Spearmint Essential Oil
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a species of mint that is originally native to Europe, and named after the pointed shape of its leaves.
Compared to its counterpart peppermint, spearmint has a much lower menthol content, giving spearmint a milder, sweeter flavor and scent—great for food, beverages, and candy. Spearmint is also used in personal hygiene products like toothpaste, soap and shampoo.
Spearmint essential oil is made by steaming the spearmint plant and distilling the extracted oil, a process known as steam distillation. This oil has a pleasant minty scent, similar to, but less harsh than, peppermint essential oil.
Spearmint essential oil has traditionally been used for aromatherapy, creating homemade massage oils and oral hygiene products. In recent years, researchers have noted its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, indicating its therapeutic benefits.
Spearmint Essential Oil Uses
Whether it’s personalizing a massage oil, enhancing a hot bath, or creating natural hygiene products, spearmint essential oil can easily be incorporated into self-care and beauty routines. Below are the most common ways to use spearmint essential oil.
Create your own relaxing massage oil by diluting five drops of spearmint essential oil into 10 Tsp. of coconut, jojoba or almond oil. Spearmint has a pleasant aroma that adds a natural cooling sensation to any massage.
Due to its antimicrobial properties, spearmint essential oil may be used as a natural method to prevent or help clear up skin infections caused by bacteria or fungi.3
Combine 1 -3 drops of spearmint essential oil to a carrier oil or unscented lotion and apply to the skin.
Spearmint essential oil is can be used to create a natural, homemade toothpaste. Simply mix 3 Tbsp. of baking soda, 3 Tbsp. of coconut oil, and 5 to 10 drops of spearmint essential oil.
Spearmint essential oil has also been noted as a key ingredient for natural mouthwash. For a refreshing rinse, add four drops of spearmint essential oil to a half a cup of water. To create different flavors, add a few drops of cinnamon essential oil or wild orange essential oil.
If you’re using essential oil in your toothpaste or mouthwash, remember not to swallow. Essential oils should never be ingested unless under the direct supervision of a health care professional.
Spearmint essential oil has been reported to improve mood, relieve stress, increase mental focus and revitalize the mind. To use spearmint oil for aromatherapy, add 1-5 to a diffuser and let the aroma fill the room. To reap the benefits of aromatherapy without a diffuser, simply add several drops of spearmint essential oil to a bowl of hot water and breathe in the steam.
Spearmint essential oil can make a hot bath even more relaxing. Add 1-5 drops of spearmint essential oil to running bath water before getting in. Alternatively, create a lovely blend to add to a bath by mixing spearmint essential oil with vanilla, lavender, carrot seed, or wintergreen essential oil.
Natural Insect Repellent
Spearmint essential oil has been shown to help naturally repel flies, and may be used as a homemade insect repellent. Mix 8 ounces of water with 10-20 drops of spearmint oil. Pour the repellent into a spray bottle and spray it on your skin like you would a commercial bug spray.1
To make your homemade repellent also effective against mosquitos, add clove essential oil.2
Benefits of Spearmint Essential Oil
Preliminary evidence has observed that spearmint essential oil can inhibit the growth of microbes, help relieve nausea, and may defend cells against potential harmful free radicals.
Spearmint essential oil inhibits the growth of at least five types of pathogenic fungi and four strains of pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, which causes skin infections.3 This means that applying diluted spearmint oil to your skin may ward off or clear up skin infections caused by bacteria or fungi.
An antioxidant is a compound that stops free radicals from doing damage to the body. In a 2006 clinical study, researchers noted that one of the main components of spearmint essential oil, S-Carvone, is a powerful antioxidant.4
The data from laboratory test noted that S-carvone demonstrated higher antioxidant levels than α‐tocopherol (a form of vitamin E). This means that spearmint essential oil may help to prevent free radical damage. Further research is required to confirm these findings and establish how if these benefits could translate to inhalation or topical applications.
A 2013 study investigated spearmint essential oil as a therapeutic tool for nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Patients who took two drops of spearmint essential oil in a specially designed capsule reported less severe nausea, and vomited fewer times, on average, than patients who took a placebo capsule.5
While this data is promising, further research is still required to establish the efficacy and safety of using spearmint essential oil to reduce symptoms of nausea. Spearmint essential oils should not be used to replace conventional cancer treatments or anti-nausea medications.
It is not recommended to consume spearmint essential oil orally, unless under the direct supervision of a health care professional.
Respiratory Health Properties
A study done on animal subjects with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) found that spearmint essential oil significantly reduced inflammation in the lungs and decreased the amount of destruction in the lungs’ air sacs.6 Spearmint essential oil’s effect on respiratory health in humans has not been studied, but this experiment lends support to the hypothesis that spearmint essential oil could improve lung health.
Side Effects of Spearmint Essential Oil
Spearmint essential oil is generally considered safe and is well-tolerated by most people. When applied topically, spearmint essential oil should always be diluted in a carrier like coconut oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil.
It is not recommended to ingest essential oils unless under the direct supervision of a health professional. Always be sure to read and follow the product label prior to use.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid using spearmint essential oil, as its effects on the fetus and newborns remain unknown. Essential oils should not be used on children under two years old.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Dhaliwal, G.S., Koul, O., & Walia, S. (2008). Essential Oils as Green Pesticides: Potential and Constraints. Indian Agriculture Research Institute, 4(1). Retrieved from http://projects.nri.org/adappt/docs/63-84.pdf.
- Trongtokit, Y., Rongsriyam, Y., Komalamisra, N. & Apiwathnasorn, C. (2005), Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Phytotherapy Research, 19: 303–309. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.1637/full.
- Anwar, F., Ashraf, M., Hussain, A., Przybylski, R., & Shahid, M. (2011). Chemical Composition, and Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities of Essential Oil of Spearmint (Mentha spicita).Journal of Essential Oil Research, 22: 78-84. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10412905.2010.9700269.
- Aboul‐Enein, H., Dermirtas I., Elmastaş, M., & Isildak, O. Antioxidant Activity of S‐Carvone Isolated from Spearmint (Mentha spicita). (2007). Journal of Liquid Chromatography & Related Technologies, 29: 1465-1475. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10826070600674893
- Tayarani-Najaran, Z., Talasaz-Firoozi, E., Nasiri, R., Jalali, N., & Hassanzadeh, M. (2013). Antiemetic activity of volatile oil from Mentha spicata and Mentha × piperita in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Ecancermedicalscience, 7, 290. http://doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2013.290
- Zhao, C.Z., Wang, Y., Tang, F.D., Zhao, X.J, Xu, Q.P., Xia, J.F., & Zhu, Y.F. (2008). Effect of Spearmint oil on inflammation, oxidative alteration and Nrf2 expression in lung tissue of COPD rats. Journal of Zhejiang University Medical Science, 37(4):357-363. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/18705008.