with your doctor before making peppermint tea a regular part of your routine, Dr Deng says.
Feller adds that people who have GERD or acid reflux may find that peppermint tea relaxes the oesophageal sphincter even more and causes extra discomfort. Additionally, Feller notes anyone with a history of kidney stones should speak to their doctor before enjoying.