Do you have a cold right now? If so, you might want to consider drinking some soothing peppermint tea. Peppermint has been shown to lessen inflammation in the nasal passages, and as a result reduce congestion that often goes along with colds. In case you are wondering it this is also true for people dealing with seasonal allergies, the answer appears to be yes! If you drink peppermint tea, and try to inhale some of the menthol aroma while you are at it, your cold or your allergy symptoms may improve, at least for awhile.
Along these lines, peppermint may help those with mild asthma because of its natural ability to reduce bronchial constriction. It can also work as an expectorant, which means it can help with other respiratory issues like sinusitis and bronchitis. This is one reason that some cough syrups and other medicines that you rub on the chest include menthol as an ingredient—it’s not just because it smells good, it’s because it appears to have a direct and proven effect on congestion.
Is your head pounding? You might want to try applying a diluted form of peppermint oil right on your forehead. For some people, this helps ease the pain of a headache.
Are you under a lot of stress? If so, peppermint may be to the rescue once again. Like other essential oils, peppermint oil may help us feel better if we are stressed out, anxious, depressed and/or mentally drained. This effect is mainly due to its refreshing aroma. If you have some peppermint bubble bath and pour it into the tub while the water is running, the smell may actually help you feel less tense and fatigued.
Peppermint comes in the forms already listed above (candies, beauty products, teas, etc.), and it also is available in a supplement form. Whatever health issue you are trying to ease with peppermint will probably dictate which version you use. For example, for nausea, flatulence and digestive issues, most people do the best with peppermint tea. For gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome and mild asthma, many take the peppermint oil capsules. And for stress relief, breathing in the aroma has been found to be helpful so you’ll probably want to use the peppermint oil in warm bathwater. If you take the capsules, be sure to buy a brand that is enteric-coated so that the peppermint oil is released in the small and large intestines rather than in the stomach. Never take pure menthol, as this can be fatal, and please avoid large doses of peppermint if you are pregnant, as it can relax the uterus and cause you to go into early labor.