Spearmint (Mentha Spicata.) is a perennial herb (a herb that grows all year round) & belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is known for its rapid growth and spreading nature, which can make it quite invasive if not managed properly.
A herb that has been widely utilised throughout history, spearmint can be found in fresh or dried herb form and is also found as an essential oil.
Cultivation Of Spearmint:
Spearmint prefers a partially shaded location with well-draining, fertile, moist, and slightly acidic soil.
Propagation of spearmint is normally by division of roots in the autumn or spring. When planting, space at least 6 inches apart as they will spread.
Many gardeners choose to plant spearmint in pots to keep it contained as it is a prolific spreader.
Spearmint requires regular watering, however, do not over-water. To help retain moisture and suppress weeds, a layer of mulch should be applied around the base of your plant.
Spearmint should be regularly pruned to stop it from becoming too invasive. Pinching off the tops of the stems will also encourage your mint plant to fill out and become nice and bushy, rather than scraggly.
Note: spearmint can be invasive, so it's a good idea to plant it in containers or confined areas to prevent it from spreading into unwanted areas of your garden.
Harvesting and Drying Spearmint:
- Harvesting: Harvest spearmint leaves in the morning, after any dew has dried but before the sun is too hot. Choose healthy leaves and avoid stems that have started to flower.
- Gather several spearmint stems together and secure them with a rubber band or string.
- Hang the spearmint bundles upside down in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. A dark room with good airflow is ideal.
- It typically takes about 1-2 weeks for the leaves to dry completely. They should feel crisp and crumble easily when touched.
- Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. Label the container with the date to track freshness.
- You can also use a dehydrator to dry your herbs- check with your manual to see what temperature and time will be needed to dry your spearmint.
Mundane Uses of Spearmint:
Spearmint, known for its mild and slightly sweet flavour, is a versatile herb in the culinary world. It's used in a variety of dishes and beverages to add a refreshing twist. Some popular culinary uses for spearmint include:
- Mint Sauce: Spearmint is often used to make mint sauce, a traditional condiment served with lamb dishes. It's made by finely chopping spearmint leaves and mixing them with sugar, vinegar, and water.
- Mint Jellies and Preserves: Spearmint can be used to make mint jellies and preserves, which are commonly served with meats like lamb and as a flavour enhancer for various dishes.
- Tea: Spearmint leaves make a delightful herbal tea. Simply steep fresh or dried leaves in hot water for a soothing and aromatic beverage.
- Salads: Spearmint leaves can be torn or chopped and added to salads for a fresh and minty flavour. It pairs well with fruits like watermelon and citrus.
- Desserts: Spearmint can be used in desserts like ice cream, sorbet, chocolates, and baked goods. It adds a subtle minty note without being overpowering.
- Cocktails: Spearmint leaves are a popular garnish and flavouring agent for cocktails like mojitos, mint juleps, and iced tea.
- Tzatziki Sauce: Spearmint is a key ingredient in tzatziki, a Greek yogurt sauce often served with gyros and grilled meats.
- Smoothies: Add fresh spearmint leaves to fruit smoothies for a refreshing and aromatic twist.
- Infused Water: Place fresh spearmint leaves in a pitcher of water for a naturally flavoured and hydrating drink.
- Herb Butters: Combine minced spearmint leaves with butter to create an herbed butter that can be used on bread, grilled vegetables, or fish.
- Soups: Spearmint can be used as a garnish for soups, particularly those with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern influence.
- Sauces: Spearmint can be used to flavour various sauces, such as yogurt-based sauces, vinaigrettes, and marinades.
- Fruit Salsas: Spearmint can be added to fruit salsas for a burst of fresh flavour. It pairs well with fruits like pineapple, mango, and strawberries.
- Grilled Meats: Spearmint can be used as a marinade or rub for grilled meats, chicken, and fish.
- Rice and Grain Dishes: Spearmint can be chopped and stirred into rice or grain dishes, adding a hint of minty freshness.
- Homemade Mint Extract: You can make your own mint extract by infusing spearmint leaves in alcohol. This extract can be used in baking and cooking.
Spearmint's gentle and sweet flavour makes it a versatile herb that can enhance a wide range of dishes and beverages. It complements both savory and sweet flavours and is a great choice for those who prefer a milder mint taste compared to peppermint.
Aromatic Uses Of Spearmint:
Spearmint is well-known for its aromatic qualities. It has a brighter, milder scent than peppermint and can be used in a multitude of ways including:
- Aromatherapy: Spearmint essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and increase mental clarity. It can be diffused in an essential oil diffuser to fill a room with its refreshing aroma.
- Herbal Sachets: Dried spearmint leaves can be placed in cloth sachets or small bags and used as natural air fresheners in drawers, closets, and cars.
- Scented Candles: Spearmint-scented candles create a calming and aromatic ambiance in your home. Look for candles infused with spearmint fragrance or use spearmint essential oil to make your own candles.
- Potpourri: Spearmint leaves can be included in homemade potpourri blends to release a fresh and uplifting fragrance in living spaces.
- Bath and Body Products: Spearmint is often used in bath salts, shower gels, and body lotions for its invigorating and aromatic properties. It can provide a refreshing bathing experience.
- Room Sprays: Create DIY room sprays by mixing water with a few drops of spearmint essential oil. Use these sprays to freshen the air in your home or office.
- Scented Crafts: Incorporate dried spearmint leaves into craft projects, such as scented sachets, homemade candles, or scented ornaments.
- Foot Baths: Add spearmint leaves or spearmint essential oil to a foot bath for a relaxing and aromatic foot soak. It can help relieve tired and achy feet.
- Natural Air Fresheners: Place dried spearmint leaves or cotton balls soaked in spearmint essential oil in various areas of your home, such as the bathroom, to naturally freshen the air.
- Scented Oils: Infuse carrier oils like jojoba or almond oil with spearmint leaves to create your own scented massage or body oils.
- Refreshing Linens: Spray a spearmint-scented linen spray on your sheets, pillowcases, and towels to keep them smelling fresh.
- Homemade Cleaning Products: Add a few drops of spearmint essential oil to homemade cleaning solutions to not only clean your home but also leave it smelling minty fresh.
- Stress Reduction: Inhaling the scent of spearmint essential oil through steam inhalation or by using an aroma diffuser can help reduce stress, anxiety, and promote relaxation.
- Cognitive Enhancement: Some individuals find that the aroma of spearmint can help improve mental clarity and concentration, making it useful as a study or work aid.
When using spearmint essential oil, it is recommended that you choose high-quality sources and follow recommended guidelines for safe usage. As a general rule of thumb, never apply the essential oils directly to the skin or take them internally. If you apply the oils diluted to the skin, always do a skin patch test first to check for any allergic reactions.
Medicinal Uses Of Spearmint:
Spearmint has many reported medicinal benefits including:
- Digestive Health: Spearmint is often used to relieve digestive issues such as indigestion, gas, and bloating. Drinking spearmint tea after meals may help soothe the digestive system.
- Nausea and Motion Sickness: Spearmint can help alleviate nausea and motion sickness. Sipping on spearmint tea or inhaling the aroma of spearmint oil may provide relief.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Some individuals with IBS find that spearmint tea or supplements can help ease symptoms like abdominal discomfort and spasms.
- Respiratory Health: Spearmint's menthol content can help open up airways, making it beneficial for respiratory conditions like asthma and congestion. Inhaling the steam from spearmint tea or using spearmint oil in a diffuser may provide relief.
- Headache Relief: Spearmint oil, when applied topically to the temples and forehead, may help alleviate tension headaches and migraines due to its soothing properties.
- Menstrual Pain: Spearmint tea is sometimes used to relieve menstrual cramps and discomfort. It can help relax uterine muscles.
- Stress Reduction: The aroma of spearmint may have a calming effect and help reduce stress and anxiety when used in aromatherapy or inhaled.
- Skin Irritation: Topical application of diluted spearmint oil can provide relief from itching, insect bites, and minor skin irritations. A strong decoction of spearmint is said to cure chapped hands.
- Fever Reducer: Spearmint's cooling effect can help lower body temperature, making it a traditional remedy for reducing fever.
- Cognitive Function: Some studies suggest that the aroma of spearmint may help improve cognitive function, alertness, and focus.
- Dental Health: Spearmint is used in mouthwashes and toothpaste for its antibacterial properties and ability to freshen breath. It may also help with minor toothache relief. It has been used since the 14th century as a teeth whitener.
- Anti-inflammatory: Spearmint may have mild anti-inflammatory properties and can be used topically to soothe inflamed skin or joints.
- Allergy Relief: Inhaling the scent of spearmint or using spearmint oil in a diffuser may provide relief from allergy symptoms such as a runny nose and itchy eyes.
- Hair and Scalp Health: Spearmint oil is sometimes used in hair care products for its potential to promote a healthy scalp and reduce dandruff.
- Weight Management: Some preliminary research suggests that spearmint may help with weight management by reducing appetite and promoting a feeling of fullness.
Caution: It's important to remember that while these potential benefits are supported by some research and traditional use, individual responses can vary. If you have specific health concerns or are taking medications, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. This blog post is not intended to be used as a medical reference guide, and the author is not a qualified medical practitioner.
The Magickal Properties Of Spearmint:
Name: Spearmint (Mentha Spicata)
Folk Names: Brown Mint, Garden Mint, Green Mint, Green Spine, Lamb Mint, Mackeral Mint, Mismin (Irish Gaelic), Our Lady’s Mint, Spire Mint, Yerba Buena (Spanish)
Parts Used: Fresh leaves & essential oil
Planet: Venus, Mercury
Element: Water, Air
Powers: Healing, Love, Mental Powers, Protection During Sleep.
- Spearmint is said to be useful in all healing applications especially in aiding lung disease. Utilising visualisation whilst inhaling the scent of spearmint is said to speed healing and recovery of the body.
- Spearmint can also be added to healing incenses and to packed inside green poppets to promote healing.
- Spearmint can be in love and romance spells to provoke lust. Spearmint is a good addition to love potions and sachets.
- Smelling spearmint sharpens mental powers, promoting increased awareness and clarity.
- A dream pillow packed with spearmint placed beneath your pillow is said to provide protection whilst asleep. If you do not have a dream pillow, place a vase of freshly cut spearmint near your bed. On retiring, visualise that you are protected from all harm and let spearmint work its magick!
The Magickal benefits of these herbs are not set in stone. These magickal benefits are from a Eurocentric viewpoint, as is my personal background and what I am familiar with.
nefits of these herbs are not set in stone. These magickal benefits are from a Eurocentric viewpoint, as is my personal background and what I am familiar with.
As always, it is important prior to working with any ingredient that you do your own research. Consult sources from your own ancestral background and draw inspiration from your own intuition. What is right for me in my situation, may be completely wrong for you. If you stick to the general guidelines and look for ways to incorporate spearmint into your everyday mundane life, you will start to see the magick that this plant can offer!
Let us know what you think about this fantastic plant. Do you grow it? If so, what has been your experience with it? Do you use it for mundane purposes, magickal purposes, or both? We'd love to hear your experiences.
The information contained within this article has been sourced from a number of sources including:
Cunningham, S. (2022). Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs- Expanded & Revised Edition (2nd ed., p. 233-234). Llewellyn Publications.
Cunningham, S. (2021). Magical Herbalism- The Secret Craft of The Wise (3rd ed., p. 200). Llewellyn Publications.
Cunningham, S. (1989). Magical Aromatherapy- The Power of Scent (p. 137-138). Llewellyn Publications.
Grieve, M. (1978). A Modern Herbal (pp. 624-626). Penguin Books.