ginger and peppermint

The tag on my tea bag said “be well” today. Good advice, especially as I haven’t been well the last couple of days.

You know when you eat something and it just doesn’t agree with you?

What’s worse is when the propagator of your misery is unknown. It could have been the tamarind, or the sorghum flour, or the yeast. Regardless of the culprit though, the stomach pain, headaches and general feeling of malaise that ensue are inevitably unpleasant.

So drink some tea.

The tea might not explicitly help make anything feel better, but it certainly can’t hurt. Sometimes you can’t do anything to make your body heal faster than it is willing to. So just relax and give it as much support as possible. Get those extra 40 winks, take some extra probiotics or kombucha, cuddle with someone special, or read a book in a cozy place and drink tea.

Then again, the tea might explicitly help.

Some herbs and spices, like ginger and peppermint, work wonders on the stomach. Ginger is one of my favorite spices…crystallized ginger is a delicious snack (especially if it’s covered in chocolate, but what isn’t better with chocolate?). It has several anti-inflammatory properties, aids in digestion, and can ease stomach pain. Both eating ginger and brewing ginger tea or a blended tea with ginger can be helpful.

Peppermint is also lovely. It’s commonly used to soothe or treat symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel, and bloating, and research has shown that it does have a real impact on digestion. In 2007, Italian investigators reported that 75% of the patients in their study who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks had a major reduction in irritable bowel symptoms, compared with just 38% of those who took a placebo. Another study in 2010, conducted in Iran, found similar results. Peppermint oil has also been used in Germany to treat irritable bowel (sources at the bottom of this post if you’re interested).

Regardless of the results of clinical trials, both taste lovely and can be found in many forms. One of my favorite brands of tea, Traditional Medicines, sells several teas that contain both ginger and peppermint, as well as several other healing herbs.

So why not indulge?

And while you’re at it, go for some dark chocolate. No, not in the sugar-laden brownie form if you’re feeling under the weather. Some solid, 70% or higher, soy lecithin-free dark chocolate. Theo brand is delicious and soy-free.

And then hunker down in your bunker with all of your tasty weapons and lay low for a bit. And gradually, the pain will ease, your focus will return, your mind will clear, and you will be ready to face the day once more.

It’s currently sleeting and about 34 degrees. Be well.

You probably don’t need the citation of the peppermint studies, but that would be the college student coming out. Just be glad that it’s not an annotated bibliography!

Cappello, G; Spezzaferro, M; Grossi, L; Manzoli, L; Marzio, L (2007). “Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial”. Digestive and Liver Disease 39 (6): 530–6.

Merat, Shahin; Khalili, Shadi; Mostajabi, Pardise; Ghorbani, Anahita; Ansari, Reza; Malekzadeh, Reza (2010). “The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome”. Digestive diseases and sciences 55 (5): 1385–90.

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