5 Remarkable Ways Peppermint Can Boost Your Health

We’re forced to turn down a number of snacks and treats during the holiday season for the sake of our health, but there’s at least one wintertime snack we can rely on to keep us fit, both mentally and physically: peppermint. Don’t put down those candy canes just yet, because this natural ingredient offers health benefits that every one of us can use.

Read on to learn five surprising health benefits of peppermint. Here’s to a guiltless holiday season!

Source: iStock

1. It aids indigestion

Peppermint can help cure health issues in the abdominals and digestive tract, reports Harvard Medical School’s HEALTHbeat newsletter. Multiple studies have pointed to the ingredient’s effectiveness in treating and relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which include cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. One 2007 experiment found that 75% of patients who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks saw a major decline in IBS symptoms, compared with just 38% of patients who took a placebo pill.

Source: iStock

2. It may help clear a stuffy nose

Menthol, one of the biggest active ingredients in peppermint, has not been proven to clear the nasal passages, but a 2008 study published in Pediatric Pulmonology found that the substance does increase subjects’ perception of nasal airflow. Menthol is frequently used in over-the-counter decongestants, such as topical ointments, to lend a feeling of greater nasal airflow to patients — when you’re feeling under the weather, a little psychological pick-me-up can go a long way!

Source: iStock

3. It curbs appetite

Having trouble resisting the holiday season’s many decadent dishes? Try sniffing a bit of peppermint to curb those cravings! The Chicago Tribune reports on a study in which half the volunteers sniffed the scent of peppermint every two hours. The volunteers who sniffed the scent ate, on average, 2,800 fewer calories per week than the non-sniffing group. As the Tribune notes, that’s enough to lose a full pound!

Source: iStock

4. It boosts concentration

If you’re struggling with alertness and concentration, another sniff of peppermint might be in order. A study at Wheeling Jesuit University monitored subjects during driving under three different odor conditions: peppermint, cinnamon, and non-odor (the control group). Subjects in each test condition were monitored for wakefulness, cognitive performance, and mood. The results indicated that subjects exposed to the scent of peppermint experienced a decrease in anxiety, fatigue, and frustration levels while driving, while also becoming more alert. Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, who led the study, noted that the periodic release of these scents over long-term driving could abate the threats of road rage and highway traffic accidents.

Source: iStock

5. It eases tension headaches

A 1996 study published in Der Nervenarzt, translated by the National Institutes of Health, found that a 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution effectively alleviated tension headaches, making the substance a natural, well-tolerated, and cost-efficient alternative to therapies such as acetaminophen. If you can’t seem to manage the stress of the holiday season, you’ll be shocked at how much better you’ll feel after you polish off a candy cane!

More from Life Cheat Sheet: