Peppermint is one of the most useful (and delicious) plants out there, and as a member of the mint family it’s just as easy to plant and harvest at home.

If you’ve put any thought into how much joy you might get out of reaching into your low-maintenance herb garden to garnish your best dishes with peppermint, rethink that thought. Sure, you can do that. But there’s plenty more peppermint can do for you and your health—it’s more than just a refreshing spice.

Peppermint oil comes from the leaves of the peppermint plant, and that’s where its famous flavoring comes from. However, peppermint oil is also the source of many natural remedies. Peppermint oil can be used to treat several ailments both inside and outside of the body, from stomach pains to sore muscles.

Here’s Livestrong with a quick overview of just a few of the ways peppermint oil serves as an excellent natural remedy:

Peppermint Oil Benefits

Soothes the Stomach

Researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine say peppermint oil can be effective for treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint oil is taken as a tea or in small doses in capsules or other liquids soothes bloating, gas, cramping and gastrointestinal discomfort. When combined with certain oils, such as caraway, peppermint can relieve indigestion. Peppermint improves the flow of bile that helps the body to digest fats more effectively, decreasing the pain from indigestion.

Decongestant and Cough Aid

The main ingredient in peppermint is menthol, which helps with sinus congestion, University of Maryland doctors say. When taken in small, liquid doses, menthol works as an expectorant, and can break up mucus and reduce the severity of coughs that produce phlegm. Peppermint also helps sooth sore throats and can ease the pain of a dry cough.

Relaxes Muscles

Peppermint oil is a muscle relaxer. When ingested, the oil relaxes the intestines to provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome and can help relax other muscles as well. Used with an oil carrier, peppermint can be rubbed over sore muscles to provide relief. Applied to the temples, peppermint oil can relieve muscle tension that causes headaches. Rub topical peppermint oil on the neck to relieve tension headaches and elsewhere on the body to decrease muscle spasms.

To read more, check out the other health benefits listed in the original article.

Have you ever used peppermint oil yourself, as a natural remedy for something you were dealing with on your own? There are a few different ways to gain the benefits of peppermint oil (such as topically or in a pill capsule, just to name a couple), so we’d love to hear about your own preferred method. How successful was peppermint oil in your own experience? Share your thoughts in the comments’ section!