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My granddad was a big fan of peppermint. He said it stopped his indigestion but we thought it was to cover up his visits to the pub! Turns out he was right as peppermint has a long history of easing tummy issues dating right back to Ancient Egypt. Dried leaves have been found in pyramids, and the Greeks and Romans valued peppermint as a stomach soother.
Scientific studies suggest that peppermint may help with symptoms of indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Centre conducted research which found peppermint may calm stomach muscles and improve bile function. A 2008 study published in the British Medical Journal also concluded that peppermint may be an effective antispasmodic for treating IBS.
Peppermint oil may also relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety and could even help with weight loss. Dr Hirsch, a neurologist at the Smell and Taste Foundation in Chicago, conducted an experiment with 3193 overweight volunteers. Each was given an inhaler containing scents and was asked to inhale three times into each nostril when they felt hungry. During the six month study they didn’t diet and ate two to four regular meals per day. On average they lost nearly five pounds per month – some people lost much more. Dr Hirsch reported, “Some people lost so much weight we had to drop them from the programme.” The most effective scent used in the inhaler was peppermint oil.
Clinical trials have also demonstrated that topical application of peppermint oil may help relieve symptoms of a tension headache, ease congestion in colds and flu, and can even kill some types of viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
When it comes to brain function, several studies suggest smelling peppermint may improve alertness, focus, concentration, and enhance the accuracy of memory. Just like rosemary, this wee plant may help you to remember what you’ve read in Mad Diet!