We’ve all heard of mint before, and most of us have probably used it in one form or another. But what many people don’t know is that there are actually several different types of mint, with each variety offering its own unique benefits. One such type of mint is spearmint, which is prized for its many health benefits.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a perennial herb in the mint family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and Australia. The plant grows to 30–100 cm (12–39 in) tall, with opposite leaves 3–8 cm (1.2–3.1 in) long and 1.5–3 cm (0.59–1.18 in) broad. The flowers are pink or white, and bloom in summer.
Spearmint is used as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages, and for its essential oil. Spearmint can also be used in topicals, such as soaps, shampoos, and lotions. It is thought to have a number of benefits when used in this way.
Spearmint is also used in traditional medicine for a variety of conditions.
Spearmint is thought to have a number of health benefits, including:
Digestive support: Spearmint has been traditionally used to aid digestion and relieve stomach discomfort by increasing stomach acid production and stimulating gut motility.
Anti-inflammatory effect: Spearmint may help reduce inflammation. One potential mechanism by which spearmint may reduce inflammation is by inhibiting the production of inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines. Additionally, spearmint may help reduce inflammation by activating anti-inflammatory pathways.Further research is needed to confirm the anti-inflammatory effects of spearmint and to determine the most effective dosages and methods of administration.
Antimicrobial activity: Spearmint essential oil has been shown to have antimicrobial activity against a variety of bacteria and fungi.
Spearmint has been used traditionally to relieve pain. The analgesic properties of spearmint may be due to the menthol it contains. Menthol is known to activate cold receptors in the skin, which can help block pain signals from traveling to the brain.
Spearmint and Cancer
A 2017 study found that spearmint essential oil was effective in reducing stress and improving mental clarity.The study participants who received spearmint essential oil also had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Spearmint may also have some protective effects against cancer.
Another study found that spearmint essential oil was able to kill ovarian cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Spearmint safety tips
Spearmint is generally considered safe when consumed in small amounts. However, spearmint may interact with certain medications, such as those used to treat diabetes. Spearmint may also cause allergic reactions in some people. If you experience any adverse effects after consuming spearmint, discontinue use and speak with a healthcare provider.Spearmint is a versatile herb with many potential health benefits. You can add it to your diet by using it to flavor food or beverages, or by taking it in supplement form. Speak with a healthcare provider before taking spearmint supplements to ensure they are right for you.
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