BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Ah, the refreshing, lively scent of spearmint – it’s good for mind and body. Whether you steep it for tea, add it to a salad or a stir-fry entrée, or diffuse it in a relaxing essential oil blend, spearmint (Mentha spicata) has some surprising health benefits. It has been used to alleviate symptoms of nausea, indigestion, headache, and sore throat. It has also been used in topical creams to reduce swelling caused by muscle injury. Many of these health effects are believed to be related to plant chemicals that promote muscle relaxation, including those in the digestive tract.
Spearmint has a pleasant aroma and flavor, and is much sweeter than its cousin, peppermint, because it contains less menthol. As the name implies, spearmint leaves are shaped like spears. A very sustainable plant, you can grow it indoors or outdoors in most climate zones. This makes spearmint easy to add to your daily menu or lifestyle, year-round.
Some of the many ways to use spearmint include chopping the leaves to sprinkle on to salad, yogurt, smoothies, or as a garnish. You can blend it into ice cream, smoothies, or to make a minty dip such as lemon-mint-bean dip. The most common use is to steep it for tea, best enjoyed after dinner to facilitate digestion and to simply relax.
Wishing You Well,