…And ‘tis the season for holiday cheer! The stockings are hung, the ornaments placed and the lights cast a sparkling glow that seems to indicate “another year over and a new one just begun.”  In homes everywhere, the kitchen is filled with the aroma of holiday delights. Cookies and fudge and decorated treats.  Among the various holiday treats and traditions, a solitary botanical proudly stands out as if to say, “This is my season to shine!” From candy canes and patties, to fudge and hot chocolate, peppermint will be found enhancing most any holiday delight.  Its crisp and cool flavor symbolically reflects the frosty weather, while also adding a fresh flair that combats the richness of most holiday treats.  This classic botanical is not only responsible for the flavor of the season, but unbeknownst to many, it also possesses a vast array of health benefits that may lighten some traditional health maladies that often accompany the holiday cheer.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is among the most ancient and well-established botanicals used to support health and wellness. The essential oils extracted from the leaves, stem and flowers contain many useful compounds, including the popular compound, menthol. Peppermint is abundant throughout North America and even the most amateur gardener can successfully establish this herb due to its extreme hardiness.

One of the most prevalent uses of peppermint is to support the digestive system. Clinical studies have shown peppermint to be extraordinarily helpful in supporting natural inflammatory processes and normal pain responses related to digestive health. Increasingly poor diets, poor food quality and hasty lifestyles leading to fast food consumption has contributed to a substantial amount of doctor visits for digestive issues. Incidentally, many of these issues coincide with pain and disruptions of normal inflammatory processes. A vicious cycle ensues, leading to uncomfortable symptoms that often become chronic. Peppermint may be a simple, yet helpful, antidote for the uncomfortable consequences of a struggling digestive system.

The peace and solitude that this season tries to establish is so often overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of shopping and parties. As lines get longer, traffic gets heavier, and schedules get fuller, it is no wonder that more people don’t feel as though their heads are spinning on a merry-go-round. Perhaps, it is the candy cane, peppermint mocha, or the healthier peppermint tea you grabbed as you headed to the next store, which secretly came to your rescue. Peppermint has been clinically studied for its ability to support a strong mental constitution during tense and stressful times. As the lights and noise threaten to make a joyful season unpleasant and painful, rubbing peppermint oil across the forehead or temples can provide a cooling and soothing sensation that supports muscle relaxation and mental wellness. It also supports the body’s natural pain response. Therefore, peppermint may serve to extend your busy shopping schedule and make the trip a bit more tolerable.

A lesser known, but equally advantageous benefit of peppermint is its ability to support joint health. When applied topically, the menthol in peppermint produces a cooling sensation that can provide temporary relief to tired and sore joints. This same cooling sensation can also help reestablish a normal pain response in the body. Not only does menthol provide immediate aid at the point it is applied, but after being absorbed into the skin, it can also travel to the central nervous system and support processes deep within the nervous system. As various cells and hormones work to interpret the pain sensation, peppermint helps the body translate the pain “message” and act upon it appropriately. Sore joints and deteriorating joint health plagues “kids from two to ninety two” and can keep these individuals from enjoying the shopping, entertainment and various events of this holiday season. Thus, peppermint oil can become a useful aide for these individuals. It may also be useful for supporting sore muscles and joints that are the inevitable outcome of hours spent browsing through stores, caroling, or strolling through a light show.

This time of the year brings anticipated treats and events that culminate into a season of cheer. Thankfully, this same season gives special attention to a botanical that generously bestows gifts that allow individuals to better enjoy the delights of this season. So embrace the gifts peppermint has to offer!



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