Commonly known as Spearmint, Mentha spicata is a popular type of mint. It is a common herb native to Europe and Asia, and the Benefits of Spearmint have a long history in traditional medicine.
See also Spearmint vs. Peppermint Differences and Health Benefits and The 12 Healing Herbs of the Bible.
The plant is part of the mint family, which includes other popular herbs such as peppermint and basil. It, however, gets its name from its spear-shaped leaves.
Like most mint herbs, the leaves make various products, including teas, supplements, and essential oils. In recent years, spearmint has gained much popularity due to its effectiveness in treating gastrointestinal disorders such as indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.
But what more can spearmint do for your body and system? Read on to find out other benefits of spearmint and how you can use it.
Vitamins and Minerals Present in Spearmint
Spearmint is a powerhouse of vital nutrients required by the body for various functions. Some of these include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Thiamine (B1)
- Niacin (B3)
- Vitamin B12
- Flavones and Flavanones
The Health Benefits of Spearmint
1. Relieves Digestive Issues
Whether it’s bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, or general discomfort, you’ve likely experienced one of these. While the causes may vary, digestive issues can be disturbing and unsettling. And while you need to address the specific cause, natural remedies like spearmint can help alleviate the symptoms no matter the cause.
Spearmint contains carvone, a natural compound that potently inhibits contractions of muscles in the digestive system, thus relieving abdominal pain and indigestion.
Spearmint may even be beneficial in improving gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In a study involving people with IBS, those who took a spearmint-containing supplement had less abdominal discomfort, including pain and bloating, than a placebo.
Spearmint may also be effective in patients receiving chemotherapy. One study found that spearmint oil could relieve nausea and vomiting, two common side effects of chemotherapy.
2. Enhances mental abilities
While most people use coffee and caffeinated beverages to get a speedy boost of mental focus, the effectiveness may decrease just as quickly. What’s even worse? Others say that these beverages cause them to crash and sleep.
Unlike coffee, spearmint doesn’t have any caffeine and is completely natural. Instead, it’s rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that prompt neurogenesis, which is the development of new brain cells.
It does this while protecting the already working neurons and enhancing the neurotransmitter levels, thus leading to improved cognitive benefits.
3. A Rich Source of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural compounds that help fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules resulting from food, environmental pollution, and UV rays.
If left to accumulate, free radicals could send the body to oxidative stress, making one more exposed to illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Spearmint has a huge concentration of antioxidantssuch as rosmarinic acid, menthol, flavones, and limonene.
These chemical compounds protect the body against free radicals and boost repair. So by taking spearmint, you increase your body’s protection against free radicals and oxidative stress.
4. Reduces Stiffness from Arthritis Pain
Dealing with arthritic pain can be not only painful but also stressful. One has to deal with stiffness, swollen joints, and inflamed knuckles, among other uncomfortable issues.
Taking spearmint, however, may help improve these symptoms. This is because spearmint is rich in rosmarinic, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that can help alleviate inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
In one study, taking spearmint tea twice a day for 16 weeks improved pain and other symptoms associated with knee arthritis.
As such, taking spearmint tea and beverages reduces the pain, stiffness, and effects resulting from osteoarthritis.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension refers to when your high blood pressure is higher than normal. It often goes unnoticed, which is why you should always go for checkups. If not controlled, high blood pressure can result in damaged, less elastic blood vessels, heart attack, heart disease, kidney issues, and vision problems.
Spearmint contains potassium, a crucial nutrient in the dilation of blood vessels. This allows blood to freely and with normal pressure through your arteries. Potassium also balances out the sodium in the blood. Too much sodium can cause narrow and stiffened blood vessels causing blood pressure.
Additionally, research shows that the carvone in spearmint reacts similarly to some ingredients in high blood pressure medication.
While you can take spearmint in various ways, drinking it as tea can be more beneficial in lowering blood pressure.
6. Balances Hormones in Women
In most cases, hormonal imbalances occur when there are reduced levels of female hormones, with an increase in the hormones dominant in males.
This can interfere with the emotional and physical well-being of the woman. In most cases, it may cause menstrual issues, acne, and conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Spearmint provides relief as it lowers the male hormones and increases the female hormones such as LH (luteinizing hormone), estradiol, and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). These three are needed for ovulation and to stabilize a woman’s cycle.
Additionally, since spearmint has some antispasmodic properties, it may alleviate menstrual cramps and discomfort during this time.
7. Manages Stress Levels
It’s normal to experience some level of stress, but too much of it can cause headaches, anxiety, poor eating habits, anger outbursts, and more. Using spearmint in these moments may help improve your symptoms and cause you to feel better.
Like other mints, spearmint contains menthol, which provides a cooling and soothing effect when inhaled or topically applied. It thus can provide a soothing and relaxing effect to your nerves, helping you calm down and reduce anxiety.
This is because spearmint interacts with GABA receptors in the brain which help slow nerve activities, thus promoting calmness.
When inhaled, it can help to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety. Once applied on the forehead and back of the neck, it can help relieve tension headaches.
8. Decongests the throat and Soothes inflammation
In case you suffer throat congestion, spearmint is a refreshing herb that will decongest and soothe your throat.
In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties and gives you an anecdotal feel.
Following this, most people use it to manage sore throats, colds, and flu. Simply cut a few leaves, put them in hot water, cover for a few minutes, and drink while the mixture is still warm.
While it may not treat viral infections, it may help ease the symptoms and facilitate healing.
9. Prevents Against Bacterial Infections
The body has good and bad bacteria. When the body is dealing with a harmful bacterium, you will likely suffer a bacterial infection.
These infections can occur in any body part and show symptoms such as chills, diarrhea, vomiting, nauseous feelings, and fever. These infections are treated using antibiotics, among other medications.
Research shows spearmint has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that prevent and reduce infections from staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
It is also a common flavoring component in breath mints, toothpaste, and chewing gum. Besides freshening your breath, it also kills harmful breath in the mouth that is responsible for bad breath.
10. Controls Facial Hair Growth in Women
Facial hair growth in women is often due to an increase in the male hormones (androgens). This is especially common in menopausal women due to the declining levels of female hormones. This causes an imbalance that causes the male hormones to dominate.
Other common causes include polycystic ovarian syndrome, adrenal gland disorders, and some medications, including those used to stimulate hair growth, immune suppressants, and anabolic steroids.
In a 30-day study involving women with PCO, drinking two cups of spearmint tea resulted in them having reduced facial hairs.
Another recent study found that drinking spearmint daily for around three months reduced hirsutism in women. Hirsutism is a condition where one experiences an increase in hair growth, mostly on the face and chest. The condition can cause a woman emotional distress, lack of self-esteem, discrimination, and discomfort. This can be caused by various factors, including an imbalance in hormones or the use of a particular medication. While there is no surefire way to cure the condition, spearmint is a natural way to help manage the condition.
11. Weight Loss Management
Mint leaves, including those from spearmint can promote weight loss in different ways. For one, they are low in calories and sugar. They also boost the metabolism of fat cells enabling the body to burn fat more efficiently and quicker. For best results, spearmint should be coupled with a consistent exercising regimen.
There are various reasons that could cause one to experience weight gain, and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is one of them. Like most herbal teas, spearmint tea contains few calories and no fat or sugars. This means it will make one feel fuller, resulting in weight loss. Additionally, it boosts metabolism.
12. It can improve diabetes
Spearmint may be a good natural remedy to help anyone with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels. In a lab study, diabetic rats given a spearmint extract recorded a reduction in their glucose levels, while healthy rats had no changes. While more human studies are needed to confirm these findings, spearmint is a promising remedy.
13. Reduces inflammation
Acute inflammation is good and an essential part of the immune system. However, if it stays for too long, inflammation can pave the way for various chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
Spearmint is rich in antioxidant compounds that also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, they can help reduce inflammation in the body.
How to Use Spearmint
Spearmint has a myriad of uses, from culinary to medicinal applications. The leaves are used to flavor many foods and beverages, while the essential oil is used in cosmetics and fragrances. Here are a few ways you can use spearmint at home.
- Spearmint Syrup: To make the syrup, you need to boil some spearmint leaves with some natural sweetener and water. You can then chill the mixture and use it to spice your drinks.
- Spearmint Tea: Making spearmint tea is easy. Add spearmint leaves to your teapot and boil for five to seven minutes. Depending on your preferences, you can serve hot or cold.
- Salads: Wash your spearmint leaves, chop them, and sprinkle them on your fruit or salsa salads. It is an instant pick-me-up that your taste buds will recognize.
- Cookies: If you are fond of cookies, this is for you. Chop spearmint leaves and add them to your cookie dough for that exciting taste.
- Garnishing: Pluck a few spearmint leaves and garnish your puddings and desserts.
- Iced Beverages: This is perfect for a hot day. You can add some freshly ground spearmint leaves to your iced beverages for an enhanced touch of coolness.
- Soups: You can also add your spearmint leaves for an enhanced soup.
- Smoothies: When making your smoothies, simply add a few fresh leaves to get that refreshing flavor.
Potential Risks of Spearmint
Spearmint doesn’t seem to have any side effects when taken in foods. When applied to the skin, it is also safe but could cause allergic reactions in some people.
However, when one is expectant, it is crucial to be cautious about excessive intake, as excessive oral ingestion could damage the uterus. Those suffering from kidney disorders and liver disease are advised against taking it excessively as it could worsen the illnesses.
If you’re on any medication, it’s also good to seek your doctor’s advice first.
Spearmint is a type of mint known for its power to relieve indigestion and other digestive issues. It can also help reduce inflammation, regulate glucose levels, enhance weight loss, minimise stress, and balance hormones.
Spearmint can be used in different ways, including making tea, adding to salads, or as a garnish. Spearmint is also available as an essential oil. This you can inhale to relieve tension headaches or apply to the skin to improve your skin.
No matter which kind you settle for, spearmint is definitely worth considering if you are looking for a natural way to enhance your health.
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