Peppermint

In the midst of all the indulgence and decadence this time of year, it's comforting to know there are some very real health benefits to some of the most common flavors of the season. Between candy canes and Christmas bark, peppermint is giving cinnamon a run for its money as standout spice of the holiday season. And we're thankful for that, considering the new research and amazing benefits including the following:

Folk wisdom suggests peppermint might aid all sorts of gut problems, ranging from nausea to menstrual cramps, but the most scientific evidence exists for its powerful response to irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. Of those who were given a placebo pill, only 38 percent reported any alleviation, Harvard Women's Health Watch reported.

A 2011 Australian study that set about to show how it "activates an 'anti-pain' channel in the colon, soothing inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract," according to a statement.
Here's a neat trick: Just smelling a candy cane might convince you not to eat one. In a 2011 study, people were asked to smell peppermint oil every two hours. They reported not feeling as hungry as people who didn't use it throughout the week, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Headaches are most often brought on by stress, anxiety and alcohol consumption (during the holidays? Never!), may be quelled by a little topical peppermint oil. The scent of peppermint may also give us a mental perk. 

One of the two biggest active ingredients in peppermint is menthol, the compound that gives so many of those over-the-counter cold and cough remedies their minty smell, even if little physically changed after inhaling peppermint products. Sometimes when you're really under the weather, that might be good enough! As noted in the world’s healthiest foods.