What is spearmint?

Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a form of mint much like peppermint and known for its unmistakable flavor. Spearmint is a perennial plant that delivers a sweet and minty taste and aroma. For many years, spearmint has flourished from the candy, gum, and dental product businesses due to its positive love and breath-freshening properties. Spearmint essential oil promotes fresh breath and can be used regularly in baking and cooking to make salad dressings, beverages, desserts, and meat marinades. Aromatically, the energizing and cleansing aroma of Spearmint oil promotes a sense of attention while simultaneously uplifting mood. Spearmint oil may also encourage digestion and help to reduce occasional stomach upset.  Spearmint is extremely different from peppermint, making it a milder choice to use on children and people with sensitive skin.

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The spearmint plant

The spearmint plant, Mentha spicata, is an herbaceous perennial that's a member of the Lamiaceae plant family. This plant is distinguished by its ovate to lanceolate dark green leaves, and its terminal spikes wherefrom develop tiny, lilac, pink, and white blossoms. The leaves of the plant can be quite fragrant. It hails from Europe and Asia but now generally grows on five continents worldwide. It receives its name from its characteristic spear-shaped leaves. Spearmint has a sweet taste and is often used to flavor chewing gum, candy, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Another way to enjoy this herb is brewed into a tea, made from either fresh or dried leaves. Yet, this mint isn't just tasty but might also be good for you.

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Spearmint essential oil science

Spearmint essential oil chemistry

Main Chemical Components: carvone, limonene, 1, 8-cineole, β-myrcene

The major chemical component of spearmint is carvone. Carvone includes a monoterpene backbone and is a part of the ketone functional group. Carvone contains energizing properties that strongly contribute to spearmint's mood-uplifting abilities. Based on a newly released study by Brazilian neuroscientists, the sort of carvone ((R)-(-)-carvone) discovered in spearmint revealed, in an experimental preclinical study, a statistically significant calming effect against a heightened state of excitement. This finding leads to the belief that spearmint may support a healthy nervous system function.

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Spearmint nutrition facts

Spearmint's nutritional profile

The nutritional value of 100 g of fresh spearmint is:


Energy -- 44 kilocalories

Carbohydrates -- 8.41 g

Fat -- 0.73 g

Protein -- 3.29 g

Iron -- 11.87 mg

Manganese -- 1.118 mg

Copper -- 0.240 mg

Potassium -- 458 mg

Riboflavin -- 0.175 mg

Pyridoxine -- 0.158 mg

Vitamin C -- 13.3 mg

Cholesterol -- 0 mg

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) -- 0.061 mg

Vitamin B6 -- 0.041 mg

Folate (vitamin B9) -- 3 μg

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Spearmint health benefits

Potential health benefits of spearmint

Fresh spearmint may be utilized in many different recipes. Many health benefits are attributed to spearmint, whether consumed fresh or used as an essential oil. Today, some people use spearmint to help alleviate symptoms of nausea, indigestion, gasoline, headache, toothache, cramps, and sore throat. Additionally, it is applied topically to the skin to reduce swelling due to muscle or nerve pain. Spearmint essential oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, according to research presented in the 2011 International Conference on Environmental and Agriculture Engineering. Spearmint may help alleviate symptoms of digestive problems, by relaxing the stomach muscles, reducing symptoms of nausea, and other digestive issues. Hirsutism in women results in hair to grow on body parts such as the face, breasts, and stomach. It may result in a lot of distress. The hair grows due to excessively high levels of this"male" androgen hormones. Spearmint and rosemary extracts have recently been proven to improve memory.

- May Help Women With Hormone Imbalances

Spearmint tea is thought to have beneficial effects on women's hormones, such as diminishing male hormones such as testosterone and raising hormones necessary for ovulation. For women with hormone imbalances, spearmint tea can offer relief. Studies in women have shown that it may decrease male hormones, such as testosterone, while raising female hormones necessary for ovulation.

- May Reduce Facial Hair in Women

Elevated levels of male hormones, or androgens, are connected to facial hair overgrowth in women. Having spearmint tea may help reduce hirsutism or expansion of dark, coarse hair on women's face, chest, and abdomen. In reality, it is a common herbal treatment for unwanted hair growth in Middle Eastern states. Scientific studies in women with facial hair have demonstrated that drinking spearmint tea might help. In a study, 12 women with PCOS and nine women with facial hair due to unknown causes were awarded two cups of spearmint tea twice daily during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. In another study in 41 women with PCOS, women who drank two cups per day of spearmint tea reported decreased facial hair. Two cups of spearmint tea per day can help reduce facial hair growth in women. Studies indicate that it can help lower testosterone, which is connected to the growth of facial hair.

- May Improve Memory

Results from studies show evidence that this herb can help enhance memory. In an animal study, mice given a spearmint extract experienced enhanced memory and learning, as revealed by their performance on a maze test. As a result, the evidence about the advantages of the sort of mint for memory is limited but promising, especially for older adults.

- May Lower Blood Sugar

Spearmint tea might help lower blood glucose in people with diabetes. While human-based research on this possible effect is lacking, animal studies show promising results. Animal studies have indicated that this herb may significantly lower blood glucose in diabetic rats.

- Helps Digestion

Spearmint is usually utilized to relieve symptoms of indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and gas. The compound (-)-carvone, which can be naturally found in spearmint, has been proven to inhibit muscle contractions in the digestive tract, which might explain how this herb helps alleviate digestive upsets. This herb may also alleviate chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Spearmint essential oil applied to the skin, reduced nausea, and vomiting incidence compared to a placebo. As a result, while research on the effects of this sort on mint on digestion is restricted, some evidence indicates that it could be helpful. Spearmint has been demonstrated to ease digestive symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloating, though more study is required.

- Packed With Antioxidants

Antioxidants are organic chemical compounds in plants that help protect against and repair damage caused by free radicals, which are harmful molecules that could result in oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with several chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Spearmint comprises a high number of antioxidant compounds, including rosmarinic acid, flavones, and flavanones such as limonene and menthol. Two tablespoons (11 g ) of spearmint also provides 2% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. Spearmint is high in beneficial antioxidant chemicals that help protect against and repair damage caused by free radicals.

Lower Stress

Spearmint tea may help reduce stress and promote relaxation. In South American countries, this tea is usually used to treat stress and insomnia. Moreover, the plant leaves contain menthol, which has a calming, soothing effect on the body. Spearmint alleviates stress and promotes relaxation by interacting with GABA receptors in mind. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain in reducing nerve action.

- May Help Arthritis Pain

Spearmint may help alleviate joint pain brought on by arthritis. A massive review study of both human and animal studies concluded that essential oils made from this mint had pain-relieving effects. Similarly, in a single 16-week study in 62 individuals with arthritis of the knee, frequent spearmint tea consumed twice daily reduced joint stiffness and physical handicap. Spearmint has shown beneficial effects on arthritis pain in both animal and human studies. Furthermore, tea made from this herb can decrease stiffness and disability due to arthritis.

Lower Blood Pressure

Spearmint may help lower blood pressure. Though human research on this possible property is inaccessible, some scientific evidence indicates that this herb may have beneficial effects in this respect. In actuality, in one animal study, (-)-carvone was proven to be 100 times more effective at reducing blood vessel contractions than a widely used blood pressure medicine, verapamil. A chemical in spearmint known as (-)-carvone was demonstrated to behave similarly to calcium-channel blockers, drugs used to treat hypertension. 

- Fight Bacterial Infections

Spearmint is found as a flavoring agent in many chewing gums, toothpaste, and breath mints. It not only freshens your breath but also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. This action might be responsible for your mouth to get rid of the bacteria that cause bad breath. Spearmint essential oil is also an effective agent against several types of harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Spearmint has antibacterial activity against several kinds of harmful germs, including bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli and Listeria.

- Easy To Incorporate Into Your Diet

Spearmint is easy to improve your diet. You can buy spearmint in tea bags or as loose-leaf tea, or grow your own for brewing. This herbal tea is delicious to enjoy either hot or cold. It is also caffeine- and - calorie-free, which makes it a sweet treat to have at any time. Spearmint and spearmint oil are generally safe to ingest at the amounts commonly found in tea or food, but it is unknown whether spearmint oil in the pure form taken by mouth is safe. Undiluted utilization of spearmint oil may be irritating to skin and mucous membranes. Spearmint is a tasty, minty herb that may have beneficial effects on your health.

- Other health conditions that spearmint may help include:

Mint supplies vitamins and aids digestion.

Toothache

Bad breath

Common cold

Diarrhea

Sore throat

Cramps

Muscle pain

Headache

Fatigue

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Spearmint essential oil

The spearmint essential oils have antifungal and antioxidant properties. They may be used in organic food preservation and as an insecticide. Unlike fresh spearmint, spearmint essential oil isn't edible. Before use, it has to be diluted with a carrier oil. It may irritate if it comes into contact with the skin or the eyes.

Serving suggestions for spearmint: New spearmint leaves contain a much lower amount of menthol than other mint species, making it less pungent and more suited to health beverages and cooking.

Oils That Blend Well with Spearmint Oil: Spearmint oil blends nicely with Lavender, Rosemary, Basil, Peppermint, and Eucalyptus essential oils for diffusion.

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Spearmint Oil Precautions

Cautions for Spearmint Oil

Spearmint oil may have possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you're pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor's care, consult your doctor. Avoid contact with eyes, ears, and other sensitive areas. The United States FDA lists spearmint as "generally recognized as safe for their intended use." People who have a mint allergy may experience a moderate response, such as skin rash, throat discomfort, headache, or dizziness.

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References

1. Material safety data sheet spearmint MSDS. (2005, October 9) http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9925066

2. FDA. (2016, April 1). Title 21: Food and drugs https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=582.10

3. Grant, P. (2010, February). Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytotherapy Research 24(2), 186-8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19585478

4. Health benefits of spearmint. (n.d.) https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/spearmint.html

5. McKay, D. L. & Blumberg, J. B. (2006, August). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy Research, 20(8), 619-33 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16767798

6. Nosrati, S., Alireza, S., Hosseini, E., Sarpeleh, A., SoflaeiShahrbabak, M., & SoflaeiShahrbabak, Y. (2011). Antifungal activity of spearmint (Mentha Spicata L.) essential oil on Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-cucumerinum the causal agent of stem and crown rot of greenhouse cucumber in Yazd, Iran. Presented at 2011 International Conference on Environmental and Agriculture Engineering. IPCBEE vol.15(2011) http://www.ipcbee.com/vol15/10-U00041.pdf

7. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). (n.d.). Spiced salad of braised beef with roasted rice http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spicedsaladofbraised_84246

8. Kanatt, S. R., Chander, R., & Sharma, A. (2007). Antioxidant potential of mint (Mentha spicata L.) in radiation-processed lamb meat [abstract]. Food Chemistry, 100(2) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881460500885X

9. Nozhat, F., Alaee, S., Behzadi, K., & Chegini, N. A. (2014, November). Evaluation of possible toxic effects of spearmint (Mentha spicata) on the reproductive system, fertility, and the number of offspring in adult male rats. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4224956/

10. Stewart, M. (2008, May). Fresh spearmint ice cream http://www.marthastewart.com/330145/fresh-spearmint-ice-cream

11. St. Louis University. (2013, November 14). Can certain herbs stave off Alzheimer's disease? [press release] http://www.slu.edu/rel-news-spearmint-1112

See: Home remedies for GERD & acid reflux

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