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Is It Safe To Consume Peppermint Tea During Pregnancy?

Herbs and natural remedies are widely used around the world, including the period of pregnancy. The most common forms of herbal preparations are teas or infusions which are known to provide a lot of health benefits to the foetus and pregnant women.

Peppermint tea is one of the most widely consumed single-ingredient herbal tea during pregnancy, especially during the first and second trimesters. But is it safe? Let's explore the health benefits and side effects (if any) of peppermint tea.

Nutrients In Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is brewed from the leaves of the peppermint plant (Mentha piperita) and its essential oil is also widely used in traditional medicines. The phenolic compounds in the peppermint leaves include rosmarinic acid and flavonoids such as luteolin, eriocitrin and hesperidin. [1]

Peppermint leaves possess strong antioxidant activity along with a potent antimicrobial, antiviral, antitumour, antiallergenic, anaesthetic, immunomodulating and analgesic effects. It also has a relaxing effect on gastrointestinal tissues and central and peripheral nervous system.

Benefits Of Peppermint Tea During Pregnancy

1. Eases morning sickness

Nausea and vomiting are the most common morning sickness symptoms that occur in early pregnancy. They affect around 80 per cent women and may cause a significant impact on their lives. The cause of morning sickness during pregnancy is not yet well-defined. However, conditions such as multiple pregnancies, high levels of gonadotropin hormone and high HCG level are considered the relevant cause.

A study says that the aroma of peppermint is highly effective in improving nausea and vomiting. Also, the high levels of antioxidants in the tea help with providing numerous benefits to the growing baby and mother. [2] The antagonistic effects of peppermint oil also help ease nausea and vomiting and are recognised as safe by the FDA. [3]

2. May treat pruritis or itchy skin

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can sometimes severely affect the skin and cause pruritis. It occurs in around 1-8 per cent of pregnant women and is characterised by skin itching, mainly on the hands, abdomen and chest region. The condition is common during the late second and early third trimester and may get severe during the nighttime.

A study says that peppermint contains a major compound called methanol which has a soothing, relaxing and cooling effect on the skin. It may help decrease itching and reduce redness of the skin. However, data related to the effect of methanol on itching is very less. [4]

3. Treats heartburn

Pregnancy comes with immense physiological alternations and cause several gastrointestinal symptoms, including heartburn. This is prevalent in around 17-45 per cent women. Also, heartburn seems to increase with gestational age i.e from 22 per cent in the first trimester to 39 per cent in the second and 60-72 per cent in the third trimester. [5]

Peppermint tea has been used to treat many pregnancy-related heartburn cases and the following symptoms such as bloating and stomach aches. It is also used as a relaxing agent to calm the stomach tissues and gastric problems.

4. May treat headache

Headache during pregnancy can be due to both primary (migraine, anxiety) and secondary (stroke and preeclampsia) causes and can be life-threatening. A study says that nasal application of peppermint oil is effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of headache. [6]

Though the effect of peppermint tea in treating headache during pregnancy is not established in many studies, some researchers believe that it may help ease the symptom due to the presence of a small amount of methanol in the tea.

Side Effects Of Peppermint Tea

  • May increase heartburn: Though peppermint tea is known to alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn and stomach ache during pregnancy, it may intensify the condition in some. Therefore, it is not recommended as the only method to soothe stomach complaints in pregnancy. [7]
  • May cause miscarriage: Peppermint tea has emmenagogue properties, but only when it is taken in a high dose. Meaning, it may increase the blood flow to the pelvic region and the uterus, thus triggering menstruation and causing miscarriage/abortion. [8]
  • May cause adverse effects: The tea made from peppermint leaves can sometimes cause adverse effects in pregnant women with pre-existing conditions such as GERD, hiatal hernia or kidney stones.
  • Can interact with medications: In some cases, peppermint tea can interfere with the absorption of certain prescribed medications such as antacids.
  • May cause preterm labour: Herbal teas, including peppermint tea when consumed in a large amount can possibly cause uterine contractions and increase the risk of preterm labour.

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To Conclude

Herbal remedies like peppermint tea are more effective than conventional medicines and have fewer side effects. [9] However, it is a dose-dependent herb and may cause severe side effects in some when taken in a large amount, not only during pregnancy but anytime. Therefore, it is better to consult a medical expert before its usage and to enjoy its numerous health benefits..