Remember that crisp taste or that strong aroma when you’re using your mouthwash or sipping on a mojito? Spearmint is what’s behind this aromatic taste. Also known as the curled mint, fish mint, garden mint, or the common mint, spearmint is one of the most widely used varieties of the mint family. It brings about a calming yet invigorating effect as it is packed with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and essential nutrients. It is also a rich source of limonene, dihydrocarvone, and cineol.
Why Is Spearmint Truly Unique?
[pullquote]Besides being a very popular culinary addition for its pleasant aroma, spearmint has also been used for centuries in Ayurveda for its power to reduce nausea and vomiting and ease other gastrointestinal issues like stomach pains, flatulence, and irritable bowel syndrome.[/pullquote]
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) was a herb native to Europe and Asia, but now it has spread to most parts of the world. It grows around the year. You can identify the plant from its spear-shaped and pointed leaves, which is where it gets its name. It also has a square-shaped stem, broad leaves, and white or pink flowers.
The leaves are where the true value of this herb lies. The main active ingredients in spearmint are Mint L-carvone and limonene. In addition, the amount of menthol in spearmint is less than in most other mint varieties, which makes it the least pungent and one of the subtlest herbs in the mint family.
Check out some health benefits associated with this special herb when used in the form of green tea, herbal tea, or as an essential oil.
1. Fights Bacteria
Spearmint is more commonly associated with freshening your breath. However, its role in mouthwash or toothpaste isn’t just to keep your breath smelling good. The natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of menthol and other organic compounds in spearmint help protect your mouth and throat from infections, including those that can affect dental or gum health.
Even bacteria that cause bad breath or halitosis don’t stand a chance against this herb. Spearmint essential oil is known for its potential antibacterial properties. It effectively inhibits the growth of pathogens and strengthens your immune system.1
Spearmint helps you maintain proper oral health and leaves your mouth smelling great!2
2. Enhances Respiratory Health
Spearmint has a naturally soothing effect and can reduce inflammation. Consequently, it has a significant impact on the overall health of your respiratory system. Apart from providing relief when you have a sore throat or feel tightness in the chest, spearmint also alleviates congestion and irritation. Its powerful aroma can also help clear up sinuses and increase mental clarity.3
3. Improves Digestion
Spearmint can be used as a gentle tonic to ease an upset stomach. It also provides effective relief in case of gastrointestinal issues like flatulence, cramping, or bloating. Spearmint should be your preferred choice during pregnancy as it helps prevent morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting. Spearmint tea or chewing directly on spearmint leaves is often recommended to treat or manage irritable bowel syndrome more effectively.4
4. Balances Your Hormones
Spearmint, in the form of a herbal tea, is particularly effective in managing or treating polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or any other form of hormonal imbalance. The powerful organic compounds present in spearmint can inhibit and stimulate the endocrine system in multiple ways. This helps optimize your hormonal balance and prevents complicated metabolic side effects, including hirsutism, by reducing excessive testosterone levels in women.5
5. Improves Blood Circulation
A little helping of spearmint contains more iron than the daily recommended dosage. This helps stimulate the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Besides preventing anemia, the increased iron content aids in enhancing blood circulation to your entire body, thereby, boosting your energy levels, and improving your ability to heal quickly.
6. Enhances Heart Health
Spearmint is rich in potassium, which is critical to maintaining ideal blood pressure. Potassium dilates your blood vessels and relieves the stress on your blood vessels and arteries. This makes spearmint a good bet to prevent atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.
7. Provides Relief From Stress
Menthol, a powerful active ingredient in spearmint, brings about a soothing effect in your body. This way, you tend to be in a calm and relaxed state. Whether you suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, a cup of spearmint tea is what you need to ease your mind. The positive soothing effect of menthol then comes into play and eliminates the negative effects of chronic stress hormones on your body.
Can You Consume Too Much Spearmint?
Some of you can be sensitive or allergic to spearmint. Even though the reaction could be mild, it is in your best interest to avoid the herb altogether!
When you’re expecting, excessive use of spearmint tea might cause damage to your uterus. If you’re breastfeeding, it is advisable that you stay safe and avoid consuming spearmint in amounts greater than those found in food.
Spearmint oil can also cause irritation to your skin and eyes. You could even end up experiencing muscle pain. Higher amounts of spearmint tea seem to greatly affect your kidneys and liver. In theory, consuming a large amount of spearmint tea might worsen kidney disorders or even increase liver damage.6
|↑1||Imai, Hirokazu, Kenji Osawa, Hideyuki Yasuda, Hajime Hamashima, Taketoshi Arai, and Masanori Sasatsu. “Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria.” Microbios 106 (2000): 31-39.|
|↑2||Sulieman, Abdel Moneim E., Sitana E. Abdelrahman, and Awad M. Abdel Rahim. “Phytochemical analysis of local Spearmint (Mentha spicata) leaves and detection of the antimicrobial activity of its oil.” Journal of Microbiology Research 1, no. 1 (2011): 1-4.|
|↑3||Spearmint. U.S. Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Elizabeth L. Digestive Wellness for Children: How to Strengthen the Immune System. Volume 2. 276|
|↑5||Grant, Paul. “Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti‐androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. a randomized controlled trial.” Phytotherapy Research 24, no. 2 (2010): 186-188.|
|↑6||Spearmint. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|