Spearmint is an herbaceous, perennial rhizome in the Lamiaceae family native to Europe and Southwestern Asia but cultivated worldwide. It has square stems and textured lanceolate leaves with unevenly serrate margins. It blooms during the summer in leafless, interrupted spikes of pale purple flowers. It grows well in any temperate climate in wet, loamy soils and tends to become invasive in the garden due to it’s creeping rhizomes, making it a good candidate for container gardening. It prefers part shade, but can tolerate full sun as well. It does best when cut back regularly, and hybridizes easily with other mints, making interesting mint varieties for culinary use.
Spearmint is a rejuvenative and stimulating herb with carminative, antispasmodic, and stomachic properties, easing indigestion and flatulence. It’s often added to laxatives to ease stomach cramping and disguise the flavor. Its also shows to act on the smooth muscle lining of the uterus, aiding with menstrual cramps as well. It has a mild diuretic action, which is helpful for urinary tract infections. It’s active chemical ingredient is carvone, which is similar but slightly milder than menthol. Externally, it’s essential oil has shown to have some antifungal and anaesthetic actions, and when used externally for massage, can be rejuvenating and calming, help with sore muscles, and aid insomniacs. It can also help with nausea and clearing the sinuses. It can be combined with horehound for reducing fevers in children.
Spearmint is widely used across the globe, and is a popular ingredient in candies, desserts, jellies, and gums, alcoholic drinks such as the Mint Julep and the Mojito, and non alcoholic drinks such as mint tea, popular in Northern Africa and the Middle East. It’s been cultivated and traded since ancient Egyptian and Greek times, where is often mentioned in mythology.
Typically about 1 tsp of herb per cup of water, infused to taste, drunk liberally throughout the day, or as a tincture 2-4 ml three times daily. Because it is a mild herb, no contraindications are noted.
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