7. September 2012 13:26
As more Americans become interested in a more natural and holistic lifestyle, many are turning to herbal remedies instead of pharmaceutical options for treating minor ailments. With its aromatic and health properties, as well as a pleasing flavor, peppermint is a popular and readily available herb. One of the most common preparations is peppermint tea, although peppermint tea isn’t a true tea. This herbaceous plant is completely separate from camellia sinensis, the plant that produces all varieties of true tea. The more accurate name for peppermint tea would be peppermint infusion, or peppermint tisane.
A peppermint infusion is made by steeping the dried leaves of the peppermint plant in boiling water. The essential oils in peppermint leaves provide a wealth of health benefits; for the strongest concentration of these oils in your peppermint infusion, cover the cup while it steeps. A cover traps more of the essential oils in the cup, creating a healthier and tastier infusion. These essential oils are packed with compounds that have a relaxing effect on the digestive system; the peppermint tisane is effective in, and perhaps best known for, its ability to calm an upset stomach. Regular consumption of peppermint tisane has been shown to reduce the symptoms of certain chronic digestive conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. The analgesic properties of peppermint aid the associated discomfort, while the relaxing effect is calming and soothing. Peppermint also has some anesthetic properties that may be effective against a number of other conditions and disorders.
Menthol, a main component of peppermint, is a powerful compound with multiple benefits. Its strong and refreshing aroma has an invigorating and energizing effect; it can help to increase mental alertness and fight fatigue. The physiological impact of menthol can bring welcome relief from the symptoms of allergies and the common cold. The menthol in peppermint thins mucus; the steam from a hot peppermint tisane can be inhaled to clear the nasal passages, and ingested to break up congestion in the throat. It also acts as an expectorant, and can soothe the pain of a sore throat. In fact, frequent consumption of peppermint infusions may be more effective at easing the suffering of a cold or allergies than pharmaceutical remedies. It’s also safer, gentler, and presents with far fewer side effects.
A peppermint tisane is also a great source of antioxidants, which can keep you healthy. It’s hot and comforting in cold weather, and can be served over ice for a refreshing summer drink. If the flavor and aroma of a pure peppermint infusion is too strong for you, there are plenty of options out there. Peppermint is nicely complemented by a variety of other herbal flavors; berries, vanilla, cacao, and earthy herbs like jasmine taste great when blended with peppermint. It’s easy to find a blend from the many brands on the market, or to create your own favorite combination with loose dried herbals. Treat yourself to great flavor, energizing aroma, and countless health benefits with a refreshing and invigorating peppermint tisane.