While spearmint is most popularly used as a seasoning for food and beverages, it is also used for its healing benefits, which are similar to those of peppermint. Many people prefer the less intense flavor and scent of spearmint over that of peppermint. Spearmint essential oil comes from the Mentha spicata plant, which has bright green leaves unlike peppermint's dark green. This versatile oil has numerous health benefits, although you should consult a certified aromatherapist for the best method of using essential oils.
Spearmint has strong anti-bacterial properties, as do most essential oils. A 2001 study by H. Imai and colleagues in "Microbios" found that spearmint essential oil blocked the growth of bacteria, even antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including H. pylori, Salmonella, E.coli and MRSA. Add 20 to 40 drops spearmint oil to 3.5 oz. water in a spray bottle to use as a cleaning solution.
Spearmint was used in the past by Native Americans for digestive troubles and is still used today for the same purpose. This essential oil relieves problems such as indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea and a lack of appetite. Combine one drop of spearmint oil and a little bit of honey with one cup warm water and drink to ease your digestive troubles.
Cold and Flu
When you are not feeling well, use spearmint to relieve some of your symptoms. If you have a fever, spearmint helps you sweat and cool down. It eases headaches and migraines. The oil releases congestion and opens your airways to help you breathe easier. Add a few drops of spearmint oil to your bath to drop your fever and as an expectorant.
Like peppermint, spearmint has pain-relieving properties. The oil is especially beneficial for aching muscles and pain associated with menstruation. Spearmint may also help inflammation. A 2008 study by C.Z. Zhao and colleagues in the Chinese journal "Zhejiang Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban" found that spearmint oil improved inflammation in rats that had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. For sore muscles, add 20 drops of spearmint to 3.5 oz. of water in a spray bottle and spray on your sore muscles. Let it dry without rubbing it in. For other pain, make a massage oil with 40 to 60 drops of spearmint added to 3.5 oz. of a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil, or add a couple drops to your bath.
Spearmint's uplifting and stimulating scent can relieve mental and physical fatigue, nervous stress and a depressed mood. Spearmint can also help palpitations, shock, vertigo and dizziness. For these concerns, put one to two drops of spearmint on a cold compress and apply it to your forehead, inhale the oil from the bottle or disperse the scent into the air with a diffuser. You can also use spearmint oil for bad breath by adding one drop to a cup of warm water as a mouthwash.
- "The Essential Natural Health Bible"; Nerys Purchon; 2008
- PubMed: Inhibition by the Essential Oils of Peppermint and Spearmint of the Growth of Pathogenic Bacteria
- "Aromatherapy Oils: A Complete Guide"; Carol and David Schiller; 1996
- PubMed: Effect of Spearmint Oil on Inflammation, Oxidative Alteration and Nrf2 Expression in Lung Tissue of COPD Rats