Top 5 health benefits of peppermint tea
Nutritional therapist Nicola Shubrook answers your peppermint tea questions, including is it good for you, does it contain caffeine, what are the benefits, and are there side effects?
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What is peppermint tea?
Peppermint tea is made by infusing peppermint leaves in hot water. You can also make spearmint tea using spearmint leaves.
Peppermint leaves contain several essential oils that are released when steeped in hot water, including menthol, menthone and limonene. Collectively, these give peppermint tea its refreshing, cooling, minty taste.
Peppermint tea can be made using fresh leaves, dried loose leaves, or teabags. In teabags, peppermint may be mixed with other flavours, such as liquorice or fruit. It’s naturally caffeine-free, so you can drink it as often as you like.
Does peppermint tea have any nutritional value?
There is no nutritional value in terms of macronutrients in peppermint tea, and it only has around two calories per 100ml. Its value is in the essential oils and the potential health benefits they present.
What are the 5 main health benefits of peppermint tea?
1. May ease bloating and indigestion
Peppermint tea is well-known for its digestive effects as some people, anecdotally, find it can help relieve symptoms such as gas and bloating. As yet, there isn’t a lot of human research on the efficacy of peppermint tea, but some animal studies do show that it can have a relaxing effective on the digestive system.
Most research has been on peppermint oil, which is more concentrated than tea, with some evidence that it may offer some short-term relief for IBS sufferers. If you’re considering using peppermint oil or tea to manage IBS symptoms, speak to your GP first to ensure that it is suitable for you.
Pure peppermint tea is caffeine-free. If you are buying a blend of peppermint tea with either black or green tea, then this will contain caffeine.
There is no research that supports claims that peppermint tea can help with sleep, but as it is caffeine-free it is completely fine to drink before bed and may help you relax.
4. May support fresher breath
Peppermint is widely used in chewing gum, mints and toothpaste to freshen breath, and thanks to its natural antibacterial properties it may help to prevent bad breath.
5. May help with a blocked nose
While drinking peppermint tea won’t get rid of the cold itself, the menthol smell of the mint together with the steam from the tea may help improve nasal airflow if you have a blocked nose.
Are there any side effects to drinking peppermint tea?
There is some evidence that peppermint tea may not be suitable for those who have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) as it may in fact exacerbate symptoms rather than offer relief. If you struggle with heartburn, or have a hiatus hernia or kidney stones, it may be prudent to avoid peppermint tea too, as while no adverse reactions have been found, it may, in some, make symptoms worse.
Some people are allergic to mint. The leaves themselves may cause irritation of the skin or eyes, such as itching and hives. If peppermint tea is consumed, then symptoms of a reaction usually occur within minutes, and may include an itchy tongue or throat, wheezing or a cough. In rare cases, this reaction can be severe and is a medical emergency.
Visit the NHS website to read more about allergies.
Can you drink too much peppermint tea?
Not really. The only side effect that you may experience would be the need for more frequent trips to the bathroom from the increased water intake.
How to buy the best peppermint tea
If you’d like to make peppermint tea using fresh leaves, you can buy a peppermint plant for your garden and cut off the fresh leaves, or buy packets of fresh leaves from a supermarket, and add to hot water. Alternatively, you can buy loose-leaf tea or teabags, which will be dried peppermint.
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Check the labels to make sure it’s 100% peppermint, and ideally if you’re buying teabags, make sure the bags are plastic-free and where possible, biodegradable.
Keep all dried tea in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.
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Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.