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2020 August/September
Pg 6 - The Sunshine Express
Health & Nurturing
the family, having four rather than five united petals.
The volatile oils are contained in resinous dots in the
leaves and stems.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) grows to about 90 cm
(3 feet) high, with open spikes of pink or lilac flow-
ers and stalkless leaves; it has the characteristic mint
Peppermint (M. กม piperita), a hybrid between
spearmint and water mint, has a heavy scent, stalked
leaves, and reddish lilac flowers in dense spikes.
Water mint (M. aquatica) commonly grows in
ditches and has rounded flower spikes and stalked
hairy leaves.
Wild mint (M. arvensis), native in North America and
Eurasia, reaches about 1 metre (about 3.3 feet) high.
Pennyroyal, M. pulegium, has small oval obtuse
leaves and flowers in axillary whorls; it is remark-
able for its creeping habit and pungent odour. It has
been used in folk medicine to induce perspiration and
Other members of the family Lamiaceae are also
known as mints: the bergamots, or bee balms (genus
Monarda), are sometimes called horsemint; mem-
bers of the genus Pycnanthemum are called
mountain mints; catnip (Nepeta cataria) is also
known as catmint; dittany (Cunila origanoides) is
called stonemint; and plants of the Australian genus
Prostanthera are called mint bushes.
Spearmint, (Mentha spicata), aromatic herb of the
mint family (Lamiaceae), is widely used for culinary
The compound (-)-carvone, which is natu-
rally found in spearmint, has been shown to
strongly inhibit muscle contractions in the
digestive tract, which may explain how this
herb helps relieve digestive upsets (PubMed
This herb may also relieve nausea and vomit-
ing caused by chemotherapy. In one study,
spearmint essential oil applied to the skin
significantly reduced the incidence of nausea
and vomiting compared to a placebo (PubMed
Therefore, while studies on the effects of this
type of mint on digestion are limited, some
evidence suggests that it may be helpful.
2. High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural chemical compounds
found in plants that help protect against and
repair damage caused by free radicals, which
are harmful molecules that can lead to oxida-
tive stress.
Oxidative stress has been linked to several
chronic conditions, including heart disease,
cancer and diabetes (PubMed Central).
Spearmint contains a large number of antiox-
idant compounds, including rosmarinic acid,
flavones and flavanones like limonene and
menthol (PubMed Central).
Two tablespoons (11 grams) of spearmint
also provides 2% of the Reference Daily
Mint (genus Mentha), genus of 25 species of
fragrant herbs of the mint family (Lamiaceae)
Native to Eurasia, North America, southern
Africa and Australia, mints are widely distributed
throughout the temperate areas of the world and
have naturalized in many places.
A number of species, particularly peppermint
and spearmint, are used as flavourings for foods
(including candy and gum) and for liqueur and
dentifrices. The essential oils of mints are used
as scents in perfumery. Some species are com-
monly used
in herbal
Mints have
square stems
and opposite
leaves. Many
can spread
by stolons
and can be
aggressive in
gardens. The small flowers are usually pale
purple, pink, or white in colour and are arranged
in clusters, either forming whorls or crowded
together in a terminal spike.
The flowers are not typical of other members of
purposes. Spearmint is native to Europe
and Asia and has been naturalized in
North America and parts of Africa.
The leaves are used fresh or dried to
flavour many foods, particularly sweets,
beverages, salads, soups, cheeses,
meats, fish, sauces, fruits and vegeta-
The essential oil is used to flavour tooth-
paste, candles, candies, and jellies; its
principal component is carvone.
Spearmint is a perennial plant that ag-
gressively spreads by creeping stolons.
It gets its name from its characteristic
spear-shaped leaves.
The simple fragrant leaves are sharply
serrated and arranged oppositely along
the square stems. Spearmint has lax,
tapering spikes of lilac, pink, or white
One common way to enjoy this herb is
brewed into a tea, which can be made
from either fresh or dried leaves. Yet,
this mint is not only tasty but may also
be good for you.
Here are 11 surprising health benefits of
spearmint tea and essential oil:
1. Good for Digestive Upsets
Spearmint is commonly used to help
relieve symptoms of indigestion, nausea,
vomiting and gas.
All About Mint
Intake (RDI) for vitamin C, another po-
tent antioxidant (,
According to researchers, spearmint
shows excellent antioxidant activity
against free radicals. In one study, ex-
tract from this herb prevented fat oxida-
tion in meat and was as effective as the
synthetic antioxidant BHT (sciencedirect.
3. May Aid Women With Hormone
For women with hormone imbalances,
spearmint tea may provide relief.
Studies in women have shown that it can
decrease male hormones like testoster-
one while increasing female hormones
necessary for ovulation, such as lutein-
izing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating
hormone (FSH) and estradiol.
In one five-day study in 21 women with
hormone imbalances, two cups of spear-
mint tea a day decreased testosterone
and increased LH, FSH and estradiol
levels (PubMed Central).
Similarly, in a 30-day randomized study,
42 women with polycystic ovary syn-
drome (PCOS) who drank spearmint tea
twice a day had lower testosterone lev-
els and higher LH and FSH levels com-
pared to women who drank a placebo
tea (PubMed Central).
Additionally, in a study in rats, spearmint
essential oil was found to decrease tes-
tosterone and ovarian cysts and increase