Peppermint is popping up all over the place this time of year in the form of candy canes, candied bark, and even flavored syrup in your favorite Starbucks concoction. While the processed and sugar-laden forms of peppermint in many of our favorite guilty pleasures isn't exactly a health food, peppermint is so much more than just a festive flavoring for Christmas-themed treats. Peppermint in its purest form actually offers a host of health benefits, and has been used medicinally in a variety of ways for thousands of years. Here are 5 handy health uses for peppermint that may come as a surprise:
Peppermint can be used to:
1. Soothe an upset stomach.
To help soothe tummy troubles with peppermint, you can create a tea by crushing fresh peppermint leaves and steeping in hot water, or simply use a store-bought organic peppermint tea. However, use sparingly if you are prone to heartburn or acid reflux, as peppermint can exacerbate these conditions.
2. Ease tension headaches and muscle pain.
Peppermint has natural anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in pain relief when applied topically to sites of pressure. For tension headaches, apply a couple drops of peppermint essential oil mixed with a carrier oil to the forehead and/or temples, and be sure to inhale the scent deeply for full effect. For sore muscles, apply oil mixture directly onto sore spots and massage gently, again being sure to inhale the scent at the same time for maximum benefit. Be sure to use an appropriate proportion of carrier oil to peppermint oil to avoid a stinging sensation on the skin.
3. Reduce nasal congestion and allergy symptoms.
Menthol is the naturally occurring property in peppermint that gives it its "minty" smell. Menthol is also often present in its isolated form in over the counter cold and cough decongestants and rubs. Skip the added chemicals and unnecessary fillers and use pure peppermint oil to naturally help improve symptoms of stuffy nose and nasal congestion by diffusing in an EO diffuser and inhaling deeply.
4. Soothe nausea brought about by motion sickness.
Though formal research is inconclusive, peppermint is often praised as an anti-nausea remedy. Speaking from personal experience, I have to agree, as chewing on peppermint candy has soothed my motion sickness on many road trips in the past! Some studies also suggest peppermint can be helpful for other forms of nausea, such as those brought about by chemotherapy and morning sickness, but evidence is largely anecdotal and the jury is still out in terms of conclusive medical recommendations.
5. Enhance the health of your hair and scalp.
Adding a tiny bit of peppermint oil to your shampoo can help soothe dry skin on the scalp and prevent or treat dandruff, thanks to natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties that naturally cleanse and balance.
Beauties, have you tried peppermint for any of the uses above? Do you know of another we left out? Let us know in the comments below!