Spearmint is a pleasant-smelling species of mint often used in medicine for its claimed therapeutic properties.
The herb is found in many health food products, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and cosmetics .
Spearmint is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and vital nutrients.
There are many health claims associated with the consumption of the herb.
Spearming is also applied topically (to the skin) to help reduce swelling due to nerve or muscle pain.
Along with other herbs belonging to the mint family, spearmint has a square shaped stem. Its leaves are around 5 to 9 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm broad, the tips of the leaves are pointed (much like spears), hence its name "spearmint".
Despite having a very similar aroma to peppermint, spearmint does not contain as much menthol, but is rich in limonene, dihydrocarvone and cineol.
Health benefits of spearmint
Health benefits associated with spearmint:
Excellent antioxidant activity - a report, published in the Journal of Chemistry, revealed that spearmint extract has "good total phenolic and flavonoid contents. It exhibited excellent antioxidant activity, as measured by β-carotene bleaching and 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assays."
Antifungal properties - spearmint essential oil is associated with a number of antifungal properities, according to a study presented at the 2011 International Conference on Environmental and Agriculture Engineering.
Relieving symptoms of digestive problems - spearmint may help relax the stomach muscles, reducing symptoms of nausea and other digestive problems. However, more research is necessary to back this claim.
Treating hirutism (abnormal hair growth) - There is very promising data published in the journal Phytotherapy Research showing that drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day for five days could reduce the level of androgens in women with hirsutism. Women with hirsutism grow hair on their face, breasts, and stomach. This can cause a great deal of distress. The hair grows because of excessively high levels of the 'masculinizing' androgen hormones.
Other health conditions that spearmint may be effective at treating, include:
Ways of preparing spearmint
Spearmint contains a much lower level of menthol than other mint species, which makes it less pungent and more desirable to use in health drinks and cooking.
Below are a few serving suggestions:
- Chopping the leaves and sprinkling it onto food
- Using the leaves to make mint sauce
- Preparing spearmint tea
Spearmint's nutritional profile
Spearmint (Mentha spicata), fresh - Nutritional value per 100 g: - Source: USDA
- Energy - 44 Kcal
- Protein - 3.29 g
- Carbohydrates - 8.41 g
- Total Fat - 0.73 g
- Cholesterol - 0 mg
- 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
Written by Joseph Nordqvist