As we enter the season of fluctuating temps, pollen deluge and biting insects, I entreat you to think of our old friend peppermint. A familiar herb that transgresses the boundary between food and medicine (my favorite sort), peppermint is also a powerful herb that should not be underestimated.  As a stimulating aromatic, it is the perfect energetic remedy for the spring season, when our bodies need to move heat and blood to the periphery to adjust to warming temperatures. Here’s a few ways you can learn to love peppermint this season.

As A Digestive Aid
Everyone  knows that peppermint is a go-to herb for belly aches. But what you might not know, is just how effective peppermint really is.  Several clinical trials have explored its use for easing the symptoms of IBS, where it not only quiets muscle spasm in the digestive wall but also soothes inflammation and pain perception in the colon. If that wasn’t enough, peppermint also helps support healthy gall bladder function and can ease symptoms of nausea. The only time you don’t want to turn to this digestive panacea is if you suffer from gastric reflux, as it may worsen symptoms.

As A Tension Reliever
As an aromatic that calms smooth muscles and supports healthy circulation, peppermint is the perfect supportive herb for headaches caused by tension and constriction. Research has found that a small amount of diluted peppermint oil rubbed on the temples and forehead works similarly to acetaminophen in soothing symptoms. Similarly, a small amount of peppermint essential oil diluted in a carrier oil such as olive or jojoba (1 drop in 1/2 cup oil) makes a great rub for sore and tense muscles.

As A Concentration Booster
Refreshing, cooling and stimulating; the scent of peppermint is just the ticket if you need to boost mental alertness, concentration and performance. Keep the peppermint essential oil on hand the next time you need a mental boost.

As An Allergy Aid
The next time you find yourself in the midst of a sneezing attack or riddled by an attack of hives, reach for the peppermint. The high essential oil content helps to clear out congested sinuses, especially when used as a respiratory steam, and the menthol content creates a numbing and cooling property when applied to hot itchy skin and bug bites. If you use the essential oil, just remember to dilute it heavily as the undiluted oil can irritate rather than soothe.

As A Cold And Flu Remedy
A common folk remedies for seasonal illnesses consist of very hot peppermint tea taken frequently. The reason is that peppermint helps opens the pores, supporting the body during a fever.  The high essential oil content also helps to thin mucous and ease spasms in the respiratory tract – both useful properties in quieting an irritating cough.

Writer Danielle Charles Davies has a BSc in Herbal Science from Bastyr University and in addition completed two years of clinical training at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. She has a Masters Degree in Writing and has written for the the American Herbalists Guild and has also served as a food columnist. Her musings, and recipes, can be found at her blog, Teacup Chronicles.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.