The holidays are over, but peppermint is still in season

January 17, 2013

Roger E. Adams

It's January, and you've probably packed away all the holiday decorations, thrown out unwanted leftovers, and are beginning another year with weight loss at the top of your resolution list.

Looking around, you discover you forgot about the extra peppermint candy canes. Now even though the sugary sticks shouldn't be a part of your resolution diet, the candy's oil should.The scent and flavor of peppermint leaves and oil can be used to aid digestion, curb hunger cravings, and reduce fatigue. So even though you should probably throw out the canes, don't forget about the herb - it's good for you!

Theories about the hunger-reducing effect of peppermint have been around for years based on the concept that saturating the sensory system with the strong smell of peppermint may lead the sniffer to consume fewer calories. In 2008, researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University reported that our brains may interpret strong smells, such as peppermint, as actually tasting them, which may give a false feeling of fullness. Think "¦ peppermint gum.

The same researchers reported on peppermint's curious ability to reduce perceived physical workload, temporal workload, effort and frustration in athletes. Their study participants rated their level of vigor higher and their level of fatigue lower while sniffing peppermint. This might cue some serious athletes and/or cerebrals out there to try peppermint and maybe improve physical and mental performance. It's worth a shot.

Finally, peppermint tea has been known to aid digestion and reduce gastrointestinal distress. So if you find yourself having fallen off the wagon with your resolution diet, drink some peppermint tea and you might be able to get back on it sooner.

The refreshing herb has a lot to offer. Ditch the peppermint candy for some gum to help curb hunger, sniff some peppermint oil before a big game, and drink some peppermint tea to move things along.

Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., CISSN, is a weight loss and fitness expert and doctor of nutrition. He owns eatrightfitness ®, an evidence-based counseling practice focused on weight loss, disease prevention, and sports nutrition.

Originally published Jan 17, 2013 10:00:24 AM.