Peppermint tea is often recommended for people who have stomach problems, and for good reason. Its essential oil, menthol, actually relaxes the stomach muscles, in turn making digestion and gas production—two common causes of ailments—much smoother operations. Based on this, ingesting peppermint should lead to less bloating and gas pain overall. That’s why its effects on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are of such interest to the medical community.
Peppermint oil’s supposedly great for skin, relieving itchiness, rashes, inflammation, and so forth. Also, the rosmarinic acid it contains is said to help open up airways in asthmatics and fight against bacteria and viruses, due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial characteristics.
Peppermint may also help with achy, sore muscles because its menthol component dulls pained nerves and activates cold-temperature receptors. However, peppermint oil is far too caustic for the skin to be applied directly—side effects include skin rashes, allergic reactions, muscle spasms, and painful burning—so the topical applications you find at health-food stores are diluted with ethanol or other, similar ingredients. If you want to attempt to create an all-natural peppermint lotion or body scrub at home, always be sure to do your homework before you get started.
In any case, it’s always best to consult a doctor before using herbs medicinally. But if you want to try drinking peppermint tea with your meal, I can vouch for its usefulness in settling stomachs, so if your digestive system’s feeling off, try some tea and see how you feel afterward. But, as with any other natural remedy, don’t expect instant, complete improvement; peppermint is an herb, not a miracle worker.