Mint is an integral part of our day to day life, right from refreshing our breath thanks to its freshening, cooling sensation, to adding flavor and taste to our foods and skincare products, toothpaste, and air fresheners. But did you know that tea made from peppermint leaves can be beneficial to your health and offer therapeutic effects?
Yes, you read that right! Mint tea offers many health, oral, and skin benefits. A cup of this tea every day can help you lead a stress-free, relaxed, and happy life. Before we discuss mint tea benefits, let's talk what it is.
Typically, this tea is made from peppermint or spearmint leaves. Peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint plant and water mint plant. It is a perennial plant that has bright green leaves.
The mint family comprises of ancient plants that are available in over 30 different species and has been used in the culinary world for many centuries. Its name come from Greek nymph, Menthe.
The tradition of drinking this tea has spread across the world with peppermint tea widely popular in Europe, where it is valued for its digestive properties and cooling taste. Spearmint is popular in North Africa, especially in Morocco, where it used as a slightly caffeinated drink.
Let’s talk about these two varieties of mint
Peppermint and spearmint are two varieties of mint and share many health benefits. Spearmint derives its name from its pointed leaves while peppermint, which is a hybrid of spearmint and water mint, has rounder leaves.
Traditionally, peppermint tea was used to aid digestion and as a palate cleanser. It has intense menthol content that gives it cooling properties. It is rich in Vitamin C and contains minerals including copper, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
This tea variety shares many health benefits with peppermint, although it has a lesser amount of essential menthol, and thus is softer and sweeter in taste.
It is rich in antioxidants including vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, as well as thiamin, vitamin B6, and riboflavin. These antioxidants are majorly what makes it beneficial to the body.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the health benefits of mint tea
Studies show that peppermint may help relax the muscles and offer relief to painful joints, hence may help with certain types of headaches (1)
The herb contains menthol, which offers a cooling sensation to the body while also enhancing the flow of blood in the body, which alleviates pain (2).
In a randomized study involving 35 people with migraines, peppermint oil was compared to a placebo oil to show the effect of mint on migraines. Peppermint oil was applied to the forehead of the victims, which showed a significant decrease in pain in 2 hours compared to a placebo oil (3).
Another study involving 41 people with a headache showed that when peppermint was applied on the forehead, it was as effective as 1000 mg of acetaminophen (4)
While the aroma of menthol in mint may help relax the muscles and ease headaches, there is no much proof to confirm this effect. However, research suggests that peppermint oil may reduce tension headaches, and migraines.
In the same way that peppermint oil was found to help with migraine and headaches, you can reap these benefits by taking it in the form of tea.
Use loose dried tealeaves or even fresh mint leaves to make your peppermint tea, then add honey to add taste and serve.
Menthol is a naturally occurring chemical that is known for its refreshing and icy-hot sensation. For people with clogged sinuses, the compound fights the problem by calming the inflamed mucous membranes in the throat and sinuses.
Peppermint has antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, the tea may help fight clogged sinuses and allergies (5).
Additionally, studies demonstrate that menthol found in peppermint oil enhances airflow in the nasal cavity. Because of this, inhaling the steam from peppermint tea may help ease breathing (6).
While there is limited evidence that mint tea may unclog sinuses, drinking a warm beverage containing menthol may help you breathe easier.
Peppermint tea can also do wonders for your ailing tummy. Stomach issues, such as motion sickness, constipation, and IBS, are quite common nowadays. But not anymore due to the menthol present in peppermint. This chemical soothes the stomach, which aids in relieving digestion process.
A study carried out in 2011 showed why peppermint might help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The compounds found in peppermint help reduce pain in the colon by activating an anti-pain channel. This channel is known as TRPM8, may ease pain caused by eating spicy foods such as chili or mustard (7).
Another study published by the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in 2014 compared the efficacy of peppermint oil capsules with a placebo for the treatment of active irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint was found to have significantly superior improvement of IBS symptoms compared to placebo. However, some patients reported heartburn (8).
Because Peppermint oil has been used to treat IBS effectively, most healthcare practitioners believe that drinking peppermint tea regularly may help with the condition.
When it's that time of the month, and you are not pleased because of menstrual cramps, try sipping mint tea during the day to ease discomfort. The herb acts as a muscle relaxant and may relax the muscles of your lower abdomen. While limited studies are showing the effects of peppermint tea on dysmenorrhea, compounds in peppermint have been used to relieve symptoms.
In one study carried out on 127 women with menstrual cramps, peppermint extracts were found to be more effective than mefenamic acid in fighting the intensity and period of cramps (9).
Therefore, it is possible that taking peppermint tea when experiencing painful periods may have a similar effect since it helps prevent muscle contractions.
The first thing people reach when trying to mask bad breath is mint-flavored chewing gum. In case you have a problem with bad breath, experts agree that mint can be a solution for a few hours. The good news is that it not only covers bad breath but also kills the bacteria or other compounds causing bad breath.
A recent study from 2017 found that gargling a blend of mint, tea tree oils, and lemon helped to improve bad breath after spine surgery (10)
On the other hand, taking peppermint tea or chewing on fresh leaves offers a fresher breath. Test tube studies also highlight the antibacterial effects of peppermint oil (11, 12). These studies suggest that its antibacterial properties may help reduce the bacteria that lead to plaque disease.
To enjoy the fresh breath benefits of peppermint, brew a cup of tea made from the herb in the morning or when you start feeling bad breath. In case you consume smelly foods such as onions or garlic, the tea can help neutralize the odors. For best results, make sure that you prepare peppermint tea from real peppermint and not flavorings.
Can't sleep? Drinking mint tea before bedtime has been proven to offer more restful sleep. This benefit is as a result of menthol content found in this herb. It not only bring about muscle relaxation for a more restful sleep; this tea has properties that can bring about vivid dreams.
Peppermint tea, like most herbal teas, is caffeine-free, which means it is unlikely to cause insomnia. It contains compounds that bring feelings of calmness before bedtime. For pregnant women who may experience nausea and early morning sickness, this herb can alleviate such symptoms.
In a study published in the Journal of Natural Science Research, peppermint oil was offered to 101 women who reported daily morning sickness. The conclusion of this study found that this herb reduced the occurrence of these symptoms (13).
Additionally, if you are having a hard time falling asleep because of symptoms of indigestion, a cup of peppermint tea before bedtime may help soothe your stomach. (14), according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Additionally, in case you experience insomnia due to stress, this herb can relieve stress and bring a feeling of calmness for better sleep.
Are you finding it hard to concentrate? Peppermint tea may help you focus better. A study done by the International Journal of Neuroscience documented that peppermint tea can help increase concentration and focus. (15)
In another study conducted by the University of Cincinnati, peppermint scent was found boost concentration by stimulating the hippocampus, which serves as a brain's memory center that boosts alertness. The study concluded that the scent was more important than the tea after peppermint scent was diffused in a room with test-takers who ended up having better focus and concentration. (15)
To benefit from peppermint tea, sip it slowly as you breathe in the scent. You can also make a homemade peppermint humidifier by steeping peppermint tea in an uncovered teapot in the room you want to humidify. The scent of the mint will fill the room and improve your focus.
Acne is common among many people, which is why you should incorporate mint tea into your home remedies skin routines for getting rid of acne.
Regular usage of this tea can help you control and eradicate those stubborn red pimples that bring acne. Yes, the process may be slower compared to when you use commercial products, but it has long term effects.
For people with oily skin that is prone to frequent emergence of pimples, the cooling effect of menthol may help lower secretion of oil from sebaceous glands. This, in turn, prevents pimple and acne outbreak.
As with most teas, mint tea can have minor side effects including;
People with acid influx ailments or similar diseases such as GERD, should not take mint tea. This is because the tea can relax muscles in the digestive system, thereby preventing bile and stomach acid from flowing into the esophagus. By drinking this tea, you can experience heartburn and indigestion, which is why you should avoid it.
As with many herbal teas, mint tea can be dangerous to pregnant women. This tea can increase the risk of miscarriages, which is why you should avoid or limit its consumption. Women should also avoid this tea when breastfeeding since it can cause breathing problems in children and infants.
As with most herbal teas, mint teas does not interact well with a drug meant to treat certain ailments. Therefore, if you are under medication, it is important that you talk to your doctor to see if it can interact well with the medication you are using.
Irrespective of whether you have loose leaf teas, tea bags, or fresh peppermint leaves from your garden, the method of preparing mint tea is almost the same:
Step 1- preparing leaves
If you have loose leaf tea, use an infuser to keep the tea leaves contained. However, if you are using fresh peppermint leaves, you need to grind them to release intense menthol flavor. For tea bags, brew according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the packaging.
Step 2- Boil water
Peppermint tea is sweeter when brewed using hot water instead of boiling water. Therefore, allow your boiled water to cool for a minute before pouring tea leaves into your teapot.
Step 3- steep
Allow peppermint leaves to steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on the flavor you want to achieve. Fresh peppermint leaves should be given more time to steep to produce more flavor.
Enjoy your tea.
Mint tea offers a refreshing and delightful way of staying healthy and can help boost your overall health. This tea is known to boost immunity, reduce pains and aches, and also improve digestion, among other benefits. Its invigorating menthol flavor makes it one of the most popular teas in the world.
For many years, extracts from peppermint and spearmint have been used to treat different health problems, and recent studies are still proving that it is beneficial for our health. With a delicious and refreshing aroma, it is no wonder that this tea is regarded as one of the most tasteful and beneficial to your overall health.