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Spearmint

What is it?

Spearmint is an herb. The leaves and oil are used to make medicine.

Spearmint is used for digestive disorders including gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, upper gastrointestinal tract spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bile duct and gallbladder swelling (inflammation), and gallstones.

It is also used for sore throat, colds, headaches, toothaches, cramps, cancer and inflammation of respiratory tract. Some people use it as a stimulant, germ-killer, local pain-killer, and anti-spasm medication.

Spearmint is applied directly to the skin for swelling inside the mouth, arthritis, local muscle and nerve pain, and skin conditions including pruritus and urticaria.

In foods and beverages, spearmint is used as a flavoring agent.

In manufacturing, spearmint is used in health food products, cosmetics, and oral hygiene products such as mouthwash and toothpaste.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for SPEARMINT are as follows:

Possibly ineffective for...

  • Memory. Chewing spearmint-flavored gum does not appear to improve memory in healthy adults.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Male-pattern hair growth in women (hirsutism). Early research suggests that drinking spearmint tea twice daily for up to one month can decrease levels of male sex hormone (testosterone) and increase levels of female sex hormone (estradiol) and other hormones in women with male-pattern hair growth. Also, early research suggests that drinking spearmint tea might reduce the severity of male-pattern hair growth based on patient evaluation in women with male-pattern hair growth due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. However, it does not seem to reduce the amount or location of male-pattern hair growth based on clinical evaluation.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Early research suggests that using 30 drops of a product containing lemon balm, spearmint, and coriander (Carmint) after meals for 8 weeks reduces stomach pain in people with IBS when taken along with the drug loperamide or psyllium.
  • Gas (flatulence).
  • Indigestion.
  • Nausea.
  • Sore throat.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Colds.
  • Headaches.
  • Toothaches.
  • Cramps.
  • Cancer.
  • Arthritis.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Skin conditions.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of spearmint for these uses.

How does it work?

The oil in spearmint is thought to calm the stomach.

Are there safety concerns?

Spearmint and spearmint oil are LIKELY SAFE when eaten in amount commonly found in food. Spearmint is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts or when applied to the skin.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Spearmint is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used in excessive amounts during pregnancy. Excessive use of spearmint tea might cause damage to the uterus. Avoid using in large amounts of spearmint during pregnancy.

There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking spearmint if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using in amounts greater than those found in food.

Kidney disorders: Spearmint tea might increase kidney damage. Higher amounts of spearmint tea seem to have greater effects. In theory, using large amounts of spearmint tea might make kidney disorders worse.

Liver disease: Spearmint tea might increase liver damage. Higher amounts of spearmint tea seem to have greater effects. In theory, using large amounts of spearmint tea might make worsen liver disease.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs)
Spearmint might harm the liver when used in large amounts. Some medications can harm the liver as well. Using large amounts of spearmint along with these medications might increase the risk of liver damage. Don't use large amounts of spearmint if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.

Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin) , lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.
Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Spearmint contains a chemical that might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedative medications. Taking spearmint and sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that cause sleepiness and drowsiness
Spearmint contains a chemical that might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking spearmint and using natural products that also cause sleepiness might cause too much sleepiness and drowsiness. Some of these include 5-HTP, calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John's wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.
Herbs and supplements that might damage the liver
Spearment might harm the liver. Using it along with other natural products that may also harm the liver may increase the chance of liver damage. Some of these products include androstenedione, chaparral, comfrey, DHEA, germander, niacin, pennyroyal oil, red yeast, and others.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of spearmint depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for spearmint. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

Curled Mint, Fish Mint, Garden Mint, Green Mint, Hierbabuena, Huile Essentielle de Menthe Verte, Lamb Mint, Mackerel Mint, Menta Verde, Mentha cordifolia, Mentha crispa, Mentha spicata, Mentha viridis, Menthe Verte, Menthe Crépue, Menthe Douce, Menthe à Épis, Menthe Frisée, Menthe des Jardins, Menthe Romaine, Our Lady's Mint, Pahari Pudina, Putiha, Sage of Bethlehem, Spearmint Essential Oil, Spire Mint, Yerba Buena, Yerbabuena.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

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Last reviewed - 12/30/2015