Gas commonly produces abdominal discomfort, bloating and flatulence. Conventional medical professionals often recommend a change of diet, relaxation or medications to relieve gas pains. Practitioners of herbal medicine claim, however, that a strong cup of peppermint water -- prepared by boiling peppermint leaves in boiling water, then steeping, straining and cooling the solution -- can ease symptoms associated with excess gas. As with all herbal remedies, consult your physician before using peppermint water.
Peppermint, a hybrid of watermint and spearmint, grows commercially and in gardens throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The plant reaches heights of 3 feet and features reddish stems and pink flowers. Its aromatic dark green leaves produce high levels of volatile oil that constitute the source of peppermint's medicinal properties.
Just one cup of peppermint tea produces antispasmodic effects that can relieve gas pain and heartburn. Peppermint oil contains menthol, a key constituent that accelerates the flow of digestive juices and activates bile. Menthol naturally tames stomach acid, soothes irritated stomach muscles and reduces colic, bloating, flatulence and gas. In his book "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies," Dr. C. Norman Shealy, founder of the American Holistic Medicine Association, suggests stirring, straining and cooling 1/2 oz. of peppermint leaves in 1 qt. of boiling water for stomach woes.
Irritable bowel syndrome, a gastrointestinal disorder, commonly causes bloating, abdominal distension and gas. Peppermint oil appears may offer effective symptom relief for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome. A Tufts University critical review of research studying the health benefits of peppermint, published in the August 2006 issue of "Phytotherapy Research," also found that peppermint oil may help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. No human studies exist, however, that target the effects of peppermint leaf, the main ingredient of peppermint water, as it specifically relates to treating gas.
Never ingest pure menthol or peppermint leaves, as they contain toxic substances that can cause cardiac arrhythmias. Large amounts of peppermint tea may lower testosterone levels. Children, pregnant and nursing women and people with chronic heartburn should avoid peppermint in all forms.
- International Journal of Pharmacy: An Updated Overview on Peppermint
- "Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
- "DK Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine"; Andrew Cheavallier; 2000
- "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies"; C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.; 2002
- Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology: Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México
- Phytotherapy Research: A Review of the Bioactivity and Potential Health Benefits of Peppermint Tea (Mentha Piperita L.); D.L. McKay, et al.; August 2006