Peppermint, left, and Corsican mint ( Public domain)
Peppermint is healthful and stimulating when eaten, drunk, inhaled or applied to the skin, researchers are finding. The ancients of Greece knew it, as did Renaissance English healers.
It sounds too good to be true, that a common candy ingredient that tastes so good is also good for what ails you.
Is there a better-tasting candy than a mint? Some might say chocolate tastes better. But those who say it have all the finesse and sophistication of a rough brute and obviously have such bad taste that they cannot tell the difference between a merely good confection (chocolate) and one that is transcendent (mint). (Just kidding! To each his own.). But really, in a peppermint patty, what is given top billing? Hint: They're not called chocolate patties.
The site Medical News Today has an article about the many benefits of peppermint that states:
The University of Maryland Medical Center website echoes Medical News Today with an article detailing the menthol herb's many benefits:
Peppermint ( Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. It has a calming and numbing effect, and is often used to treat headaches, skin irritation, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, flatulence, and anxiety associated with depression. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs used to treat symptoms of the common cold. In test tubes, peppermint kills some types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, suggesting it may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Menthol and methyl salicylate, the main ingredients in peppermint, have antispasmodic effects, with calming effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Several studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.
Viter Energy Mints is aware of the herb's invigorating qualities and includes it in the mint's ingredients, along with other enlivening components, including caffeine and B vitamins. A Viter Energy Mint under the tongue can invigorate the mind and turn a person feeling dull in the morning or blase during the afternoon slump into a mental energy tycoon. Or they may feel at least a bit more invigorated.
The Underground Health Reporter website reports on "Brain Boosting with Peppermint":
Most people are familiar with candy peppermints but research has shown that drinking peppermint tea, inhaling peppermint via a diffuser, or applying peppermint oil to the skin are actually more effective for boosting mental alertness. Peppermint health benefits are also available in capsule form as a supplement.
But it is the scent of peppermint more than the ingestion of peppermint that is crucial.
Contrary to many articles, the health benefits of peppermint does not make you smarter. However, its scent -- primarily the menthol component -- stimulates the hippocampus area of the brain which controls mental clarity and memory. The odor triggers you to wake up and pay attention.
The University of Cincinnati found that using peppermint in a room of test-takers boosted alertness and concentration.
Wheeling Jesuit University found that drivers exposed to peppermint health benefits were more alert, less tired, more motivated and less irritable. They found that peppermint slowed the release of the stress hormone cortisol and kept drivers calm yet awake.
Plus, says Underground Health Report, peppermint has anti-microbial, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-spasmodic properties.
The University of Maryland Medical Center says ingestion of peppermint allows muscles to relax to promote flatulence and the expulsion of gases that make you uncomfortable.
Perhaps even more important, studies show peppermint helps with irritable bowel syndrome. The medical center says:
Several studies have shown that enteric-coated peppermint capsules can help treat symptoms of IBS, including pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (Enteric-coated capsules keep peppermint oil from being released in the stomach, which can cause heartburn and indigestion.) However, a few studies have shown no effect.
Applied to the skin, peppermint can relieve itching from poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac. A small study found that when applied to the forehead peppermint can relieve headache pain. And peppermint is a known decongestant that can help alleviate cold and flu symptoms. The medical center article states:
Because menthol thins mucus, it is also a good expectorant, meaning it helps loosen phlegm and breaks up coughs. It is soothing and calming for sore throats (pharyngitis) and dry coughs.
Peppermint plants are native to Asia and Europe, but it also is naturalized to North America and some varieties are indigenous to South Africa, South American and Australia. The plants grow 2 to 3 feet in height and bloom in July and August. The plant's leaves and stems have menthol, the main ingredient that is used in medicines, foods and cosmetics.
Peppermint is included in tea from its dried leaves; as a spirit or tincture of 10 percent peppermint oil and 1 percent peppermint leaf extract in alcohol; as enteric-coated capsules that prevent the pill from dissolving until it enters the intestine; and as creams and ointments.
Viter Energy Mints delivers peppermint as a flavorful mint that can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) to deliver the essence right into the bloodstream in a hurry.
Peppermint should not be given to babies or young kids. Adults can drink copious amounts of tea, take one to two capsules two or three times a day, or three or four applications to the skin as ointment for itching, the University of Maryland Medical Center states.
The University of Maryland Medical Center article has several precautions and drug interaction warnings that should be noted.
As Viter Energy Mints blog has reported before, the European Food Safety Authority did a study of how much caffeine is OK. It found what Mayo and the National Sleep Foundation reported that about 400 mg per day of caffeine "do not raise safety concerns." Also, about 200 mg in one dose right before exercise is OK.
Each of our Viter Energy Mints contain 40 mg of caffeine, so limit your intake to about 10 mints per day to avoid getting too much of a good thing.
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Caffeine appears to raise blood pressure, in some people in the short term and in others in the long term. This is an important question because 80 percent of Americans drink coffee every day and about 90 percent of people worldwide consume caffeine in one product or another.
It's also an important question because high blood pressure can cause strokes or heart attacks.
Whatever you do, don't begin using caffeine to treat ADHD without a doctor's advice. Parents with children with ADHD especially should take this advice to heart. Caution should be used by other people who have other health problems, such as anxiety, high blood pressure, glaucoma or heart, liver or kidney disease.
One doctor says: "Caffeine is not the answer for real, bonafide ADHD. I don't want parents to be deluded into a false sense of security that if I just go to the local Starbucks, I'm going to cure my son or daughter's ADHD."
Coffee is good for you. Two recent studies have shown that coffee can increase the length of the lives of those who drink it. It can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The two studies, which followed two large groups of coffee drinkers for 16 years, have shown that you can coffee and healthful living too.
"The key message is that people can drink coffee," associate professor of preventive medicine Victoria Setiawan at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California told TODAY. "It seems there's no long-term harm."