‘Tis the season for all things peppermint—whether it’s hot cocoa spiked with minty flavor, candy canes being hung on a tree or smashed on top of chocolate bark (like in this Peppermint Mocha Chocolate Bark recipe). And there are plenty of reasons to love mint, beyond the icy cool flavor. Here are four unique and somewhat surprising health benefits to this often overlooked herb.
Boost Your Memory
Keep your shopping list or to-do list top of mind with peppermint tea. In a study presented at the British Psychological Society, people who sipped a cup of peppermint tea before taking a memory test performed better than those who drank chamomile tea or hot water.
Feeling low on stamina? Try flavoring your water with peppermint oil. Adding a drop (.05 mL) of peppermint oil to about 2 cups of water daily for 10 days helped men run nearly 15 minutes longer on the treadmill, according to a study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Tame Your Tummy
Peppermint-oil supplements (one to two 0.2 mL capsules three times a day) may ease abdominal pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome (a condition that affects up to 15 percent of Americans), according to a review published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. Another study, from the University of Adelaide in Australia, found that mint’s cooling properties may calm hypersensitive nerves in the gut that trigger IBS pain.
Pick up a peppermint oil diffuser or light a peppermint candle—it may help curb those cravings, according to preliminary research out of Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. When people sniffed peppermint regularly (every two hours), they ate 560 fewer calories daily.