You may know spearmint as a common flavor for gum, but this cooling herb can do much more than simply freshen your breath–although it does do that too!
Also known as garden mint or common mint, spearmint (Mentha spicata) is thought to be the oldest species in the mint family. It is named for its spear-shaped leaves and has been used for centuries in food and medicine.
What Are the Benefits of Spearmint?
Boost Digestive Support
The phytocompounds within the spearmint plant are thought to support digestive health. The compound (-)-carvone can help limit muscle contractions in the digestive tract, which can help relieve indigestion and support healthy digestive function.
Aid in Relief from Discomfort
The rosmarinic acid natural in spearmint can reduce swelling and ease physical discomfort. Studies suggest that drinking spearmint tea can help ease joint discomfort, as the rosmarinic acid works within the body to tend to swollen and tired joints.
Help Hormone Regulation Support
The plant compounds within spearmint can work within the body’s endocrine system to help balance hormone production.
The endocrine system is an internal communication system that uses hormones to send messages throughout the body. The endocrine system plays an essential role in regulating body function, and chemical compounds in plants like spearmint can work with our own chemical hormones to help maintain balance within.
Evidence suggests that after drinking spearmint tea twice a day for a month, the herb’s compounds may reduce testosterone while increasing ovulation-related hormones such as luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol.
May Support Cognitive Function
The bright and cooling fragrance of spearmint could play a role in cognitive function. Studies have found that when used in aromatherapy, spearmint may boost memory, alertness, and focus.
May Support Oral Health
If you use spearmint-flavored gum or toothpaste, you may already be aware of some of spearmint’s beneficial effects on oral health, but where do those benefits come from?
It turns out the essential oils within the spearmint plant are antibacterial, and can help combat bacteria known to cause bad breath and gum issues.
May Support Healthy Blood Sugar
The polyphenols in spearmint may help regulate and lower blood sugar for people with diabetes by stimulating insulin production, the hormone responsible for managing blood sugar levels.
Aid in Tension Relief
If tension and stress is keeping you up at night, try a steaming cup of spearmint tea before bed!
The menthol found within the spearmint leaves can help relax the body and soothe tension throughout. By triggering gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production within the brain, menthol can help reduce stress, ease tension, and promote restfulness.
Even just breathing in the cooling scent of the spearmint’s essential oils can help activate receptors in the brain that promote relaxation.
The antioxidants in spearmint can work within the body to help stabilize free radicals. When left unchecked, free radicals introduced into the body from pollutants can attack healthy cells and lead to oxidative stress.
The spearmint leaves are packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C, rosmarinic acid, limonene, and menthol. Once absorbed into the body, these antioxidants can protect skin cells and support healthy immune function by disarming free radicals.
Antioxidants can also help reduce stress and relieve tension by helping relax blood vessels and increase blood circulation to the brain.
Spearmint has shown promise in aromatherapy not only in relieving stress, but also in providing respiratory support.
When breathed in, the oil found in the spearmint leaves can help clear phlegm and mucus in the nasal pathways and throat. The cooling menthol and soothing rosmarinic acid within spearmint can help reduce swelling that may interfere with breathing during congestion.
May Help Reduce Nausea
As the menthol in spearmint helps cool and revitalize the body, it can also help reduce nausea. Spearmint’s cooling and antioxidant properties may help relax stomach muscles, which can ultimately ease feelings of nausea.
And if stress has your stomach in knots, the calming nature of spearmint can help soothe your stomach as it works to lower stress levels within the brain.
How Often Should I Drink Spearmint Tea?
Spearmint is considered a gentle mint that can be enjoyed daily. The refreshing spearmint leaves are ideal for herbal teas like our own Mellow Mint CBD Tea that can be enjoyed morning or night.
However, as there is always the risk of too much of a good thing, we recommend sticking to no more than one to two cups a day.
How Long Does It Take For Spearmint To Work?
Spearmint can start providing it’s soothing benefits shortly after taking. When used in aromatherapy, the restorative effects may kick in within a few minutes. Spearmint tea may take closer to an hour or two to kick in, as the plant compounds must go through the digestive tract before they are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Does Spearmint Cause Side Effects?
While spearmint is considered extremely safe to consume for most people, you should not use it if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Anyone with a mint allergy may experience minor discomfort such as a rash, headache, dizziness, or irritation in the throat after using spearmint.
It is essential to only use the recommended dose of spearmint oil. Taking huge amounts at once can potentially cause adverse side effects such as kidney or liver damage. Typically, two tablespoons of spearmint per day are enough to produce the desired benefits without causing damage.
Spearmint may also interact with certain medications. Depending on what medications you take, it is best to speak with your doctor before adding spearmint tea to your daily routine.
The Bottom Line
Spearmint is a gentle, revitalizing, and refreshing herb that can provide soothing benefits morning or night. It’s why we love adding spearmint to some of our teas here at the Apothecary, along with other wellness-boosting herbs and botanical compounds.
Chemical composition, antioxidant, antimicrobial and Antiproliferative activities of essential oil of Mentha spicata L. (Lamiaceae) from Algerian Saharan atlas | BMC Complementary and Alternative Research