Meet your new summertime best friend, spearmint! This cooling plant is a great herb to incorporate into your life during those hot and sticky summer days. Its cooling, refreshing, and gentle nature helps to reduce heat in the body and gives you that minty fresh feeling from mouth to tummy as it fills you up! Plus, it can help to keep those pesky summer bugs away.
Spearmint, or Mentha spicata, is a perennial plant that hails from Europe and Asia, but now grows on 5 continents. It belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae, one of the largest of the flowering plant families! The mint family houses some of our most popular and favorite culinary spices such as rosemary, basil, and oregano, medicinal herbs such as lavender and peppermint, and pollinator-friendly landscaping plants such as bee balm and hyssop!
Folklore claims that Pluto’s wife, Proserpine, transformed a rival into the mint plant! Early use of this herb in ancient Athens also states that spearmint and peppermint were commonly used to scent different body parts. Spearmint was introduced to England by the Romans between 14ce and 15ce, where it then made its way to North America between the 17ce and 18ce. Another interesting fact about the history of spearmint is that it was used to prolong the shelf life of milk. Before refrigeration, spearmint was macerated and added to milk as the volatile oils in the herb helped to prevent the milk from curdling. In traditional Chinese medicine, mint has been used to stimulate stagnancy in the liver and digestive system.
Today, spearmint is recognized as a carminative, nervine, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antispasmodic. It is used medicinally for pain and inflammation, to calm the nervous system, and soothe digestive complaints such as gas, diarrhea, and indigestion as well as other symptoms such as headaches, sore throats, toothaches, and colds. This aromatic and refreshing member of the mint family is also a famous addition in many toothpastes, gums, shaving creams, soaps, and shampoos due to its scent association with feeling squeaky clean, and fresh! Spearmint is also used commercially in candies, and other food and cosmetic products, making it an essential herb in trade and commerce.
Spearmint shares many of the same medicinal benefits as its cousin peppermint, however, there are a few things that set these two family members apart. Spearmint contains a small fraction of menthol compared to peppermint, making the taste of spearmint much sweeter. It gets its flavor from the chemical component carvone, which is much subtler than menthol. The temperature of spearmint is not as cool as peppermint either, so spearmint is usually the choice of mint for children. Mints contain high amounts of volatile oils, which we can thank for the delicious aroma they pack into the plant! If you are struggling with insects or bugs in your garden or at your weekend barbeque, spearmint is for you! These volatile and potent oils within the leaves help to repel bugs and insects quite well. Consider planting some mint in your garden or adding some spearmint essential oil to your bug spray.
If you like to create your own medicinal herbal formulations at home, spearmint helps to improve the flavor of many bitter blends, especially for the kiddos! My personal recommendation to enjoy our herb of the month is to cold steep some spearmint tea overnight and enjoy it on a hot summer day. It’s a small, yet lovely way to cool off, wind down, and share a delicious refreshment with the whole family!
Whether by means of a cool glass of spearmint tea, your favorite gum, bug spray, or shaving cream, everyone has their own special way of enjoying spearmint.
You can find spearmint in our blends: Comfort Me Tea, Pain Away Magnesium Butter, Sweet Slumber Tincture and Tea, First Moon Rising Tea, Lucidity Dream Tea, Ignite! Tea, Lucid Dream Cordial, Root Beer Syrup Base, Smooth Operator Tea, Orb of Night Tea, A Breath of Fresh Pulling Oil: Mint, Sweet Slumber Honey, A Breath of Fresh Pulling Oil: Thieves, Lemonbalm Chillout Tea, When You’re Expecting Tea, Zen Parent Tea and Glycerite, Milkin’ It Tincture, and our Vitamin Boost Sipping Vinegar.
Boyles, Margaret. “12 Uses for Mint Leaves, from Health to Home.” Mint Has Health Benefits & so Much More!, 18 Jan. 2023, www.almanac.com/12-uses-mint-leaves-health-home.
Higley, Annamarie. What’s the Difference between Peppermint and Spearmint?, 29 Nov. 2018, www.tasteofhome.com/article/spearmint-vs-peppermint/.
Justis, Angela. “A Family Herb: Amazing Mint.” Herbal Academy, 18 Jan. 2018, theherbalacademy.com/a-family-herb-amazing-mint/.
Mahendran, Ganesan, et al. “The Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Spearmint (Mentha Spicata L.): A Review.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 5 Oct. 2021, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34087400/.
“Spearmint.” Gaia Herbs, 4 Dec. 2017, www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/spearmint.“Spearmint Benefits & Information.” Herbwisdom, www.herbwisdom.com/herb-spearmint.html. Accessed 18 May 2023.