Why Drinking Peppermint Tea Before Bed is a Good Idea
Tea before bed is a ritual for many people. Fill the kettle, get the water to boiling, pour the water onto the tea, let it steep, then climb into bed and sip before falling asleep. When it comes to bedtime tea, not all varieties are equal. In fact, most normal tea isn’t going to float your boat.
For bedtime, herbal tea is where it’s at. If you really want to get yourself into a good position, you’ll skip all the other herbals and head straight for peppermint, and there’s a good reason for it. Herbal teas in general are great, but if you want to get the most out of your bedtime ritual, peppermint tea was made for you.
What is Peppermint Tea?
Peppermint tea is exactly what it sounds like: a tea derived from the leaves of the mint plant. This should not be confused with spearmint. While they have much in common, the spearmint plant contains less menthol, a compound which brings some nice benefits to the table.
Peppermint contains about 20 percent menthol, if not more, whereas peppermint pops in at around .05 percent. It’s also what gives peppermint the effect of cooling your mouth when you consume it. What all this means is that when use steep dried or fresh peppermint leaves in boiling water, you get a tea with a unique cooling effect and some added health benefits.
What are the General Health Benefits?
When you’re enjoying peppermint as a candy, such as those fantastic red and white sweets which have been in our lives since the beginning of time, you may not be consider the plethora of health benefits the plant provides. From digestive aids to pain relief, the green-leafed plant offers benefits some say are better than over-the-counter medications.
It’s important to note that, while peppermint is a great option for some issues, anything which seems major should still warrant a trip to the doctor’s office. There is a lot peppermint can do for you, but drinking a cup of tea each night won’t do the same thing as taking a prescribed antibiotic medication, for instance.
Since peppermint and the menthol within it have a cooling effect, drinking peppermint tea or using the peppermint as an oil, can have the effect of reducing a fever a few degrees. The cooling effect works to actually reduce the temperature the body is feeling, bringing down both the heat level of the fever and creating a general cooling sensation for the entire body.
This one apparently doesn’t work for everyone, but for a great many people, peppermint can have the effect of helping to reduce a headache. Headaches caused by sinus issues, for instance, can be greatly aided by the use of peppermint as the plant helps to open up respiratory pathways and relieve pressure caused by sinus buildup. It has also been found to help with the more intense migraine headaches some people develop.
When you were a kid, you may have noticed eating a piece of peppermint candy while after eating too much food helped with any feelings of discomfort. This can be taken a step further, as peppermint can also be a great aid with more intense digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. According to a study published in 2011, peppermint contains certain compounds which interact with the colon to activate an anti-pain channel which can help reduce the effects one feels after eating spicy foods. Additional studies also point out the connections between IBS and peppermint.
Nausea and Vomiting
Another great effect of peppermint is the way it can calm your stomach muscles. If you’re feeling as though you want to vomit, consuming some peppermint tea can help with that, giving your stomach a chance to relax. Additionally, peppermint has been found to increase the flow of bile, an enzyme your body produces to help digest food. Depending on the reason for your vomiting, or the feeling of wanting to vomit, drinking peppermint tea can actually remove your nausea, rather than simply reduce the discomfort it brings to the table.
By the same token, the increase of bile can actually work to make your gallbladder healthier. The gallbladder regulates the bile sent to your stomach by serving as a reservoir of sorts. As the bile sits in the gallbladder, it becomes concentrated, making it more effect when it finally gets into the stomach. If you’re suffering from gallstones, which are just like kidney stones, but develop in the gallbladder, the increased flow of bile from the user of peppermint tea can help some of them pass. Naturally, this would only work for very small gallstones. Larger ones can often require surgery to remove, and sometimes necessitate the remove of the entire gallbladder.
Peppermint’s ability to help open breathing passageways means it can be a great aid where respiratory issues are concerned. A study published in 2010 showed that peppermint oil did, in fact, help relax muscles in the respiratory system. With this in mind, it is believed peppermint, even in tea form, can be of great aid with respiratory issues such as asthma or congestion. While peppermint may not be as effective as a steroid or medication from an inhaler, consuming peppermint tea can help you breathe a bit better in a pinch and can help you deal with any congestion, as it can also serve as an expectorant.
Immune System Booster
Peppermint contains quite a bit more than just menthol. It is also loaded with calcium, vitamin B and potassium, all things which are great for giving your immune system a boost. Drinking peppermint tea on a regular basis can help keep these compounds at higher levels in your body, possibly working to keep you from getting sick. A cup of tea a day keeps the doctor away, I guess.
The strongest impact peppermint makes when it comes to weight loss isn’t necessarily connected to the pounds you’ve already packed on. Peppermint actually serves as an appetite suppressant, making you feel less hungry in the long run, thus less likely to hit up the sweets when you’ve got an itch for something special. A cup of peppermint tea can help regulate your hunger, in addition to itself being a sweet treat, but with far more benefits than some other alternatives.
Over the years, peppermint has been found to have a soothing effect on the human mind. This isn’t any sort of drug interaction, necessarily, but a general calmness one has when the cooling effect hits them. After a stressful day, or even during one, peppermint can serve to help relax you, allowing you to focus better on whatever situation is at hand.
If you’ve ever chewed peppermint gum, or taken a breath mint (note the word “mint” in there), you know well the effects peppermint can have on bad breath. The same goes for drinking peppermint tea. The essential oils in peppermint have the effect of combating bad breath, making things smell much better in the long run. This may not be as beneficial before bed as, say, brushing your teeth, but it’s something to keep in mind in a pinch.
A study performed back in the 1990s by the University of Cincinnati found that peppermint has the magical effect of increasing your concentration. The study had people taking tests inhale the scent of peppermint and found that those who did so performed far better when they had to concentrate on tasks at hand. Some schools have taken this concept and run with it, providing students taking tests with peppermint candies in an effort to help ease their stress and get them to focus.
When used topically, peppermint oils are a great way to get yourself to clearer skin. By slowing the growth of bacteria, cooling the skin and reducing the production of certain testosterone compounds, peppermint works to reduce occurrences of acne in those who use it. Consuming peppermint as a tea can offer similar effects, though perhaps not as potent as when applying it directly to the skin as an oil.
Women suffering from intense cramps due to menstruation may find some solace in knowing peppermint tea can help you out with that. For years, peppermint has been used to reduce menstrual cramping. Drinking peppermint tea throughout the day while you’re on your period is a great way to help deal with the discomfort felt during this time.
Reduces Radiation Damage
The fact peppermint tea can help reduce nausea and vomiting is just one of the reasons it can be a great option for those going through chemotherapy. Another, perhaps even better, reason is because peppermint can actually help protect your body from the harmful effects of said radiation. A study from 2010 shows peppermint can have the effect of protecting the more sensitive organs from radiation, allowing for the potential of higher doses of irradiation therapy in those who need it.
Lower Blood Sugar
While the fact peppermint lowers blood sugar is often listed in the precautions sections of websites, it can also be a good thing. In a pinch, someone who needs to get their sugar levels under control can down a cup of peppermint tea, or some other peppermint product. Should medication not be at hand, this can be a helpful alternative.
Why is Peppermint Tea Good Before Bed?
We started this whole thing on the premise that peppermint tea is good for you before bed. In the sections above, we’ve looked at why peppermint tea is good for you for a number of health reasons, but there are a few more which can be of great help if you’re trying to get a better night’s rest. Yes, the relaxing effect helps, as does the fact it can help with pain, but there are some other reasons, on a more specific basis, peppermint tea is an excellent option for your nighttime drink.
A hot cup of tea before bed may sound like a great way to wind down, but be careful. Most teas include the dreaded caffeine, which makes them fantastic for a pick-me-up during the day or for a morning boost of alertness, but makes them ill-suited for bedtime. Many herbal teas, however, don’t have caffeine. Peppermint tea is one such compound, providing all of its benefits without keeping your awake through the night.
Improves Morning Sickness
As with other forms of nausea, peppermint can be a great way to find relief from morning sickness. A cup of peppermint tea at night can make sure your morning is far more pleasant while in the early stages of pregnancy. Its calming effects on the stomach, in addition to the general digestive help, works on multiple levels in relation to morning sickness. It’s also been shown to be safe for women who are pregnant.
Relieves Gas and Bloating
If you find yourself constantly passing gas while you sleep, peppermint tea can help with that, too. Flatulence isn’t just embarrassing, it can be painful. If your body can’t properly release it, it can lead to sensations of bloating and pain, which nobody enjoys. Peppermint helps to ease your system, allowing you to more easily pass the gas before it gets to any painful levels. A cup of peppermint tea before bed is a great way to make sure you’re not waking up with abdominal pains due to held in gasses.
What are the Downsides?
Peppermint may have many excellent uses, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry any potential downsides. There are some which can have positively dire consequences, so it’s important to keep these things in mind if you don’t know how your body reacts to peppermint and its compounds. If you find you’re having any sort of negative reaction, be sure to visit a medical professional as soon as you can.
Allergic Reactions to Menthol
A menthol allergy can be just as bad, or as minor, as any other type of allergy. Those who are allergic to menthol may experience asthma-like symptoms, including trouble breathing. They may also get headaches, suffer nasal congestion, develop a rash and have itching and rashes across their body. More extreme cases can even induce anaphylaxis, which has the potential to lead to death. Considering the prevalence of menthol and peppermint, there is a fair chance you’re already going to know whether or not you’re allergic, but moving to a tea or oil is different from consuming the stuff as a mint or as gum.
Effects with Medications
Several medications have minor to moderate interactions with the compounds found in peppermint. In most cases, peppermint in the body makes it more difficult for the system to break down medications, whether in the liver or elsewhere in the digestive tract, which makes it more difficult for the body to absorb the medication at a proper pace. This can cause them to have a stronger effect, and potentially stronger side effects.Some of the more popular medications which react in this way with peppermint are ibuprofen, prilosec, valium, Celebrex, Allegra and a slew of others.
Issues with Pregnancy
Because of the calming and muscle relaxing effects of peppermint, tragedy can occur during a pregnancy. In large doses, the emmenagogue capabilities of peppermint can force a miscarriage. The menthol in the plant increases blood flow to the uterus, which is a way to help the body begin the menstruation process. Because of this, on rare occasions the uterus will be evacuated, resulting the loss of the developing child.
It should be noted that, according to the National Institutes of Health, the amount of peppermint commonly found in foods isn’t potent enough to have an effect on the gestation process, but women should still take caution when consuming peppermint as it comes in a wide variety of very enticing concoctions.
Since the food and drug administration does not oversee the production of herbal teas and herbal supplements, it’s hard to know exactly what it is that you’re drinking. There could be pesticides or other negative elements which could hamper the calming vibe you’re trying to achieve. In order to make sure you’re getting a good product, either make your peppermint tea yourself, or make sure you’re purchasing a well-known brand which is likely to have its own safety procedures.
Not for Infants and Children
The debate regarding mint for children is something up for great debate. Some opponents of the practice suggest it can lead to breathing problems in children, and they suggest it be avoided at all costs. Breastfeeding mothers, they say, should avoid it as well, as it can get into the milk and be passed onto the child.On the other hand, people seem to use it in small doses for many of its positive effects, including reduction of fever and as a pain reliever. The best answer here is to speak with your medical professional about it and get their opinion. Their job is to make sure your child is living the best life it can live.
Even though there are some great digestive benefits to peppermint, it can also have some very unpleasant side effects in the form of acid issues. Sufferers of acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, may want to avoid the aeromatic leaf and all its incarnations. The calming effect can actually cause the esophagus to relax a little, allowing for acid to more easily escape the stomach.
For those who already have too much acid, this can be tremendously discomforting.
Making Your Own Peppermint Tea
If you’re one of those who is worried about what may be ending up in your peppermint tea, or if you just want to get hands on, making the tea yourself isn’t difficult at all. There are two basic methods, which can be modified as you see fit.
Using Dried Mint Leaves
Dried mint leaves are definitely the easier option of the two. Simply put your tea leaves, about a teaspoon of them, into some sort of bag or press and steep it into approximately eight ounces of boiling water for two minutes or so. If you want it to be stronger, leave it in a little longer. Sweetener can be added after the steeping process is complete.
Using Fresh Mint Leaves
Fresh mint leaves take a little more preparation, but may turn out to be more rewarding for the work invested.
The first step is to clean the leaves of a bunch of mint leaves. To be more specific, that’s “a bunch” as in the technical term, not as in “I want a bunch of candy.” After they are sufficiently clean, dry them and cut them into small pieces.
In order to get the full flavor, the leaves will then need to be crushed. Multiple ways exist to do this, including simply using your hands, or going as far as getting a mortar and pestle. This crushing process helps to release all the oils, making it taste far better and have a strong, minty smell.
Once that step is done, drop the leaves directly into a pot of boiling water, cover the pot and let it go for anywhere from seven to 10 minutes. Once it’s done, strain out the leaves, add in a little sweetener and pour yourself some goodness.
When all is said and done, it’s fairly easy to see how a cup of peppermint tea before bed can be a great thing for your health and for your rest. In fact, with all the benefits seen here, I can almost see replacing any sort of tea for the peppermint variety, though I suppose other herbal teas offer their own health benefits, but that’s information best saved for another day.
For better health, consider adding peppermint to your life. Just remember, herbal remedies are great, but they are no replacement for proper medical care. If you’re not feeling well and find your remedies aren’t working, take a trip to your doctor.