Spearmint is one of my favorite herbs, and for those who say it gets out of hand, I say you aren’t using it enough. It is so easy to pull out anyway, and makes a great anti-insect mulch around other plants. Pull, dry in the sun, then crumble and scatter in your garden beds. My Spearmint is in a pot in my south window to help me remember to water it when my outside beds are dry as a bone.
Spearmint is edible and a medicinal. Add a little to your tea and get the advantage of its health benefits at less than medicinal doses.
One of my favorite uses of Spearmint is as a needed antiseptic, body freshener, and relaxer when I come in from working outside. I start with 16 ounces of boiling water with a few leaves of Spearmint floated in it.
Cover with a lid and let it steep until it is a comfortable temperature. This is an old jelly jar with a lid and a handle.
Once cool enough, I saturate a dry washcloth with the “tea” and apply the cleansing antiseptic to my face and body. I have several new small scratches from working outside, and I feel the tiny bite as the bodywash cleans and helps restore the skin. This helps me attend to little scratches that I didn’t realize I had and by covering my whole body I don’t miss anything.
It cleans my skin and the tiniest amount of Spearmint essential oil in the water is a skin refresher without drying like most tonic waters do. At years ago I bathed twice daily just due to southern heat, but it was damaging my skin. About a cup of Spearmint “tea” rubbed on my skin with a clean washcloth leaves my skin silky and clean. I use about one cup. I can drink the other half of the “tea” or save it for an after bath freshener in the morning that ensures that I have advance antibiotic protection for any new mishaps.
Spearmint kills bacteria and fungus, even E. coli, Staph, Candida, and other bad nasties without breeding super germs. If you make it in the evening like I do, a small spray bottle for your pocket or purse is easy to refill.
Spearmint is also an insect repellant and a slightly stronger “tea” carried on fishing trips and spritzed on as needed is nontoxic and also good for healing sunburned skin.
I slather up with various oils and creams on winter mornings, which I make myself from my garden plants. But none heal scratches like this touch of Spearmint. I dislike going to bed at night with greasy skin, so I use various water “teas” at night, and I enjoy using new scents in a pleasant barely-there amount.
New Mexico is so dry that people wrinkle up like crepe paper. When I see that tendency on my skin, out comes the Spearmint “tea.” I do not use this 365 days a year because I do not want to develop any allergic reaction to it. It is my best summer “lotion,” I do not want to lose its benefit through excessive use.
I have been reading new research on perillyl alcohol and its amazing anticancer properties as tested on rats and hamsters. It it is now being tested in human trials. Perillyl alcohol has been proven effective against breast, liver, pancreatic, and colon cancers. Had some trouble finding out just where perillyl alcohol comes from, but its precursor is limonene. Spearmint has a fair amount of limonene, as does citrus fruit, Pinyon Pine oil, mints, cherries, and so on.
One interesting comment in the research was that it reversed existing tumors, but only if taken every day, orally, in food. They were using perillyl alcohol in fairly high amounts on cancer ridden rats; however, eating limonene in its natural form as fruit is more sensible. For those who work outside during summer months, a little limonene (Spearmint) on your largest organ (skin) twice a day surely cannot hurt unless you are allergic.
What came to mind in reading these research papers, written in the obscure language I learned at the University of Texas in my biology and chemistry classes, is the Market Economy brouhaha over laetrile and the intense fruit and vegetable blender diets that swept the country years ago as cancer cures. Of course, fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be grown in your back yard. Perillyl alcohol made in a laboratory and lifetime maintenance on it would sure be expensive, because it wouldn’t replace your need for food. Just sayin.
Take normal precautions when using any herb and more is usually not better. If you have an allergic reaction to any food or herb, stop using it at the first sign of trouble. Seek medical care.
Spearmint has dozens of uses, but I love its beneficial use on my largest organ, my skin. I recommend keeping it in your zone 3-8 garden, or in a pot on a south windowsill like mine. For making essential oils, outside in the sun is better. Buy it in the market economy, or get a start from a gardening friend. Spearmint needs plenty of water just like you.