Historical vs Modern Uses of Spearmint
Native to the Mediterranean, spearmint has a long and rich history. The plant spread geographically with the advancement of the Roman Empire, and spearmint is now found everywhere humans have ventured and settled. Classically used as a flavoring for teas, candies, and liquor as well as in perfumes, cleaning agents, and soaps, spearmint has invaded almost every aspect of human use, and consumption imaginable (Grieve, 2018). It has been used medicinally for mouth and gut complaints, nervous conditions and because of its gentle nature, often given to babies to relieve colic, nausea, or indigestion (Spearmint 2018).
Spearmint's therapeutic actions include antibacterial, antimutagenic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, and nervine properties ("Spearmint," 2018). The chief constituent of spearmint is Carvone, a terpenoid produced by plants to attract helpful insects ("Carvone," 2018). Interestingly it is also what repels rodents, particularly mice, and will keep a house pest-free when planted around the foundation.
Spearmint has been found to be antimicrobial, antifungal, and an effective mosquito repellent. When tested with a disc-diffusion method to examine the bacteriostatic potential of spearmint it was found to have anti-microbial effects on all eleven of the bacteria tested and showed an equivalent antibacterial potential as the control antibiotic, streptomycin (Soković, Glamočlija, Marin, Brkić & Griensven, 2010).
Spearmint is a versatile herb with a historical safety record across the human lifespan. From aromatherapy to food storage to culinary and medicinal uses, it is easy to understand why spearmint is a necessary staple in any herbal medicine kit.
Spearmint - Mentha spicata (syn. M. viridis, M. cordifolia, M. crispa)
Common names: Curled mint, fish mint, garden mint, green mint Hierbabuena, Menta Verde, Menthe Douce ("Natural Medicines - Spearmint", 2018)
TEXTURE: Fresh leaves are soft, crushing easily to release the aroma.
COLOR: Fresh dark green; ACHS sample dark green
AROMA: strong and sweet
FLAVOR: ACHS sample dry - a strong taste of menthol followed closely by distinctive spearmint scent.
Carvone, rosmarinic acid, limonene, pinene, linalool and related compounds.
Has been bred to contain undetectable levels of carvone and higher levelness of myrcene, Borneo, mintlactone, and gamma-element.
This recipe originally came from a blog using slippery elm and ground ginger (Dessinger, 2016)
Spearmint and Echinacea sore throat melts
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1.5 teaspoons raw honey (avoid unpasteurized honey in children <1)
1 teaspoon dried spearmint ground fine
1 teaspoon ground echinacea
1 teaspoon ground marshmallow root (optional)
Small cube ice tray
Grind all herbs very fine using a coffee grinder
Mix room temperature coconut oil with honey then fold in herbs mixing thoroughly
Portion into silicon ice cube tray - the one with the really small cube size works well. Once frozen pop them out into a mason jar and store in the fridge or freezer
Suck on the melts throughout the day - the coconut oil coats sore throats, the spearmint tastes nice, and the echinacea is for the viral illness that usually causes sore throats. If sore throat symptoms do not resolve after 2-3 days seek traditional medical attention. I really liked this recipe, my husband Darren did not but he’s got a phobia about coconut oil and refused to even try it. My kids were okay with them but not thrilled with how it made their mouths feel. I did not think I’d used so much echinacea that it would bother them but it did a little.
According to Expanded Commission E monograph:
Has few significant adverse effects when taken orally
Echinacea purpurea root contains 0.6-2.1 caffeic acid derivatives mainly cichoric acid and caftaric acid plus caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid
Supported use with shown efficacy for nonspecific irrigation therapy, prophylaxis, and therapy for infections and diseases including influenza
Unless otherwise prescribed: 0.9 g cut root several times a day for teas and other galenical preparations are safe for internal use. - Does not list contraindications for pregnancy, lactation, or pediatrics (GRAS).
Natural Medicines - Spearmint. (2018). Retrieved from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=845
Dessinger, H. (2016). Homemade Cough Drops. Retrieved from https://www.mommypotamus.com/sore-throat-meltaways/
Grieve, M. (2018). A Modern Herbal | Mints. Retrieved from https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html
Spearmint. (2018). Retrieved from https://achs.instructure.com/courses/1011/pages/module-11-etextbook-reading
Carvone. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.herbs2000.com/h_menu/carvone.htm
Soković, M., Glamočlija, J., Marin, P., Brkić, D., & Griensven, L. (2010). Antibacterial Effects of the Essential Oils of Commonly Consumed Medicinal Herbs Using an In Vitro Model. Molecules, 15(11), 7532-7546. doi: 10.3390/molecules15117532
American Botanical Council: Echinacea purpurea. (2018). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbstream/achs/HerbalMedicine/index.html#param.wapp?sw_page=@@@@@@@expEView%3Fufgp%3DEchinaceaPurpurearoot.htlm