You may think of herbal teas as something delicious or relaxing to sip on at the beginning or the end of your day, but they're much more than that. There are a wide range of mint tea benefits that can positively affect everything from your digestion to your immune system to your cancer risk.
While there isn't a ton of research out there on mint tea specifically, there are studies that have looked at how peppermint oil — one of the main ingredients in mint tea — can help provide digestive relief and fight off potential infections.
Peppermint oil, which is one of the main ingredients in mint tea, may help alleviate the symptoms of IBS and reduce abdominal pain in children with unspecified digestive complaints. It's also a potent anti-microbial and deemed "highly effective" at killing S. aureus, the bacteria responsible for staph infections.
What Is Mint Tea?
An older report that was published in Phytotherapy Research in August 2006 describes peppermint tea as one of the most widely consumed single ingredient herbal teas — and perhaps for good reason. Peppermint contains compounds called phenolic acids, flavones and flavanones, which act as major antioxidants. These antioxidants may help combat oxidative stress and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer.
Peppermint tea, which has been used for a long time in traditional medicine, is made from the leaves of the peppermint plant and also contains some of the essential oils that come from those leaves, but it's not as concentrated as peppermint essential oil that you can purchase in a bottle.
Soothes Your Digestion
Perhaps one of the most well-known mint and peppermint tea benefits is the help it provides in alleviating digestive complaints. While there haven't been studies that look at mint tea and its effects on digestion directly, there is some research on how mint oil, which is a component of mint tea, may be able to help.
One review, published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in July 2014, looked at how peppermint oil (which was administered in capsule form) could help patients with irritable bowel syndrome — IBS. Researchers found that the peppermint capsules were significantly more effective than a placebo at reducing IBS symptoms and abdominal pain after a treatment period of two weeks.
The researchers also mentioned that, while most people didn't experience any adverse reactions, some of the participants did experience heartburn. This could be because the concentration of mint oil was high, but the same peppermint tea side effects are possible too.
Another review looked at how mint can improve quality of life in children suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, which, according to the report, are common childhood complaints. The review, published in Pediatrics in June 2017, compiled records from 1,927 study subjects with different digestive complaints who were treated with either herbal therapy (like mint) or with a placebo or medication. They also included children who weren't treated at all.
After looking through the evidence, researchers from the review reported that peppermint oil helped significantly decrease the duration, frequency and severity of pain in children who had unexplained abdominal pain.
While the results are promising and hopeful, it's difficult to say whether these effects can be applied to mint tea, since the studies used capsules and mint oil and there's a lower concentration of that oil when the mint is prepared in tea form.
Helps Fight Infection
According to a study published in PeerJ in July 2017, antibiotic resistance is on the rise. That means that bacteria that cause sicknesses and diseases are starting to adapt and transform so that regular antibiotics aren't as effective at fighting them. Because of this, researchers wanted to look at different types of herbal tea — mint included — to see if they could help in the fight against bacterial infections.
Researchers from the study added 10 grams of mint to 100 milliliters of water and let it steep for 30 minutes. Then they tested how well this tea could kill bacteria, both alone and in combination with commonly prescribed antibiotics. They found that the mint tea successfully killed off potentially harmful bacteria and described it as "highly effective" against S. aureus, which causes the most infections out of all the Staphylococcus, or staph, bacteria, according to MedlinePlus.
S. aureus naturally lives in the nose and on the skin, but if it gets out of control, it can cause staph infections that range from mild to severe.
If you have a serious infection, check with your doctor or health professional for the best course of treatment, rather than relying on mint tea to fight the bacteria. If you're on medications, be sure the mint or other tea ingredients don't interfere with the medication. The report in PeerJ also noted that, while mint doesn't seem to interfere with antibiotics, rosehip and pomegranate can. So, if your tea includes these ingredients, consider skipping it while you're on medication.
Other Mint Tea Benefits
Aside from all the good stuff that comes with mint, tea also has some health benefits of its own. Mint may be coupled with black tea, green tea or other herbs and spices that, together, make an herbal tea. Each type of tea can contribute to your health in different ways.
For example, if you have a mint green tea, you're also getting a large dose of certain types of polyphenols called catechins and epicatechins, which are anti-inflammatory and act as powerful antioxidants, according to Harvard Health. A different post in Harvard Health also notes that the polyphenols in tea may help balance your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
Black and red teas also contain polyphenols, but in smaller amounts than green teas. The fermentation process that's specific to green teas boosts the amount of polyphenols, making it even better for you.
Because of this, choosing a mint green tea over other types of mint teas can have some additional benefits. So, if you want to balance your blood glucose, soothe your digestion and give yourself a dose of antioxidants to end your night, reach for a cup of freshly brewed peppermint tea before bed.
- PeerJ: "Antimicrobial Activities of Widely Consumed Herbal Teas, Alone or in Combination With Antibiotics: An in Vitro Study"
- Pediatrics: "Herbal Medicines for Gastrointestinal Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review"
- Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: "Peppermint Oil for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Food Chemistry: "Peppermint Antioxidants Revisited"
- Phytotherapy Research: "A Review of the Bioactivity and Potential Health Benefits of Peppermint Tea (Mentha piperita L.)"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Health Benefits Linked to Drinking Tea"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Tea: A Cup of Good Health?"
- MedlinePlus: "What Are Staphylococcal (Staph) Infections?"