Ah, fresh, cooling peppermint for upset stomach – it’s my first choice every time. Whether the problem is simple indigestion, nausea, gas, or even more troublesome issues, peppermint is a true friend to the digestive system.
Perhaps the most prominent member of the mint family, peppermint is a hybrid of two other mints: spearmint (Mentha spicata) and watermint (M. aquatica). It’s such a common flavoring, we may forget that it’s actually a lovely herb with a host of medicinal properties.
When it comes to the uses of peppermint for upset stomach, its most potent compound is menthol, a strong antispasmodic that helps to calm spasms in the stomach and intestines.
This antispasmodic activity makes peppermint useful for vomiting, gas pains, colic, intestinal cramping, and even minor symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In addition to being anti-spasmodic, menthol reduces built-up gas, stimulates the production of bile, and relieves pain.
How to Use Peppermint for Upset Stomach
The digestive system is prone to a great number of issues: heartburn, indigestion, nausea, cramping, gas. The list goes on and on. Peppermint can help soothe and calm nearly every complaint the digestive system throws at it.
There are a few ways to use peppermint for upset stomach, and some are more effective at easing certain problems. Let’s look at peppermint tea first…
Peppermint tea is a traditional choice for both medicinal uses and pure enjoyment. Its fresh, almost spicy flavor is invigorating with a fragrance as enjoyable to inhale as it is to drink.
A peppermint infusion (herbal tea) works best for soothing these digestive issues:
To brew a peppermint tea, boil 8 ounces of water, then pour it over 1-2 teaspoons fresh or dried peppermint leaves. Cover the tea and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Sweeten to taste with honey. For best results, drink 4-8 ounces of the hot tea up to three times daily.
As with any highly fragrant herb, it’s important to keep the tea covered while steeping. Otherwise, the carminative properties and essential oils will just dissipate into the air. You want to drink them, not scent the air with them!
Especially when dealing with vomiting, sip the tea slowly. Don’t overwhelm the stomach with too much at one time – or it may just come back up!
Drinking excessive amounts of peppermint tea during pregnancy may cause miscarriage.
For some people, peppermint tea actually worsens heartburn, though most people find the opposite to be true. If you experience worsening heartburn, stop drinking the peppermint tea.
In his book Green Pharmacy, Dr. James Duke suggests a special tea blend for easing heartburn. Try combining 1/2 teaspoon each peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, and bee balm along with a pinch each of basil, sage, and oregano. Pour 8 ounces boiling water over the herbs, cover, and steep for 10-15 minutes.
Enjoying this tea after a heavy dinner that usually causes heartburn may even stop the problem before it starts.
Peppermint Tincture for Indigestion
Peppermint tincture, made by soaking the herb in alcohol to draw out its beneficial compounds, has proven to be more effective in relieving indigestion than the herbal tea. The reason for this is that peppermint’s medicinal compounds are only partially soluble in water – but alcohol can draw them all out.
Take 20-60 drops (0.5-1 ml) of peppermint tincture in a small glass of water up to three times a day for the relief of indigestion.
Alternatively, try making a peppermint julep for a cool and soothing treat on a hot day. It will make you feel like a rich, southern aristocrat too!
Just crush 4-5 sprigs of peppermint and put in a glass with two teaspoons sugar and 2 1/2 ounces bourbon. Fill the rest of the glass with crushed ice. Stir well and enjoy.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Inhaling peppermint essential oil can be very helpful for allaying feelings of nausea and may even keep vomiting at bay. I often grab some to breathe while brewing peppermint tea.
Breathe directly from the bottle every 5-10 minutes as needed or place 5-7 drops in an essential oil diffuser. If you’re on the go, put a couple drops on a tissue to keep in your pocket and inhale when the nausea rises up again.
Inhaling peppermint essential oil may aggravate asthmatic symptoms.
Help for Gallstones
Research has discovered that the menthol in peppermint helps to dissolve gallstones when it’s combined with ursodeoxycholic acid. This combination is sold as a formula called rowachol.
A tea made from peppermint and spearmint leaves may also help relieve the pain of a gallstone attack. Dr. Duke suggests sipping the tea on your way to obtain medical care for the attack. It’s certainly worth a try to bring some relief while you wait.
Peppermint Oil Capsules for IBS
A number of studies have been done to evaluate the effects of enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules for IBS symptoms. These studies have discovered peppermint oil is significantly more effective than a placebo at improving abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and other symptoms of IBS.
The reason enteric-coated capsules are used is because the coating makes them move further through the digestive tract before being absorbed. This allows the peppermint oil to reach the lower bowel where many IBS symptoms occur.
To ease the symptoms of IBS, try taking 1-2 enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules (with 0.2 ml oil per capsule) 2-3 times daily between meals.
Peppermint oil should not be confused with peppermint essential oil, which should not be taken internally.
Using peppermint for upset stomach of all sorts can be beneficial for many people. Peppermint is one of the best-tasting medicinal herbs we have, which makes using it when the digestive system is in an uproar easy and pleasant. Even if you’re feeling nauseous or have been vomiting, drinking a cup of peppermint tea will be delicious.
How do you use peppermint?
Did you discover something new? Don't stop here....
Sign up for my newsletter and come along with me on this journey. Once or twice a week, I'll send out an update with highlights, insights, and practical ideas for pursuing a holistic lifestyle.
To welcome you to my community, I have a few goodies I want to send you, including my new e-book, Ten Natural Health Habits You Can Start Today. In it, you'll find ten easy all-natural health habits that are doable today. No more waiting around or trying to find the perfect plan. Just get started today!
Stengler, Mark, ND. The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Medical Doctors Don’t Know. Prentice Hall Press, 2010.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
Articles on this website may contain affiliate links. Using these links costs you nothing but generates a small commission for the blog author.