Spearmint, scientifically known as Mentha spicata, is a type of herb that falls under the mint family. The plant got its name from the leaves’ tips, which are shaped like spears. Spearmint is one of the most popular mints. It is one of the 18 species of mints plants that are native to the Mediterranean region. It is also found in Europe, Asia, Western and Northern Africa, as well as South and North America. The plant is a source of a very beneficial and potent essential oil, derived from the leaves of the herb.1
Overview of Spearmint
Spearmint is also referred to as green spearmint, Our Lady’s Mint, Green Lamb, fish mint, pea, lamb, spire, and garden mint. Its essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowers and is commonly used for its sweet, minty taste and aroma. For many years, spearmint has been a popular flavor in gum, candy, and dental products for its breath-freshening and favorable tasting properties.2
Spearmint essential oil not only promotes fresh breath, but is also widely used in baking, cooking, and flavorings to create drinks, salad dressings, desserts, and meat marinades. In terms of aromatherapy, it has cleansing and energizing characteristics that promote a sense of focus while at the same time enhancing or uplifting the mood. The oil also promotes digestion, and helps treat or alleviate the occasional stomach upset. Spearmint is quite different from peppermint due to having a lower content of menthol. It is often used as a milder option for children and people with sensitive skin.
History of Use
The spearmint essential oil has historically been used all over the world in different cultures and locations. In fact, its use has been documented in Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and it was also used by the Greeks. It has also been mentioned in the Bible referring to its benefits. In the late 1500s, Englishmen were known to bring spearmint during their settlement in America, similar to the Romans who were known for bringing mints into Great Britain.3
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When it was introduced to Britain the spearmint herb, with its sweet and herbaceous fragrance, found many culinary uses and later became known for its medicinal properties. It was a popular treatment for vomiting, nausea, and respiratory issues, including common colds. The oil was used for its digestive benefits and was often served with or after meals to prevent bloating, indigestion, and nausea.
Ayurvedic medicine would use the herb for similar purposes, as well as soothing headaches and treating various skin problems. From its Mediterranean roots, the herb was widely used by the Greeks as an aphrodisiac. They also used it to treat sexually transmitted diseases, scent bath water, cure hiccups, and clear the voice.
Other cultures from around the world used it to heal mouth sores, whiten teeth, decorate dining tables, suppress appetite, and as a hair accessory, which involved wearing the herb as a wreath around the head.
Composition of Spearmint Essential Oil
The main active constituents of the common form of spearmint essential oil are:
Carvone is the main chemical component of the spearmint essential oil. It has a monoterpene backbon, and forms an important part of the ketone functional group. Carvone ideally contains energizing properties, which play a huge role in the mood uplifting abilities of the oil. Based on the recent study, the form of Carvone found in the spearmint essential oil demonstrated substantial calming effects against a heightened state of excitement. This finding contributes to the prevalent belief that spearmint might support the healthy function of the nervous system.
Limonene is a neutral hydrocarbon that’s usually categorized as a cyclic terpene. The term “limonene” has been derived from the word ‘lemon’, since it’s most commonly found in the rind of citrus fruits. Limonene is a highly beneficial immunostimulant and may contribute to the effects of weight loss and appetite control. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antifungal, and cytotoxic properties.
Eucalyptol (1,8-Cineole) is a monoterpene and a cyclic ether, and has a wide range of therapeutic benefits including, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, airborne anti-microbial, mucolytic, anti-viral, anti-spasmodic, and hypotensive purposes. It’s also effective in increasing cerebral blood flow. In medicine, 1,8-Cineole is widely used as an ingredient in many mouthwashes and cough suppressants. It’s also effective in treating disorders related to the digestive system, musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, immune system, and the skin.
Common Uses of Spearmint Essential Oil
Speeds Up the Healing of Wounds
The antiseptic properties of spearmint essential oil make it effective at inhibiting the growth of microbes and reduces the chances of infections occurring on the skin. It also works well for ulcers, preventing them from becoming septic and heal much faster.
The antiseptic properties of the oil are mainly due to the presence of terpenes such as limonene and carvone. The good thing about it is that this is a completely natural antiseptic, which should not produce any side effects when used.
Wounds can be really dangerous because when they are not treated soon enough, they can easily develop into serious infections, which typically require a longer healing time if they aren’t treated immediately. The oil not only protects the wound from further infections but also helps them heal more quickly and alleviates accompanying pain.
The menthol content of the spearmint essential oil has a relaxing and hot/cool effect on the muscles and nerves helping to relax any contractions or spasms.
Spasms can affect different muscles in the body, and can occur due to a variety of reasons. Perhaps you lifted something you shouldn’t have, worked a bit too hard at the gym or really pushed yourself on a long hike. Spasms are usually not a long-term issue, but they can affect your daily tasks. Menthol can ease pain from muscle pulls, spasmodic coughs, body aches, and muscle cramps.
The anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties of spearmint essential oil make it a great disinfectant. The oil can help to get rid of both external and internal infections. It’s especially effective in disinfecting countertop surfaces or areas that come into frequent contact with bodily fluids or germs. The Greeks used the oil to treat infectious diseases like dermatitis, scabies, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other transmissible, infectious diseases.5
Flatulence is not usually a major problem, but it could get a bit more severe when it becomes uncontrollable. The carminative properties of the oil help in the prevention of gas formation in the gut. Additionally, it helps to relieve the pain and release the gas present in the gastrointestinal tract. This reduces most of the problems associated with bloating and flatulence, including indigestion, stomach aches, cramps, loss of appetite, vomiting, and a restless feeling.
As a natural carminative, it’s the smooth muscle relaxing properties of the spearmint essential oil that assist with digestive issues. Spearmint essential oil can help keep your digestive system working smoothly and stay pain-free.
Stress is a bigger problem than most of us realize. It might only be a temporary condition, but for many, it becomes a daily chronic condition due to our increasingly fast-paced and demanding lifestyles. At times, stress can become so overwhelming that it’s difficult to carry out the basic functions because our minds are distracted. City dwellers are more susceptible to stress, due to the hectic city life that involves dealing with heavy traffic and busy weekdays, which could easily trigger stress.
The spearmint essential oil helps you to concentrate better, and helps to treat headaches and other neural problems related to stress. Moreover, the oil is great for your overall health because it stimulates and strengthens your nerves.6
It’s also a renowned mood booster. Inhaling its aroma is known to induce positive feelings and thoughts to fight away nervousness and anxiety. Most of us experience days we just feel down. Aromatherapy that includes spearmint essential oil can help you in such circumstances by lifting your spirits.
Menstruation usually occurs without any major complications, but sometimes, it can be uncomfortable. Issues relating to cramps and fatigue are often temporary, but others such as atypical and heavy bleeding can be severe. Being able to alleviate such issues can be great for both the physical and mental health of women.
Spearmint is an emmenagogue, which means it stimulates menstruation and tones the uterus which can help with heavy bleeding and cramping.
The human body is far from simple. It contains many different systems and organs that work in unison to keep us healthy. Any problems with a system or organ can hinder the performance of the others in certain functions, which would ultimately affect our overall health. As such, it’s important to ensure that every system, whether it’s the immune, digestive, or respiratory is well maintained.
A tonic works to restore health and ensure the proper functioning of the various body systems. Spearmint functions as a tonic and maintains the general functions of the systems and organs in the body. It can also help to repair the different kinds of damage done on the body, and help the body to recover from wounds and injuries. The oil can also be helpful in regaining strength after a long bout of illness.
Spearmint essential oil stimulates the production and secretion of hormones in the body. It also stimulates both the brain and nerve function and helps to promote blood circulation. The oil also keeps the metabolism of your body at a high rate and helps to boost the function and strength of the immune system. Improved blood circulation helps in toxin removal and enhancing the performance of your immune system.
Much of the emotional and physical wellbeing of humans is reliant on having a proper hormonal balance. Spearmint oil helps the endocrine system in regulating the levels of different hormones in the body and keeping them balanced. This is very helpful in not only balancing metabolism but also interrupting the causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in women.
Alleviating Respiratory Problems
Spearmint oil contains menthol, which is perfect for alleviating respiratory problems caused by colds, allergies, bronchitis, and asthma. Inhaling the oil can clear congestion in the sinuses and in the respiratory system. The decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties of the oil are guaranteed to help you breathe much easier.
Promoting Good Oral Health
Just like peppermint oil, the spearmint essential oil is commonly used in mouthwashes and toothpaste. It’s popular due to its minty, cooling, fresh taste and fragrance, as well as due to the fact that it has excellent antiseptic and antibacterial properties. The oil can be added to your toothpaste or gargled to keep the breath fresh while protecting against oral infections and bacteria.
Spearmint essential oil has some gentle analgesic qualities that are helpful in treating headaches. It’s a natural remedy for tension, sinus, and hormonal headaches. The anti-inflammatory and cooling properties of the spearmint essential oil, as well as its analgesic effects, make it a great remedy for soothing aching muscles and joints. Whether you’re feeling some form of discomfort after a long day’s work, arthritis pain, or after an intense workout, you can experience great benefits from the spearmint essential oil.
For the Skin
The anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of the spearmint essential oil can be used in the treatment of skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne. It can also effectively treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot, jock itch, and nail fungus.
While spearmint may be your favorite flavor of gum or toothpaste, it can offer you a whole realm of health benefits, which explains why it has such a rich, storied history. MONQ uses spearmint in our Vibrant personal diffuser to help you feel more alert and energetic.