Peppermint is known for its fresh fragrance and pleasing flavor, but this versatile, easy-to-grow herb also has a variety of health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Peppermint
Helps Ease Digestive Pain
Many people find that peppermint helps to relieve digestive discomfort. The mechanism of action occurs as peppermint decreases smooth muscle contraction, the contractions can cause painful gut spasms. 1 Studies show that taking peppermint oil capsules reduces symptoms and pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and although more research needs to be done on peppermint tea, many people find that sipping it helps to soothe a stomach ache. 2 Peppermint oil can also be effective in managing nausea resulting from chemotherapy. 3
It’s no coincidence that toothpaste, mouthwash, and breath mints are traditionally peppermint flavored. Peppermint has long been used to reduce halitosis because of its strong, fresh scent. 4 Peppermint does more than just mask bad breath with its scent, though. This herb also has antibacterial properties that reduce dental plaque and kill germs, making for a healthier mouth overall. 5
Peppermint has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties, making it a popular home remedy for the common cold. 6 Additionally, inhaling peppermint’s strong scent can help to clear out blocked sinuses. This is due to the presence of menthol, an active compound that improves airflow in the nasal cavity. 7
How to Consume Peppermint
If you want to add more peppermint to your diet, there are a number of ways you can do so. You can take peppermint oil capsules, brew peppermint tea, or add fresh peppermint to your favorite recipes for a refreshing boost of flavor. People who are prone to heartburn, have kidney stones, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should avoid consuming peppermint. Consuming peppermint for prolonged periods of time can also lead to symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux and should be used longer term with caution.
Spring Pea and Mint Soup
This simple spring pea soup packs in the flavor with fresh mint and lemon juice. Serve it as a side dish or as the main event with thick slices of fresh bread.
Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University
- 2 tbsp. Butter or non dairy butter
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, small dice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 lb. potato, peeled and medium dice
- to taste kosher salt
- to taste white pepper
- 1 1⁄2 quart chicken or vegetable stock
- 1⁄2 quart heavy cream or coconut creme
- 1 lb. fresh peas, shelled
- 1⁄4 cup creme fraiche (may leave out for dairy-free version)
- 1⁄2 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 oz fresh mint
- to taste pea shoots
Heat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan.
Add the onion and sweat for about 4 minutes or until tender.
Add the garlic and sweat for 2 minutes, until tender but not brown.
Add the potatoes, a big pinch of salt and white pepper, and the stock and cream. Simmer this mixture for about 20 minutes or until the potato is soft.
Taste for salt and pepper and correct if needed.
Fill another 4-quart pot with water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the peas and blanche for less than a minute in the boiling water. Drain the peas through a strainer or colander, then place in an ice bath to halt the cooking.
When ready to serve, put 1½ ounces of peas into the blender along with the mint leaves and ½ cup of the hot soup base. Blend until smooth.
Add the blended soup back to the pot and re-warm. Taste the soup, adjust salt, pepper, and add more lemon juice if needed.
In a small mixing bowl, add the creme fraiche with zest and juice from half a lemon.
Serve warm soup with a dollop of lemon creme fraiche and garnish with pea shoots
If you are interested in promoting health through nutrition and herbal supplements, a career in naturopathic medicine may be the right choice for you.