Leaves, essential oil.
Latest studies undertaken with spearmint have demonstrated that ingestion of a tea prepared with the herb is likely to be effective to heal moderate hirsutism or excessive hairiness among women. The anti-androgenic characteristics of this herb lower the intensity of free testosterone in the blood and, at the same time, not having any influence whatsoever on the entire testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Several researches have been conducted to find the antifungal actions of spearmint. In fact, the essential oil obtained from spearmint has been found to possess antifungal properties, albeit to a lesser extent compared to oregano. When the Ames test was conducted, the essential oil from spearmint did not demonstrate proof of its ability to induce mutation or increase its rate (mutagenicity). In addition to being an antifungal herb, spearmint is also said to possess exceptional antioxidant characteristics. In effect, researchers found that the antioxidant actions of spearmint were equivalent to that of artificially prepared butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). Scientists have also studied spearmint for its value as an additive to lamb meat processed by radiation method since it possesses antioxidant properties and also because it is generally used to season lamb in Indian culinary. During the course of the research, it was detected that spearmint was effectual in putting off the oxidation of fats as well as decreasing the development of thiobarbituric acids that are considered to be injurious to health. Besides, spearmint is a widely used home-made herbal medication. Herbal medicine practitioners have customarily used a tea prepared with the leaves of spearmint to treat medical conditions, such as headaches, fevers, digestive problems as well as several other trivial maladies. The herb possesses antiemetic (a substance that suppresses vomiting or nausea), carminative (a medication that strengthens the digestive system), diuretic (a medication that induces urine flow), and regenerative, tonic as well as stomachic properties. The leaves of the spearmint ought to be collected just before the plants begin to bloom, dried and preserved for use afterward. The stems of spearmint plant may be softened by steeping in any liquid (macerate) and are useful for use as poultices on open wounds. The essential oil obtained from spearmint leaves possesses antiseptic properties, but may prove to be noxious or fatal if taken in excessive amounts. In traditional herbal medication, the stems as well as the essential oil of spearmint are used for treating cancerous growths. In fact, a poultice made with the spearmint leaves is believed to be an effective medication for tumors. The entire spearmint plant yields an essential oil that is used for culinary as well as medicinal purposes. To be precise, the essential oil obtained from spearmint is extensively used commercially for adding essence to food as well as preparing oral hygiene products. Years back, the spearmint herb was also used as a strewing herb since it is an excellent insect repellent. In fact, rodents and mice have an extremely aversion to the smell emitted by spearmint. Hence, it is little surprising that people found the spearmint plant as an effective insect repellent and widely used it indoors as a strewing herb (scattered it all around) to keep off insects and also spread the plants in granaries to protect their grains from the rodents. Spearmint leaves may be consumed fresh and raw or cooked. Since the spearmint possesses a potent flavour, they are commonly used for dressing salads or garnishing foods. In addition, the leaves of the herb are usually used in the preparation of 'mint sauce' that is again used to add essence to foods. Alternately, you may also prepare an herbal tea with the fresh or dried out leaves of spearmint. The tea not only tastes pleasant, but also leaves behind a revitalizing flavour of spearmint in the mouth. In addition, consumption of this herbal tea also helps in cleaning the digestive system and makes one feel better. The essential oil obtained from the spearmint leaves is utilized to add essence to sweets, soft drinks, ice cream and other similar food products.
Spearmint is a perennial herb that is indigenous to the central regions of Europe, but has now been naturalized all over the United States and Canada. This species may be found growing in abundance naturally along the roads, in waste lands, especially in moist soils that receive enough of sunlight. Cultivation of spearmint is relatively easy as the plants are able to thrive in majority of the soil types as well as conditions provided the soil is not parched. This plant has a preference for sunlight, as this facilitates production of the essential oils. Nevertheless, spearmint also has the aptitude to grow in partial shade. Spearmint may be propagated by the root division method and you may undertake dividing the roots of the plants for propagation at any time of the year. The plant has an entangled creeping root system from which give out erect stems. Spearmint stems have a four-sided shape and they usually grow up to a height of two feet. The stalks of the spearmint leaves are small. The bright green leaves of the plant are crumpled, have resemblance to lances and have finely dented borders. Spearmint bears diminutive blooms that appear in clusters or whorls on the spines in the axils of the upper leaves. The color of the flowers varies from pink to lilac and they start blooming from the later part of June and continue to blossom all through August. The aerial parts of the spearmint plant are harvested as soon as the plants begin to flower. Ensure that you cut the stems a number of inches above the root in an arid day after the morning dew have evaporated. It is essential to do the harvesting before the scorching sun is able to take away any of the essential oil from the spearmint leaves. Following the harvesting, dehydrate the herb for use afterward. As mentioned earlier, spearmint plants are easy to cultivate as they adjust to and thrive in almost all types of soils and conditions, provided the soil is not extremely dry or parched. The plants flourish in heavy clay soils that can retain some moisture. Spearmint plants have a preference for sunlit locations, which suits their requirement for producing the essential oils. However, the plants also have the aptitude to tolerate and grow in semi-shaded areas. In brief, these plants have a preference for semi-shaded areas as well as a somewhat acidic soil. Usually, spearmint is cultivated for culinary purposes in home herbal gardens, but it is also in high demand commercially and, hence, the plants are also cultivated on large-scale for their essential oils. Spearmint plants have long crawling roots that help the herb to multiply rapidly. So, unless the random growth of these plants is restricted, they may soon invade other areas of your garden or take over it completely. If you are unable to provide the required space for their rapid growth, the best way to restrict the plants roots from spreading is to plant them in large containers having good drainage system and burying the containers in the ground. Alternately, you may also create subversive barriers encircling the roots with plastic sheets to prevent them from spreading all over the area. It is also necessary to uproot mature plants over three years, divide their roots and grow them in another location in your garden in the following season. This will keep the plants vivacious and increase the content of their essential oils. Also uproot and destroy all spearmint plants that have been infected or change color from green to yellowish. The entire spearmint plant is aromatic and emits a potent mint scent. The diminutive flowers growing in whorls are very attractive and their color and aroma help to draw large number of bees and butterflies. When grown alongside vegetables, such as tomatoes and cabbages, spearmint plants help to protect them from being invaded by insects like cabbage root flies and other burrowing pests. It may be noted that the strong aroma of the plants also keep many animals away from them. For instance, members belonging to this genus are never or seldom bothered by the browsing deer. Usually, many people propagate spearmint by its seeds. If you too wish to adopt this method, sow the seeds of spearmint during the spring in a cold frame. You will find that the rate of the seeds' germination is quite fast and the survivability of the seedlings too is reasonably good. Once the seedlings have grown to a certain height so that they may be handled, prick them out individually and plant them in separate containers or pots indoors for some time. When the plants have developed further, take them out of the containers and plant them in their permanent positions outdoors during the summer. It may be mentioned here that the plants belonging to the Mentha species are extremely inclined to hybridization with other plants of the genus and, therefore, these seeds are not dependable for yielding genuine breeds. In fact, even if hybridization does take place, the seedlings of Mentha will hardly grow in a uniform manner and, hence, their content of the essential oils will differ from one plant to another. In case you are trying to grow spearmint plants having a specific aroma, it will be difficult to attain your objectives while propagating the plants by their seeds. In such cases, it is advisable to propagate spearmint by the root division process. Spearmint can be easily propagated through root division, which can be undertaken during any part of the year. Nevertheless, it is advisable to undertake root division during the spring or autumn as it would enable the plants to establish themselves relatively faster. Practically, almost all parts of the spearmint have the aptitude to develop into new plants. If you are making large root divisions, you may directly plant them into their permanent locations outdoors. In order to have the best growth, plant the divided root in rows and keep sufficient space between two plantations as the roots of the spearmint plants grow quickly and spread to large areas. They require adequate space for healthy growth. On the other hand, if you are looking for maximum growth of plants by root division, cut the roots of a mature plant in smaller pieces, each not more than 3 cm in length. Plant these slices in individual pots or containers and place them in a cold frame indoors for a while. Once the roots have established themselves well giving out new shoots, you may plant them in their permanent positions outdoors during the summer.
Spearmint contains proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, minerals: calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and vitamins: A, B3 (niacin).