Spearmint (scientific name Mentha spicata) is also known as spear mint. This species belongs to the mint family and has its origin in many regions of Europe as well as Asia, including the Middle East, China, the Himalayas and adjoining regions. Over the years, this species has been naturalized in various parts of the globe, including North America, South America, the northern and western regions of Africa and several oceanic islands.
A member of the mint family, spearmint is a perennially growing herb. It is a refreshing herb that is frequently used in toothpaste, chewing gum and breath mints. Moreover, it is also a wonderful culinary herb. The leaves of this plant are vibrant green with jagged margins and when rubbed they exude a breathtaking aroma, which can be availed throughout the year. People across Europe and various regions of Asia and Africa use this herb extensively in salads, flavoured beverages, and confectionery. It is also used to garnish various recipes.
Spearmint is quite easy to grow provided the soil is fertile and moist. This herb has a preference for loose soil conditions. Spearmint spreads quickly by means of an extensive network of runners under the soil. Usually, this herb is propagated by small stem divisions planted directly into the soil. The plant grows up to a height of 75 cm and produces deep green leaves that are oppositely arranged on the square stem of the plant. In fact, the leaves appear all along the stem of the plant. The leaves of spearmint are oval shaped with deep veins and have serrated margins and pointed ends. The plant bears mauve hued flowers on slender pointed spikes towards the end of summer.
An essential oil extracted from spearmint serves as a perfect antiseptic for ulcers and wounds. Application of spearmint essential oil on wounds and ulcers helps to shield them from being infected and septic. At the same time, this oil also facilitates the wound healing process. The antiseptic properties of spearmint essential oil are attributed to various compounds like caryophyllene, menthol and myrcene present in the herb.
Spearmint essential oil possesses antispasmodic property, which is attributed to the herb's menthol content. Menthol causes a cooling and relaxing effect on our muscles and nerves, in addition to aid relaxation of contractions whenever a spasm occurs. Hence, this oil is prescribed often with a view to provide effectual relief from spasmodic aches, coughs, aches in the intestines and abdominal region as well as pulling sensations. Moreover, the essential oil of spearmint possesses the aptitude to relieve muscle cramps or strains, nervous convulsions, in addition to spasmodic cholera.
As far as its benefits for emotions are concerned, spearmint essential oil possesses the aptitude to uplift an individual's mood, particularly when they are enduring stress, depression or mental fatigue. This oil can also be revitalizing, energizing and may even be stimulating. Many are of the view that spearmint essential oil promotes mental sharpness and confidence by means of sharing feelings or "putting oneself out there".
The essential oil of spearmint also possesses antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, which makes it an effective disinfectant. Application of this oil can aid in eliminating internal as well as external infections. This oil is especially useful in shielding wounds and ulcers inside the body, such as ulcers in the food pipe, stomach, and intestines, from being infected. In ancient Greece, people used spearmint essential oil to treat various infectious conditions such as athlete's foot, dermatitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, scabies and various other contagious and transmittable diseases.
In addition, spearmint essential oil also possesses relaxing properties, which help to unwind the muscles in the abdominal region as well as the intestines. In this way, this oil helps to remove the gases formed inside the stomach as well as the intestines in a natural way. This action of the spearmint essential oil alleviates several health issues, such as restiveness and discomfort, headaches, indigestion, vomiting, chest pain, insomnia, stomach aches, cramps, loss of appetite and various other related symptoms.
The effect of spearmint essential oil on the brain is cooling and relaxing. As a result, application of this oil helps to get rid of anxiety and tension from the cognitive center. In addition, this oil also enhances concentration. As the essential oil of spearmint is a cephalic (something related to the head) substance, it facilitates in curing headaches as well as other neural problems related to stress. It is also believed that this essential oil is beneficial for our general health, in addition to protecting the brain.
It has been proven that the spearmint essential oil is also beneficial for women as it effectively deals with problems related to menstruation like obstructed menses, irregular menstrual periods and even early occurrence of menopause. This oil can cure all the above mentioned problems. In addition, the essential oil of spearmint also stimulates hormone secretion. For instance, it works to promote secretion of estrogen, which eases menstruation, while ensuring the health of the uterus and the sexual organs. This oil also holds up the occurrence of menopause and alleviates problems related to menstruation, such as fatigue, nausea and pain in the lower regions of the abdomen.
It has been found that spearmint essential oil possesses the aptitude to encourage hormone secretion and also release of various enzymes, bile, and digestive juices. At the same time, this oil also promotes the optimal functioning of the brain and nerves, and stimulates seamless blood circulation. Spearmint essential oil also ensures that the metabolic rate is high, while boosting the immune system. This is primarily because when the blood circulation is good, it helps perk up the immune system and eliminate toxins from the body.
Restorative properties of the spearmint essential oil work to reinstate health and, at the same time, ensure the proper functioning of the entire organ systems of our body. In addition, a restorative also aids in repairing the damages caused to the body and helps in recuperating from various injuries and wounds. Moreover, a restorative functions help people regain their strength following prolonged ailments.
Aside from the above discussed benefits of spearmint essential oil, it is also an effectual insecticide. This essential oil is effective in warding off ants, white ants, mosquitoes, flies and moths. You can apply it topically onto your skin safely to protect yourself from mosquito bites. In addition, occasionally, spearmint essential oil is employed in fumigants, mosquito repellent creams and mats.
As of now, there is no report of any adverse side effects of spearmint essential oil application. Nevertheless, this essential oil is an emenagogue and, hence, pregnant women should always avoid using it.
In addition, ensure that you store this essential oil in a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets. Moreover, nursing mothers and people taking any medicine or are suffering from any health condition should necessarily check with their physician or health care provider before they start using spearmint essential oil.