Have you ever craved something warm and relaxing during the winter – something to soothe your body of ailments from the cold? Recently, while on the cold snow-covered mountains of central California, I discovered why so many people enjoy peppermint tea. The change from warm southern California weather to cold central California weather had taken a toll on my body. But this warm aromatic tea tickled my nose and enticed my palate. My body aches and head swirls eventually vanished. And with the disappearance of my ailments, I began to wonder what else peppermint tea might help.
Peppermint, or Mentha piperita, tea has a variety of health benefits, ranging from easing abdominal pain to alleviating tension headaches. Animal studies performed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) have demonstrated a relaxation effect on the gastrointestinal tract and anesthetic effects on the central and peripheral nervous system, while studies on humans have shown analgesic, or pain-reducing, effects on the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts from drinking peppermint tea. The NIH has given peppermint a B letter grade for its ability to reduce coughs, according to good scientific evidence. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the menthol in peppermint is a decongestant that reduces mucus and, therefore, relieves nasal pressure. Menthol is also helpful in breaking up phlegm.
Although peppermint is most commonly used in the form of a tea, it can also be used be externally. Peppermint tea or oil (the concentrated form of peppermint) can be applied to the temples to relieve tension headaches and on rashes to cool the skin. Peppermint tea extract feels wonderful on one’s skin during or after a bath. Consider adding a few drops to your bath water for a great tingly sensation.
As with most tea, there are many benefits to peppermint tea. These benefits range from internal to external, mental to physical. Through a swirling head and body aches, I was able to discover my new favorite tea. What’s your reason for loving peppermint tea?
This post by Kelley Gold was originally posted to T Ching in January of 2010.