Long used by many cultures for its medicinal properties, peppermint also makes a calming and mentally-clarifying tea. Though it is not high in macronutrients including fat, carbohydrates or protein, it contains vitamins, minerals and other components that can help with a wide variety of ailments. Peppermint tea is considered mild, but be sure to check with your doctor before consuming it regularly if you deal with a chronic illness.
Peppermint tea comes from the dried leaves of the peppermint plant, a natural hybrid of spearmint and water mint, according to the Reader's Digest Association book "The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs." Harvesting of the leaves and stems of the plant occurs before the flowers bloom in summer. The major component of peppermint tea is peppermint oil, which contains all of the medicinal properties. Menthol, menthone and menthyl acetate provide peppermint tea's therapeutic effects.
Peppermint tea contains about one calorie per serving, and does not have any fat, carbohydrates or protein. Still, it contains many nutrients, according to herbalist Kami McBride in her book "The Herbal Kitchen," including calcium, magnesium and potassium. Peppermint tea also has small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and folate. Peppermint tea is generally considered safe, but should not be used if you have a hiatal hernia or acute gallstones, adds McBride.
Perhaps the most well-known use for peppermint tea is to help soothe the stomach and promote digestion. But in her book "20,000 Secrets of Tea," health writer Victoria Zak notes many other uses, including placing a bag of peppermint tea in a pot of boiling water and using it as an inhalant for chest congestion. She also recommends using a warm bag of tea on the skin where you feel a headache and drinking it to relieve stress and effectively stop nausea and seasickness. Peppermint tea can also be gargled to relieve toothaches.
Studies have shown that peppermint oil, which is contained in peppermint tea, can be helpful for a variety of ailments. A systematic review of trials conducted in 2008 and published in the "British Medical Journal" found that peppermint oil was more effective than a placebo in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. A 2006 review in "Phytotherapy Research" of the potential health benefits of peppermint tea found that in vitro, peppermint is antimicrobial and antiviral, holds strong antioxidant and antitumor actions and some antiallergenic potential, but human studies of peppermint tea are lacking.
- "The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs"; Reader's Digest Association; 1999
- "The Herbal Kitchen"; Kami McBride; 2010
- "20,000 Secrets of Tea"; Victoria Zak; 1999
- "British Medical Journal"; Effect of Fibre, Antispasmodics, and Peppermint Oil in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis; Alexander C Ford, et. al; Nov 2008