Spearmint oil (Mentha spicata) comes from the Lamiaceae or mint family that also houses peppermint and pennyroyal. Spearmint is known as the “milder mint,” providing a gentle, cooling mint addition to various fragrances and foods. Spearmint essential oil is distilled from the aromatic leaves of the spearmint plant, and it’s best known for its cool, minty aroma that can stimulate the senses and provide soothing relief.
The spearmint plant is usually grown for culinary reasons and/or for ground cover. Members of the mint family are fast-growing and tend to spread outwards rather than grow upwards. Mint doesn’t get much taller than a few feet tall, and its blooms are typically in various hues of pink and lilac. Fresh mint leaves are typically used for cooking, baking, or drinks. It’s a popular garnish for cocktails, and the plant has been found to be a powerful pest repellant.
Spearmint has a cooling mint smell known for its ability to energize the mind. Its slightly medicinal scent is resemblant to that of peppermint, but it’s much gentler and sweeter on the nostrils. Its aroma may bring to mind gum, toothpaste, or other breath-freshening products because of its widespread use in dental products. In aromatherapy, spearmint oil is used for its calming and focusing abilities, as well as the minty depth it provides.
Spearmint has a rich history of use. In Greece, it was used as an aphrodisiac, most likely because of its stimulating effects. It was also used to scent bath water, treat STDs, clear the voice, and cure hiccups. Spearmint’s medicinal benefits were also documented as having the ability to help with respiratory issues and the common cold. It was a common thought that mint revitalized and restored the body, and spearmint was often served with or after meals to prevent or relieve digestion issues such as bloating, gas, or indigestion.
Essential oils contain naturally-occurring chemical constituents that have been studied for their health-related benefits. Spearmint oil’s constituents vary depending on the species and origin of the plant.
However, the following are the main chemical components of spearmint essential oils:
- Carvone - antifungal, antispasmodic, antinociceptive and a relaxant (source) (source) (source)
- Carveol - anticancer (source)
- Rosmarinic Acid - antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant (source)
- Limonene - antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (source)
- 1, 8-cineole - anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (source)
Aids Memory and Learning
Spearmint essential oil has been studied and found to increase memory and learning in rats. (source) Also, because spearmint has antioxidant properties, it’s able to reduce free radicals and oxidative stress, which means more of a fighting chance against degenerative age diseases. (source) Additionally, the ingestion of spearmint may have beneficial effects on brain tissue markers of oxidation that occur with age, thus reducing age-related cognitive decline. (source)
Decreases Anxiety and Improves Sleep
When studied, spearmint was found to have antianxiety effects, and it produced a marked increase in time spent sleeping. Researchers believe that spearmint’s relaxing and hypnotic effects aided in the reduced anxiety and better sleep, and they believe that “these results reinforce the potential use of [mint] in the therapy of anxiety.” (source)
Lowers Blood Pressure
Spearmint oil’s main constituent, carvone, has been found to reduce blood pressure. In fact, it was studied and found to be almost 100 times as effective as a leading blood pressure medication. This study indicates that spearmint is a great resource to reach for if you’re looking for a natural way to lower your blood pressure. (source)
Spearmint, like most essential oils, is antibacterial. Spearmint oil’s chemical composition was found to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties, rendering it a fantastic oil to reach for come cold and flu season. Mint has also been found to be effective against multiple types of human cancer cells! (source)
Multiple, large animal and human studies have found that spearmint essential oil is an analgesic and provides pain-relieving benefits. Pain relief can be achieved when applying the oil topically (diluted in a carrier oil), as well as achieved through inhalation of the oil. (source)
Spearmint’s anti-spasmodic properties make it a great aid in digestive health, which is likely why it’s been long revered for its ability to soothe aching tummies. (source) Traditionally, spearmint has been used in teas to aid with digestive issues. Spearmint can be made into a tea, or it can be added to teas as a form of herbal digestive medicine. Please note that spearmint tea is made with spearmint leaves; it is not made with essential oil.
Spearmint has also been found to alleviate bloating and abdominal cramps in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS). (source) And another study found that spearmint possessed antiemetic qualities, helping to suppress vomiting and nausea in those who inhaled the essential oil. (source)
Spearmint may help in reducing testosterone. Studies have found that spearmint tea has been linked to anti-androgen (reduction of testosterone levels) effects in women. When women have too much testosterone it can cause infertility or polycystic ovarian syndrome (POS). In these studies, women consumed spearmint tea and it produced a rebalancing of their hormones with a reduction in testosterone. (source)
Spearmint is known as the gentler mint because of it’s milder than its cousin, peppermint. Historically, it’s been used as a digestive aid and an aphrodisiac. It boasts a multitude of benefits, ranging from physical stimulation to mental stimulation while also reducing anxiety. Commercially, spearmint is used to flavor gums, toothpastes, and other breath-freshening products, and aromatherapists use it for its purifying and stimulating abilities. Spearmint is an essential oil to check out if you’re interested in a mildly scented calming stimulant. If you’re interested in seeing spearmint’s benefits for yourself, check out our Epiffany roll on.