The holiday season wouldn’t be the same without a little peppermint. It’s a classic holiday flavor and scent that conjures up festive memories for many of us. But did you know that peppermint can actually aid digestion, sharpen concentration and soothe tight muscles?
A hybrid of water mint and spearmint, peppermint is one of the oldest herbs to be used for therapeutic purposes. It’s thought to have originated in Asia, though evidence of peppermint has been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 1000 BCE.
Peppermint oil has long been known for its digestive and anti-nausea benefits. The flavonoids found in peppermint leaves increase bile production, assisting digestion. Peppermint also has a soothing effect on the colon and can reduce muscle spasms.
Tea made from peppermint leaves has a high menthol content, which can soothe a sore throat and relieve an overburdened, irritated digestive system — as well that “I wish I hadn’t eaten that last brownie” feeling.
Here are 3 creative ways to use peppermint this holiday season:
1. Boost your concentration and focus. Place 1 or 2 drops of peppermint essential oil on a Kleenex, and sniff as needed. (This is great for a stuffy nose too.) Just be sure to keep your eyes closed as you sniff — the menthol properties are strong.
2. Make time for a long bath and add a little peppermint oil. Mix 3-4 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1 oz. of whole milk — the fat content in the milk will act as a dispersant for the oil. Or try putting a few drops on a face cloth and laying it on the shower floor while you take your morning shower. The vapors will rise with the steam and leave you refreshed in mind and body.
3. Whip up this handmade peppermint muscle rub for a unique gift to share with your loved ones:
Peppermint Muscle Rub
(makes 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup grated beeswax
2 tsp organic cayenne powder
2 tsp organic ginger powder
15 drops peppermint essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil
Large glass jar
Small jelly jars
- Put the coconut oil and beeswax into the large glass jar. Heat 2 inches of water in a saucepan until hot but not boiling, then remove from the heat.
- Place the glass jar with the beeswax and coconut oil mixture into the hot water bath. As the coconut and beeswax melt, stir with a disposable spoon or spatula until incorporated.
- Add the other ingredients and stir until combined.
- Pour the mixture into small jelly jars while it’s still warm. Set aside to cool and set.
- Gently massage the peppermint rub into tight muscles to ease pain and tension. As with all topical creams, test on a small area of skin first to make sure your skin is not sensitive to the ingredients.
DISCLAIMER: This rub has not been approved by any government authority and is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical care.
Image credit: Zach Bulick via Flickr (CC)