You can keep a peppermint planting simply for its delightful saw-toothed leaves and delicate flowers or for the spicy fragrance released when the leaves are crushed between your fingers. However, once you learn to use the peppermint plant for medicinal purposes, you may become an even greater fan.
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Within the pharmaceutical community, many home remedies were written off as old wives tales, but recent university research has revealed that many of our grandmother’s recommendations for how to use peppermint plant were indeed accurate and effective.
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Here are some proven facts:
Digestion – Peppermint is good for indigestion and bloating. As a carminative herb, peppermint has the ability to expel gas from the stomach and intestines by relaxing the muscles involved. It has also been used to successfully treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It should not, however, be used for the treatment of Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) as it may further relax the muscles that prevent the backflow of stomach acid thus worsening the problem.
Colds and Flu – Peppermint is a natural decongestant. One of the herb’s active ingredients is menthol, which thins mucus and will therefore loosen phlegm and reduce coughs. It is soothing to sore throats.
Type II Diabetes – Test-tube results show that peppermint may aid in lowering blood sugar and may prove helpful to mild or pre-diabetic patients. This comes with a word of warning. When combined with medication, it may result in Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Blood Pressure – Results are similar to those of blood sugar and the same cautions apply.
It would be remiss if we failed to mention some concerns in health care of peppermint oils and extracts. Some of these include the following:
- Peppermint can make gallstones worse.
- Large doses of peppermint oil can be fatal and any amount used on the hands or face of an infant or toddler can cause breathing spasms that may result in death.
- While likely safe to use, no definitive studies have been done of peppermint’s effect on pregnancy.
- Lastly, NEVER take peppermint with an immunosuppressant.
As with all herbs, there can be unforeseen side effects or interactions with other supplements or medications and any regular use should be discussed with your health care provider.