Peppermint Good for Digestion

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HAMILTON, Ontario—The peppermint found in many Christmas candies acts as defense against irritable bowel syndrome, according to a study lead by McMaster University researcher Alex Ford.

For the study the researchers observed the action of essential oils on bacteria responsible for Listeria, Staph, E. coli, and Salmonella infections. The study revealed the antimicrobial activity of the two mint family Mentha villosa and Faassen's catnip, along with another non-mint herb, bluebeard. Other essential oils found in horseradish, garlic, hyssop, basil, marjoram, oregano, winter savory and three types of thyme also showed similar effects.

"Most of the (effective) species are really from the family Lamiaceae, or mint family," said Pavel Kloucek, a scientist at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, who added that the plant essential oils were found to be lipophilic.

"Luckily, in the cell membrane of bacteria, there is plenty of fat, which serves as a seal," he said. "Essential oils are attracted to this fat and, as their molecules squeeze in between the fat molecules, they cause leakage of the membrane."

Various illnesses could be kept at bay if food could be treated with essential oils. While mint is favorable in candy, it might not get along well with other foods. It is important to match the oils with the right food, said Kloucek and his team.

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