Mentha spicata belonging to the Labiatae family is a hardy perennial herb with bright green, lance-shaped leaves and quickly spreading underground runners. It has pink or lilac-colored flowers. The plant is native to the Mediterranean but now grows worldwide. Most of the oil comes from North America, Spain, Italy, Eastern Europe and China. The fresh or partly dried flowering tops of the plant are steam distilled and produce a mild-green to yellow unrefined oil and a colorless rectified oil The yield is around 0.7% and contains around: 55% ketones (carvone 50-70%, dihydrocarvone, menthone); 22% alcohols (linalool, menthol); 12% monoterpenes (limonene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, phellandrene, camphene); esters; sesquiterpenes and oxides. It has a sweet and minty aroma and blends well with aniseed, basil, cedarwood, cajeput, eucalyptus, lavender, lavandin, lemon, lime, grapefruit, peppermint and rosemary.
Spearmint essential oil is used extensively in flavoring chewing gum, candies and chocolates as well as in most other food products. Spearmint leaves and extracts are also used in alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, while spearmint leaves are used in baked goods and puddings as well as in meat and meat products. Like peppermint, spearmint oil is used as a primary or adjunct flavoring for herb teas, capsules, tablets, tinctures and in formulations for digestion, colds and fevers. InTraditional Medicine, like peppermint, it has been used as an aromatic, stomachic, stimulant, antiseptic, local anesthetic and antispasmodic in treating indigestion, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea, colds, headaches, toothaches and cramps.
Psychologically, its calming properties can be helpful for stress, tension, reducing mental fatigue and depression. On a physiological level, spearmint’s antiseptic and strongly anti-inflammatory properties are useful for acne, dermatitis and healing of wounds. Its anesthetic and strongly anti-inflammatory properties are helpful for headaches, fatigue, migraines, neuralgia or shingles. On a subtle level, Spearmint helps establish integrity. It also aids one to take responsibility for one’s actions and decisions and be true to one’s feelings.
Avoid in pregnancy and with young children. Generally considered to be non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing.
Leung and Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, John Wiley & Sons, 1996
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001,2002, 2003, 2004
Mrs. M. Grieves, A Modern Herbal www.botanical.com