Holiday treat has healing effects

By Emily Miller • Published: January 27th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The holiday season is over, which means it is time to pack up the decorations. However, there is at least one tradition that could have perks if enjoyed year-round.

Experts say peppermint — often consumed in the form of candy canes and ice cream during the holidays — could lead to fewer health issues. Among the benefits of this age-old herbal medicine is its ability to help with stomach problems. The oil extracted from the peppermint plant contains compounds like menthol. According to researchers from McMaster University in Canada, peppermint oil should be tried before over-the-counter medications to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Studies have shown the oil to be an effective remedy for symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, cramping and abdominal pain. However, peppermint oil may cause side effects such as heartburn and may interact with certain medications, so talk to your doctor before trying this minty remedy.

Irritable bowel syndrome isn’t the only condition that could benefit from peppermint, though. Peppermint tea can be used as a mouthwash for babies with thrush, or yeast in the mouth. Pregnant woman can also drink it to reduce nausea and vomiting. Peppermint is often used as a cold or flu remedy. Some laboratory evidence has suggested that it kills bacteria and viruses, and it has a calming and numbing effect. The menthol in peppermint is a common ingredient in decongestants as it helps thin mucus and break up phlegm. Peppermint is also said to alleviate aches and pains in the body. There are positive skin benefits, too. When peppermint is used in topical creams, it may temporarily relieve itching caused by insect bites, eczema and even poison ivy.

So, stock up on peppermint and treat yourself to some holiday cheer throughout the year.