Spotlight on Spearmint – Benefits and How To Use It

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It is the end of the season here in Ohio, the last chance to get everything harvested and safely into the larder. On our farm this means bringing in the last of the peppers and tomatoes, digging the potatoes and harvesting the final batches of herbs.

We’ve had a really nice fall – it hasn’t been too dry or too wet. This has meant spectacular fall color and it has also meant a regrowth of some of the typical spring weeds. Just this week I found a new patch of cleavers and a beautiful bunch of nettles! With the last beautiful day I brought in all the peppermint, spearmint, calendula, borage, comfrey and sage I could find. Peppermint and spearmint can take a bit of the cold, but none of these herbs will survive a hard frost.

What do you know about spearmint?

I mean, what do you really know? I was surprised a few years back to discover that it’s more than just the flavor of gum my grandmother kept in her purse during church. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is often ignored in favor of its warmer cousin, peppermint (Mentha piperita). It is still a good strong mint with plenty of good qualities of its own:

  1. In aromatherapy it is known to relieve tension and lift our mood
  2. Historically, it was so valuable that it was mentioned in the Bible as one of the original ways to pay your tithes!
  3. It’s traditionally used for mouth cleaning and teeth whitening.
  4. It can be helpful for digestive issues and to calm the stomach.
  5. Spearmint can be a mild stimulant.
  6. It may be helpful to bring on a sweat and break a fever (making it a Febrifuge).
  7. Most exciting and maybe surprising, it has shown some amazing results in clinical studies that were done on its volatile oils. In 2007, a University in Turkey found that it is effective in reducing the amount of free roaming testosterone in the blood of women. This is especially important in the case of hirsutism, or the mild, abnormal growth of hair in what is considered to be inappropriate places. The dosage that caused the change was 2 cups a day (morning and evening) for the five days prior to ovulation.

Harvesting Spearmint

If you are late in harvesting your spearmint like myself, it’s okay, you can still get it in. It is usually best to harvest this plant in the summer, but on a warm day in the fall it will still fill with volatile oils.

The big thing to watch at this time of year are the insect hitchhikers. Right now, there are all kinds of bugs that have spun their webs on the undersides of leaves or rolled them up into protective shelters. Late harvest, especially of mints, requires a bit more care discarding of the leaves that house critters. I speak from experience when I say, it is very upsetting to do all that work drying your herbs only to find that something has hatched out in the jar and eaten the fruits of your labors!

Once you have harvested your spearmint, learn how to dry it here.

Don’t have spearmint growing in your yard? Purchase organic dried spearmint leaf here, or 100% pure spearmint essential oil here.

How do you use spearmint?

Share with us in the comments section below!


About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker, and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist, and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm. Her books include Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local.

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  1. Lucy says

    Snails ate my entire Spearmint plant, but left the peppermint plant (growing in the same pot) untouched. Is Peppermint poisonous to snails or is spearmint just tastier I wonder?

    • Dawn says

      That’s a really good observation! It might be the higher menthol concentration. Worth a try to make a peppermint tea spray next year for the garden where there is a problem with slugs! =)

  2. Marjorie says

    I have a question regarding drinking the tea before ovulation, how would that work for someone who has had all feminine parts removed? My mustache seems more apparent, while armpit hair is almost non-existent. I’d really appreciate any help on the matter. Thank you in advance.

    • Dawn says

      Hi Marjorie,
      I would just pick a point in the month and make yourself a “cycle”. Perhaps call the full moon in the month your ovulation.

  3. Jeri says

    As a mechanic in the Navy, we often used spearmint to loosen really stuck nuts and screws. Worked great!

  4. Lisa G says

    I just recently bought myself spearmint essential oil, to help with mood enhancer as well as to use in homemade toothpaste. I also put some in my “muscle relief” blend to use for my husband’s feet to help with pain and strain.

  5. Chris says

    I don’t have a comment, but a question: When you say 2 cups of spearmint morning and evening before ovulation, is that 2 cups of tea? And how do you make it?

    • Dawn says

      That dosage was I cup of tea in the morning and one in the evening. It’s made by infusion. 2-3 tsp per cup, pour boiling water over it, cover and steep for 10-15 minutes.