Spearmint is a pleasant-smelling species of mint often used in medicine for its claimed therapeutic properties.
The herb is found in health food products, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and cosmetics.
Spearmint is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and vital nutrients. Despite having a very similar aroma to peppermint, spearmint does not contain as much menthol, but is rich in limonene, dihydrocarvone and cineol.
Along with other herbs belonging to the mint family, spearmint has a square shaped stem. Its leaves are around 5 to 9 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm broad, the tips of the leaves are pointed (much like spears), hence its name “spearmint”.
Spearmint is an aromatic herb found in European cuisine since Roman times. It is native to Central Europe but it is now found throughout North America, where it was introduced by North America’s earliest immigrants in the late 1500’s. In those dangerous times it was used to prevent and treat scurvy, due to its high vitamin C content.
Mint has an interesting history in Europe. Roman legend has it that the wife of Pluto was jealous of a young nymph named Minthes and so turned her into a plant. Although Pluto was unable to transform her back, he gave her a delightful aroma that we now recognize as Mint.
The health benefits of Spearmint Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cephalic, emenagogue, insecticide, restorative and stimulant substance.
The Essential Oil of Spearmint is extracted by steam distillation of flowering tops of the spearmint plant, whose scientific name is Mentha Spicata. The main components of this oil are Alpha Pinene, Beta Pinene, Carvone, Cineole, Caryophyllene, Linalool, Limonene, Menthol and Myrcene.
Although its aroma is similar to that of peppermint, due to the presence of menthol, its menthol content is negligible as compared to that of peppermint oil. Spearmint oil has been a substitute for peppermint when it is unavailable, and possesses similar medicinal properties, due to the presence of similar compounds in its essential oil. Instances of its use in ancient Greece have even been found in historical records.
According to Mountain Rose Herbs, spearmint essential is made through steam distillation. It is, “Used throughout the culinary and pharmaceutical industries. Medicinally it is known for its effects on the digestive system, and for relieving aches and pains.” Spearmint oil blends well with basil, benzoin, eucalyptus, jasmine, lavender, lemon, orange, peppermint and rosemary.
Find out more about Spearmint Oil, and other essential oils here:
According to a study published in the Journal of Essential Oil Research, spearmint oil’s antimicrobial properties are obtained from its chemical constituents: cis-carveol and carvone. It demonstrated effectiveness against four bacterial strains (Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Pasturella multocida) and fungal pathogens (Aspergillus niger, Mucor mucedo, Fusarium solani, Botryodiplodia theobromae, and Rhizopus solani).
Spearmint oil’s antimicrobial effects were also shown in another study, published in the Journal of Microbiology Research. It highlighted spearmint oil’s effect on Bacillus subtilis, Aspergillus niger, and Candida albicans. The oil was most potent against Escherichia coli, and also exhibited benefits as an antiseptic and preservative.
Because of its potent antimicrobial nature, the use of spearmint essential oil can provide the following benefits:
- Because spearmint oil has antiseptic properties (due to the presence of menthol, myrcene, and caryophyllene), it can protect wounds and ulcers from infection and even help them heal faster.
- It can help treat sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea and syphilis.
- It can help treat internal wounds and infections in the stomach and intestines.
Apart from this, spearmint oil can also:
- Help relax nerves and muscle spasms due to its menthol content
- Let excessive gas pass naturally from your stomach and intestines
- Cure headaches and stress-related neural problems
- Address menstrual problems, such as irregular periods, obstructed menses, and early menopause as it induces the secretion of the hormone estrogen
- Stimulate nerves and brain function, as well as blood circulation
- Treat common respiratory problems, such as colds, nasal congestion, asthma, and flu
Uses of Spearmint Oil
Check out this Slideshare to get a short view of some uses of spearmint oil:
Spearmint has strong anti-bacterial properties, as do most essential oils. A 2001 study by H. Imai and colleagues in “Microbios” found that spearmint essential oil blocked the growth of bacteria, even antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including H. pylori, Salmonella, E.coli and MRSA. Add 20 to 40 drops spearmint oil to 3.5 oz. water in a spray bottle to use as a cleaning solution.
Adding a couple of drops to a bowl of hot water and then inhaling the fumes can act as a natural decongestant. It can help to clear your airways and thin mucus.
Its aroma can revitalize you when you are feeling tired, stressed, or nervous. It has also been said to promote feelings of courage and confidence, so if you are feeling down, conflicted, or nervous, perhaps inhaling a little spearmint will uplift your mood. Spearmint can also promote relief of headaches and neck tension that may come as a result of fatigue and stress.
Trying to keep away those pesky insects? Check out this research that shows that spearmint is actually an effective wasp repellant. Cool, huh? Try diluting it and making your own bug spray. Or even diffusing it on an outdoor patio. Add in a drop of 2 of lemongrass for more repellant power.
Spearmint oil can be used to treat internal and external infections, including scabies, dermatitis, syphilis, and other transmittable conditions.
Oil of spearmint is sometimes added to baked goods, frozen dairy, meats, beverages, and chewing gum.
Improve Oral Health:
Spearmint EO’s properties are very similar to that of peppermint EO: it is a strong antiseptic, eliminating germs and helping any wounds heal more quickly. It is also soothing to soft tissues like gum tissue.
Check out this video to see how spearmint oil and other essential oils can help your mouth!
Spearmint oil is said to, like peppermint oil, help curve food cravings which can in turn help you to lose weight.
- Spearmint oil can be applied topically in very low dilution only. It can also be used as a compress, in the bath, through direct inhalation, or used with a diffuser.
- Blend several drops spearmint essential oil with a massage oilor cream. Massage into skin to relieve itching and to encourage relaxation.
- Add two drops spearmint oil to bath water to relieve fatigue and to address respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis.
- For a stimulating and refreshing facial steam, use several drops in vapor therapy to help cleanse and refine pores.
- Diffuse spearmint oil to help mitigate headaches and migraines and to help confront and move stagnant emotional blocks.
- Ancient Greeks scented their bath water with spearmint oil, which had a reputation for curing sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
- During the Middle Ages, spearmint leaves were scattered on the floors of public spaces to ward off rodents and to encourage general good health. The herb was also used to heal sore gums and to whiten teeth.
- The spearmint plant is native to Europe, but is now also cultivated across the United States and Asia.
- The state of Washington is currently one of the world’s largest producers of spearmint oil, whose most common use is as a flavor additive to toothpaste, chewing gums and candy.