Is Peppermint Tea Good for Your Health?

Old wives sometimes get it right in their tales, and sometimes get it wrong: which is it with peppermint tea? Are the purported health benefits real, or is it simply another incorrect old wives’ tale?

What Advocates of Peppermint Tea are Claiming

Proponents of the health benefits of peppermint tea claim that the tea can be used to alleviate the symptoms of a wide number of digestive ailments, from irritable bowel syndrome to herpes. Specifically, here is a longer list of benefits that they claim the tea has:

  • Eases nausea
  • Reduces diverticulitis outbreaks
  • Reduces flatulence
  • Reduces heartburn
  • Dissolves gallstones
  • Reduces chronic muscle pain
  • Clears respiratory congestion and fights asthma


Unfortunately, most of the people making the claims about the benefits of peppermint tea are the same people who are selling the tea. Therefore, the benefits listed above are best taken with a grain of salt.

Why the Claims Might Be Right

However, peppermint tea does contain within it compounds that have long-acknowledged health benefits. In particular, the main ingredient of peppermint has been shown to have some beneficial effects. At least in test tube environments, peppermint can kill certain varieties of bacteria and viruses.

Furthermore, peppermint has been proven to relax stomach muscles, which may explain why peppermint tea has been used for many centuries to treat various symptoms of indigestion, including some of the symptoms listed above. With more relaxed stomach muscles, food can pass through the stomach more rapidly, and the flow of bile improves (Source: University of Maryland Medical Center).

Why Not All the Claims are Correct

While peppermint and the tea derived from it certainly appears to have some benefit, not everyone may find the tea so soothing. People with irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, for example, may or may not benefit from peppermint. Because peppermint can relax the stomach muscles and relieve symptoms of indigestion, people with IBS may find that the pain, bloating, and gas associated with IBS can be reduced by peppermint or peppermint tea. However, other studies have reached the conclusion that people with IBS do not receive any significant benefit from peppermint.

People with acid reflux should not use peppermint at all. For the same reason that peppermint benefits some people by relaxing stomach and intestinal muscles, people with acid reflux can suffer more from peppermint. When the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach relaxes, that allows stomach acids to flow upward into the esophagus, triggering acid reflux symptoms. There’s also evidence that suggests peppermint might actually make gallstones worse (Source: University of Maryland Medical Center).

Conclusion: Peppermint Tea has a Mixed Record

The bottom line is that peppermint tea does indeed have some health benefits, but probably not as many as the people who want you to buy the tea from them claim. Without doubt, peppermint itself has proved the old wives right again and again, but it is not a universal panacea. People with IBS, for example, will probably be better off treating their symptoms with coconut or coconut oil, which has a very good track record in the natural health community for treating IBS. People with acid reflux should definitely avoid peppermint in any form, including tea. On the other hand, for mild stomach upset, menstrual cramps, and mild constipation, peppermint tea can definitely help to alleviate pains.

Photo by Zach Bulick