Spearmint Leaves Benefit Chapped Skin

When someone mentions spearmint, most people probably think of Wrigley’s gum. It was first made in 1893. Real spearmint oil is used in its favoring. In fact, almost half of the spearmint oil produced in the US each year is used to flavor gum. Most of the rest is used to flavor toothpastes. The answer is 13,000. The question is, how many sticks of chewing gum can be made from one pound of mint oil?

Officially it is Salvia sclarea, but other common names are spearmint, mint, brown mint, garden mint, Our Lady’s mint, sage of Bethlehem, menthol mint, silver mint, spiremint. There are many different kinds of mint, including catnip, peppermint, apple mint,  orange mint, lavender mint. and Scotch spearmint. We are told the US produces 70% of the world’s mint supply, and Washington and Oregon are the leading producers.

Though spearmint is not as popular as peppermint, it does have its own unique flavor. Spearmint plant has a creeping root and unequally serrated and smooth leaves. It is a herbaceous plant with branching, quadrangular, smooth stems, that grow to 2 ft. high. The leaves are the only part of the plant used.

Spearmint is native to the Mediterranean region. Its history goes back thousands of years. In 1568, herbalist John Gerard Writing wrote of ‘spere mynte’, it “rejoiceth the heart…” The Bible mentions mint twice, in Matt. 23:23 and Luke 11:42. Both spoke of religious people tithing the tiniest of leaves. In the Middle Ages spearmint is mentioned as a strewing herb. It was scattered on the floor to get rid of rodents, to give health to those in the house, and to add a beautiful scent. Spearmint made its way to America during the Colonial period. Because mint was not taxed by the English government, it soon became a popular tea substitute during the American Revolution. After the war, spearmint became a significant cash crop in Connecticut. During the American Civil War when imported black tea was hard to get, spearmint’s popularity flourished. It was used to help purify drinking water and as a cleansing tonic. They used spearmint to treat dog bites and wasps and bee stings by mixing salt and mint and applying it directly to the wound.

Spearmint contains volatile oil, the flavonoid thymonin, caffeic acid, rosmaric acid, carvone, and limonene. It also contains aromatic compounds that increase the production of digestive fluids and enzymes, relieve smooth muscle spasms, increase blood circulation, promote sweating, relieve pain and are antiseptic. Spearmint contains astringent compounds that shrink inflamed tissues. It has been used to treat indigestion, morning sickness, nausea, menstrual cramps, flatulence, muscle aches, flu, and vomiting. Ice cubes of mint tea are useful to promote healing and to soothe the pain of canker sores.

Externally the application of a strong decoction of spearmint will heal chapped skin. Spearmint can be inhaled to relieve tension headache and to revive memory. Sugary juices can be diluted with herbal teas such as mint.

Some women face a condition called hirsutism. This is excessive hair growth in areas where hair normally does not grow. Spearmint reduces the level of free testosterone in the blood through its anti-androgenic properties. At the same time it leaves total testosterone and DHEA unaffected. Women with hirsutism should drink a cup of spearmint tea in the morning and evening for the five days of the follicular period (the five days leading up to ovulation) of each menstrual cycle.

What is the recommended dosage of spearmint? For a decoction: mix 2 tbsp. dried leaf in one cup water. Steep 10 min. Do not boil. Strain.  For an infusion: mix 2 tsp dried leaf in one cup water. Steep for 10 min. Do not boil. Strain. For a bath decoction: mix 3 tbsp. dried leaf in one cup water and follow the above directions. There are no known side effects to spearmint. It is safe and useful for children.  Use it for relief in colic and congestion for the gentle menthol content is warming and relaxing to the esophagus. Spearmint has a mild  anesthetic effect to the mucous membranes of the stomach and can thus ease motion sickness and help restore the appetite.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, June 20th at 9:22 am and is filed under Herbs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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