Peppermint is a native plant of the United States, found in most of the lower 48 states. It has a long history of global folklore use for a diverse array of ailments, ranging from stomach disorders to colds to cancer. Like many herbal supplements, scientific evidence has supported some of the folklore uses of peppermint. You can find it in several forms including capsules, essential oil, teas and as a flavoring for peppermint candy. The latter offers a convenient means of tapping into the health benefits of peppermint for relieving nausea. Despite the supporting research, peppermint may not be appropriate for all individuals.
The peppermint oil in candy may help relieve your nausea symptoms through the effects of menthol and other compounds. These chemicals have antispasmodic effects that can help relieve indigestion. Peppermint oil is also a muscle relaxant that may help relieve cramping associated with nausea and other gastrointestinal issues. In addition, peppermint may relieve pain associated with digestive problems. A 2011 study by the University of Adelaide in Australia identified a specific mechanism for relieving pain associated with gastrointestinal distress such as irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers found the peppermint reduced the perception of pain.
These effects on the gastrointestinal system offer a wide range of possibilities for medical applications from taking peppermint in candy form or other means. A 1997 study by Liverpool University in England found that administration of peppermint relieved post-operative nausea in participants. It may also have other applications for topical use and aromatherapy. A 2010 study by Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran found that use of peppermint relieved nausea and vomiting associated with migraines.
The convenience of being able to treat nausea by simply taking it in candy form is certainly attractive. However, consuming peppermint-containing candy may not be appropriate in all cases of stomach discomfort. Drugs.com cautions that peppermint may aggravate acid reflux or gastric ulcer symptoms. Peppermint oil is also safe during pregnancy and might help relieve morning sickness, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, although it might increase heartburn, which sometimes develops later in pregnancy. Individuals on cholesterol-lowering drugs should consult their doctor before increasing their peppermint consumption, because peppermint might raise the blood levels of some types of statins.
Guidelines for Use
If you are able to take peppermint, you should opt for candies with a higher concentration of peppermint oil for optimal health benefits for relieving nausea. Many manufacturers highlight the high peppermint concentration of their products, promoting them as strong sources of its intense flavor and breath-freshening properties. Sugary peppermint candies likely will not contain enough peppermint oil to be effective. For more controlled dosing, you may want to consider peppermint oil capsules instead.
- USDA Plant Database: Peppermint
- "Eastern-Central Medicinal Plants"; Steven Foster and James A. Duke; 1977
- Whole Health MD: Peppermint: Oct. 23, 2009
- "Pain": A Novel Role for TRPM8 in Visceral Afferent Function; A. Harrington, et al; April 2011
- "International Journal of Clinical Practice": Cutaneous Application of Menthol 10% Solution as an Abortive Treatment of Migraine Without Aura: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossed-Over Study; A. Borhani Haghighi, et al; March 2010
- "Journal of Advanced Nursing": Peppermint Oil: A Treatment for Postoperative Nausea; S. Tate; September 1997
- American Family Physician: Peppermint Oil
- Weil: Is Peppermint Safe During Pregnancy?