As you pop a peppermint into your mouth, you might find yourself wondering if this refreshing candy is doing more than just freshening your breath. Is peppermint a stimulant? Well, hold onto your hats because we are about to dive headfirst into the world of botanical psychoactive substances, so buckle up and get ready for an informative yet hilarious ride!
WHAT ARE STIMULANTS?
Before we delve deeper into the question at hand, let’s first define what stimulants actually are. In layman’s terms, a stimulant is any substance that speeds up bodily processes by magnifying neurotransmitters such as dopamine and adrenaline in our brain.
These mood-altering agents heighten energy levels to improve alertness, attention span or/and physical ability which makes them popular among athletes and executives alike. Examples include caffeine from coffee beans and nicotine from cigarettes.
So does peppermint fit this bill?
PEPPERMINT: THE FOREST FRESHENER
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) offers much more than pleasant fragrance to forest creatures who nibble on its leaves. It’s an aromatic herb with multiple health benefits backed by science. From aiding digestion to regulating blood pressure levels (Thanks Mother Nature!), this minty herb comes in handy when there is more love handles than anticipated or constipation strikes! But how does it fare as far as stimulation goes?
LET’S TALK ABOUT MENTHOL
Peppermint gets its name from menthol – one of its active components known for its cooling sensation on mucous membranes present in our mouths (did anyone say Winterfresh?) Menthol contains properties similar to those found in local anaesthetics — only milder— effectively numbing sleight pains like sore throat or dentist visits. But before we get carried away with its anaesthetic properties, let’s address the big question – Is menthol a stimulant?
THE CHICKEN OR EGG OF MENTHOL AND STIMULATION
The “Is peppermint a stimulant?” query stems from the unclear relationship between menthol and stimulation. Some research indicates that menthol triggers the production of adrenaline, which causes an increase in heart rate and blood flow, followed by heightened mental alertness. In contrast, other studies have concluded that peppermint can be sedative (relax) for some people who shall not be named, leading to mild drowsiness.
Oh! To make things spicy like red pepper flakes on pizza , here is another variable – different individuals react differently to mint psychoactive components.
This variance could explain why there hasn’t been one straight answer when it comes down to whether or not peppermint qualifies as a stimulant. Confused much? So are we!
Are you still interested in finding out if you should switch your pre-workout coffee for some soothing tea with a dash of mint? Keep reading!
BYE COFFEE HELLO PEPPERMINT TEA?
Now we move onto the good part – how does this herb fare when put under scientific scrutiny? Looking at science-backed nuggets would help clear up any confusion in our minds. Let’s dive into the lab coats zone!
Peppermint Tea might surprise most caffeine fiends who wonder what life without Joe tastes like; according to several peer-reviewed publications, drinking pure Peppermint tea raises resting energy expenditure (REE) -the amount of calories burned while sitting- compared to control groups given water or placebo teas. Okay raise your hand if you would ever decline extra calorie burn while sitting on your bum ?
However,No study has proved beyond doubt that Peppermint tea acts as central nervous system stimulant and could be an alternative for coffee. I guess just shaking the tree instead of pounding it is not really practical solution, but hang on tight, there’s still some good news ahead!
WAKE UP OR…WIND DOWN!
Some might experience peppermint as a wake-up call while others find its soothing properties far more effective than chamomile tea at lulling them to sleep after a long day. The reason behind this difference? You guessed right – menthol concentration.
Research indicates that Menthol levels in plants vary widely depending on factors such as time of harvest, region of origin and plant care (yes these green beings do need maintenance works!). Low doses ranging between 0.02 – 2 mg/ml were found to energize participants and increased alertness compared to higher doses which induced sedation.So next time you reach for peppermint oil, ask how twitchy or relaxed are you hoping it will make you feel?
On the flip side , high menthol amounts lead test subjects rating themselves lower in productivity citing sluggishness as the main cause. Whelp! Here we have one instance where moderation does win out over excess.
PUTTING THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN
After all said and done, though opinions differ regarding whether or not Peppermint may qualify as stimulation owing to low ephedrine content like Ephedra that used traditional chinese medicine . Most evidence seems to point towards Peppermint ranking somewhere within those grey areas attributed with stimulating-like qualities.
Here is what we know so far:
1.Peppermint can raise calorie burn when taken regularly meaning more black forest cake !
2.Peppermint has active components known for their numbing effects similar anaesthetics albeit milder
3.Menthol concentration determines whether Peppermint becomes iconic cartoon alarm clock or gentle waves.
4.Preliminary studies reveal Peppermint can act as an alertness booster at low levels when consumed,
HAS ANYONE SEEN MY COFFEE?
If you skimmed through the article to reach this answer ,here it goes — NO. Peppermint is not a stimulant, but rather significantly less caffeine content than coffee (Sorry Folgers fans). However,Peppermint herb does retain some traits attributed with stimulation such as arousal and increased focus.
In other words -if getting amped-up like Snoop Dogg on a Saturday night is what you’re looking for,maybe choose another substance that guarantees such effects, preferably legal.
But if you want something gentler than your current uptempo wake up beverage regime or just seeking alternatives then sip away! It could be worth experimenting calling the lab rat in all of us until we find our sweet spot. But let’s just hope fear doesn’t set in once we contemplate possible #Coffeeless life.
1) Hostettmann K, Terreaux C: Stimulating plant metabolites: minor nitrogen-containing constituents of Piper species. Phytochemistry 1995;38:393-401
2) Hatch M et al., Expanding research dimensions of traditional herbal medicine by including whole plant extractions and systems biology approaches-complementary insights from hyphenated techniques? Planta Med 2018; DOI: 10.1055/s-0036-1596876.
3) Barbour LA. Plant products with CNS-effects.Medit J Islamic World Acad Sci2000;13(4):147–57
Hey there, I’m Dane Raynor, and I’m all about sharing fascinating knowledge, news, and hot topics. I’m passionate about learning and have a knack for simplifying complex ideas. Let’s explore together!
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