Spearmint, also simply called mint, is in the same family as peppermint but is a different species. According to the Natural Standard website, spearmint has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Ayurveda, which is India's traditional medical system, acknowledges spearmint for its ability to soothe colic in infants, reduce nausea and help relieve other gastrointestinal issues such as flatulence, stomach aches and irritable bowel syndrome. No side effects to spearmint have been discovered. But it's always smart to consult with your doctor before taking any herb if you're pregnant, breast-feeding or on medication.
Remedy for Nausea
Spearmint is considered an anti-emetic herb, which means it works to lessen or alleviate nausea and vomiting. Ayurveda promotes it as a remedy for vomiting during pregnancy. In a study published in "Ecancermedicalscience" in 2013, scientists looked at the effect of spearmint on nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients. Compared to the placebo group, patients administered spearmint oil experienced significantly less nausea and vomiting within 24 hours after consumption. There were no side effects to the spearmint oil, leading the scientists to conclude it's both safe and effective.
Hirsutism is the condition of a woman having a large amount of dark, coarse hair on unwanted places, such as above the lips, on the chin and on the chest and back. It's caused by having higher levels of male sex hormones, which can be caused by certain medical conditions and drugs. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends drinking 2 cups or spearmint tea a day to treat hirsutism. In a study published in "Phytotherapy Research" in 2007, 12 women with hirsutism were given 1 cup of spearmint tea twice a day for five days. By the end of the study, their levels of male sex hormones had decreased and female hormones increased. The scientists concluded that spearmint could be used to treat mild cases of hirsutism.
It May Kill Bacteria
In a study published in "Microbios" in 2001, scientists looked at the effect of spearmint oil on various types of pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, in test tubes. They found that the spearmint oil inhibited growth of all bacterial strains they tested for. The larger the amount of spearmint oil was applied, the larger effect it had on inhibiting the growth of the pathogens. The scientists concluded spearmint has an antibacterial effect. Spearmint is commonly associated with cleanliness, which is why it's used in mouthwashes, soaps and other products for cleaning. The antibacterial effect of spearmint tea in the human body has not been confirmed, however.
It May Reduce Inflammation
In a study published in the Chinese medical journal "Zhejiang Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban" in 2008, scientists investigated the effects of spearmint oil on inflammation in rats. Rats induced with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were given spearmint oil daily for three weeks. By the end of the study, the scientists found that destruction of lung tissue diminished. They concluded the spearmint oil had a protective mechanism and decreased lung inflammation and oxidation. The effect of spearmint tea on inflammation in humans has not been determined.
- Natural Standard: Medicinal Uses for Spearmint
- HerbWisdom.com: Spearmint
- Ecancermedicalscience: Antiemetic Activity of Volatile Oil from Mentha Spicata and Mentha × Piperita in Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hirsutism
- Phytotherapy Research: Effect of Spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) Teas on Androgen Levels in Women With Hirsutism
- Microbios: Inhibition by the Essential Oils of Peppermint and Spearmint of the Growth of Pathogenic Bacteria
- Zhejiang Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban: Effect of Spearmint Oil on Inflammation, Oxidative Alteration and Nrf2 Expression in Lung Tissue of COPD Rats
Karen McCarthy is a health enthusiast with expertise in nutrition, yoga and meditation. She currently studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has been writing about nutrition since 2012. She is most passionate about veganism and vegetarianism and loves to promote the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.