Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a common ingredient in herbal tea. Peppermint tea, like regular black and green tea, is a decoction of leaves in hot water. This brewing process passes many of the phytochemicals in the leaves to the water, and these are then consumed. Many of these phytochemicals are bioavailable, and have distinct health effects in the consumer. The phenolic constituents of the leaves include rosmarinic acid and several flavonoids, primarily eriocitrin, luteolin and hesperidin. These compounds may be bioactive antioxidants. Peppermint also contains volatile compounds in the essential oil that include menthol and menthone as the main components. In animal and human studies, peppermint shows particular antimicrobial and antiviral activities, a significant antioxidant and antitumor effect, as well as some anti-allergenic effects. Peppermint has also been shown to cause relaxation of the gastrointestinal tract, supporting its role as a gut calming agent in traditional medicine.
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