Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) is actually a hybrid herb of watermint and spearmint. The plant is native to Europe but is now commonly grown worldwide. As with many of the botanicals we use in our Healthipops, they have a long history of being used in herbal remedies, with many of them dating back to usage in ancient Egypt. In fact, Peppermint has often been referred to as the “world’s oldest medicine”.
Peppermint contains Vitamin A & C, iron, potassium and are also high in fibre. These health benefits result in peppermints wide use in both health products as well as mouthwash and toothpaste for its refreshing taste (don’t worry this doesn’t mean our lollipops taste minty). The health benefits of Peppermint extract are wide ranging and many studies have been conducted to support such use of peppermint in health products.
Easing Digestive Upsets
Peppermint tea is also commonly used to relieve indigestion and bloating. Scientific studies have been conducted to support such usage. In one study of almost 2,000 children, peppermint leaf was found to help significantly ease length and severity of stomach pains. Another study looking at individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) discovered that peppermint contributed to the easing of IBS symptoms (another example study). An article in the British Medical Journal found that peppermint acts as an antispasmodic in treating IBS. Antispasmodic refers to properties that help to reduce the intensity or frequency of muscle spasms.
Studies have demonstrated that Peppermint has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties. These properties lend themselves to help fight sinus infections, common colds and even allergies. The anti-inflammatory property of peppermint further suggests that peppermint can help to calm muscles, particularly stomach muscles. The anti-inflammatory properties have also been linked to helping with inflammations of the skin including acne, skin allergies and blisters.
Headaches & Nausea
Peppermint’s health properties also serve as muscle relaxants as well as a mild pain reliever which can help with the easing of stress/tension headaches. Studies on peppermint tea in particular have found that the relaxing nature of peppermint is prominent, and this links not only to headaches but also IBS as mentioned previously. We use peppermint leaf in our Ear Popper Stoppers because of its link to calming nausea and particularly helping with travel sickness.
Homemade peppermint leaf tea
For a stronger dose of peppermint, especially if you want the minty freshness you can make peppermint leaf tea at home.
Drying the Leaves
If you have some time on your hands then you can hang your leaves to dry. Simply use an elastic band to tie together the stems and hang them up in a warm and dry place. When the leaves are brittle to touch that's when they are ready to be used for a brew, this normally takes around two weeks. Once ready, carefully remove the leaves from the stalks and store in an air tight container or jar.
If you don't have as much patience (like me) then you can use the oven to get the same effect. Prepare the leaves for the oven by giving them a quick wash and removing any of the thicker stalks. Lay the leaves out flat on some baking paper and put in the oven at a low 40 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. As all ovens are different keep an eye on the leaves so as to avoid them catching. If this isn't long enough, then keep checking every 15minutes. As with the hanging method, you know the leaves are done when they are brittle. Once done package them up like before in an air tight container or jar.
When it comes to brewing your peppermint tea it is all down to personal preference. I personally use 2 heaped tsps of leaves and leave to brew in a mug of water for about two minutes. The longer you leave the leaves to brew the stronger the minty flavour so its about experimenting to see what you like. (Top tip: leave your water to settle for a few moments once boiling to avoid burning the leaves with scolding water.)