As the season of candy canes and peppermints is now upon us, it is the perfect time to discuss the medicinal benefits of the herb that gives these winter treats their flavor. The therapeutic effects of fresh peppermint leaves and peppermint essential oil have been known since ancient times. Dried peppermint leaves have even been found in several Egyptian pyramids dating as far back as 1,000 BC, and peppermint leaves were rubbed on tables in ancient Greece because the aroma was a welcoming symbol for guests. But today, modern research has continued to prove that peppermint is one of nature’s most valuable herbal remedies.

Peppermint oil capsules safely help alleviate symptoms of IBS, and research has shown that there was a 50% reduction in “total irritable bowel syndrome score” among 75% of patients who tried it. It is also helpful for a number of gastric disorders, such as upset stomach, indigestion, colonic spasm, chemotherapy related nausea and even infantile colic. Peppermint relaxes the muscles of your intestines, which eases abdominal pain.

Extracts from peppermint leaves may also inhibit histamine release, which suggests it may help alleviate allergy and hay fever symptoms. It also acts as a decongestant and may help clear your respiratory tract. Aside from respiratory benefits, peppermint oil may help relieve tension headache pain, and it has been shown to enhance memory and increase alertness. Adding a few drops to your bath or putting the oil in a burner can act as instant stress reliever because of its cooling and energizing properties. Aside from the aromatherapy benefits, you can also try blending peppermint oil into your shampoo, body wash, or body lotion for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Peppermint contains menthol, which may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. It also may help to relieve muscle spasms and pain.

At your next chiropractic appointment, be sure to discuss natural remedies like peppermint with your doctors, along with probiotics for good gut health all season long.