December 23, 2019 | Abby Caviness
Peppermint mocha, oil, bark, candles, lotion, candy canes, hot chocolate…the list goes on and on.
Whatever your vehicle, the addition of peppermint to some of your favorite recipes and cosmetic products can be the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit. And while it is great for its delicious flavor, it also has some potential health benefits. So, USHEALTH Group® is giving you the lowdown on peppermint—with a twist!
What Are the Benefits of Peppermint?
Traditionally, peppermint is believed to have a calming effect while also potentially remedying several conditions, including:1
- Depression-related anxiety
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- The common cold
- Menstrual pains
- Muscle and nerve pain
- The common cold
However, none of these claimed benefits are proven fact, so individuals should always do their own research or consult their healthcare provider for advice before use.1
Can Peppermint Be Harmful?
In certain circumstances, peppermint can cause some adverse reactions. For example, it is not recommended for people who:1
- Have diabetes
- Have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Suffer from hiatal hernia
Reactions With Prescription Drugs
Additionally, consumption of the oil may interact negatively with some prescription drugs, including:1
- Drugs that lower blood sugar
- Medications that are metabolized by the liver
- Pepcid, Zantac, and drugs that reduce stomach acid
- Prescriptions for hypertension or high blood pressure
Additionally, it is not recommended for pregnant women, children, or babies to use the oil due to its menthol content.1 As a safety precaution, before you decide to take peppermint as a remedy to your symptoms, check with your healthcare provider to ensure you will not have a bad reaction.
What Are the Side Effects of Peppermint?
Since you can use peppermint in several ways, there are different side effects associated with each use. Whether by mouth, topically, or through aromatherapy, each use affects the body differently.
By mouth, possible side effects of peppermint include:2
- Dry mouth
However, it is not recommended to take the oil by mouth. In fact, it can be toxic to humans when taken in large doses.3 When included in recipes, peppermint extract can be used and does not typically cause a reaction, unless an individual is allergic.
Some individuals may also use the oil on their skin, though it is recommended you add the oil to a carrier oil or lotion to dilute its potency.3 In addition, using the oil on your skin can cause a reaction if you are allergic, resulting in a rash or irritation. To protect yourself from a massive skin reaction, perform a patch test on a small area of your skin first before continuing use.3
What Is the Difference Between Peppermint and Spearmint?
Many of your favorite holiday recipes may call for mint, but which mint are they referring to? While there are more than 15 types of mint, the recipe is likely calling for either peppermint or spearmint. So, what is the difference?
Peppermint’s flavor is described as “spicier” than its counterparts—hence the name. It is typically more well-known than spearmint; however, it is just a hybrid of spearmint and water mint.4 Because it is a mix of the two mints, it is significantly more potent as it contains 40 percent menthol—while spearmint only has 0.5 percent. Also, you will typically find this mint used in baking and candy-making.4
On the other hand, spearmint is referred to as a “sweeter” mint with a delicate flavor and fragrance. Since it gets its flavor from the chemical “carvone,” you will not experience the same cooling effect from the menthol as you do with peppermint.4 In use, you will typically find spearmint in commercial products, such as shaving cream, toothpaste, and chewing gum. Also, spearmint is often used in more savory recipes rather than sweet.4
So, depending on your recipe and the information provided, we will let you decide which mint to include! Regardless, you cannot go wrong with a little mint—of any variety!
Bonus: Peppermint Hot Chocolate Recipe5
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3 drops peppermint oil
- Sweetened whipped cream
- Chocolate shavings
First, combine cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Then, heat over medium-low heat. When the cream mixture begins to steam, add the chopped chocolate, and stir continuously until melted. When melted, stir in the oil. Lastly, pour into mugs, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and enjoy!
This “peppery” mint can be a fun addition to your holiday recipe, like sprinkling crushed candy canes on top of your hot chocolate. Also, if you are more interested in its potential health benefits, adding a few drops of the oil to your favorite lotion may be a good option for you. However, with any new addition to your health routine, it is important to explore the potential harm these kinds of products can cause to your body if you are not careful. Once cleared by your healthcare provider and proper research, you can be on your way to a holiday filled with all the peppermint your heart desires!
*This material is provided by USHEALTH Group® for informational/educational purposes only and should not replace medical/clinical advice or direction from your health care provider.
- Brazier, Yvette, “Health benefits and risks of peppermint,” MedicalNewsToday.com, last modified June 27, 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265214.php
- WebMD, “Peppermint,” WebMD.com, accessed December 19, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-705/peppermint
- Seladi-Schulman, Jill, “About Peppermint Oil Uses and Benefits,” Healthline.com, last modified April 25, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-peppermint-oil#who-should-avoid
- Higley, Annamarie, “What’s the Difference Between Peppermint and Spearmint?” RD.com, accessed December 19, 2019, https://www.rd.com/food/fun/difference-between-peppermint-and-spearmint/
- Riley, Jackie, “Peppermint Hot Chocolate,” FoodNetwork.com, accessed December 19, 2019, https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/peppermint-hot-chocolate-recipe-1913057