My pregnant wife has had more than one craving in the last eight months. One of them happens to be ice cream. And when the supermarket is always running a two-for-one special, we’re assured to have a freezer full of the lovely diet-killing dessert.
One of her favorites is a peppermint flavored ice cream. And while this would never be a recommendation for anyone trying to lose weight, peppermint on its own has been shown to have health benefits.
The oil extracted from peppermint contains a number of compounds, including menthol. Studies have shown that peppermint oil can be effective relief for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. And it may effect up to one in five people.
One explanation for peppermint’s effectiveness is that the oil and menthol block calcium channels, which relaxes the smooth muscles in the walls of the intestines.
One researcher even suggests that peppermint oil should be used as a defense against IBS before over-the counter drugs. Peppermint and menthol have a slew of other health benefits, including itch relief and subduing many disease-producing bacteria, fungi and viruses.