Spearmint (Mentha viridis)

Botanical Name :Mentha viridis
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe:     Mentheae
Genus:     Mentha
Species: M. spicata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Lamiales

Synonyms :Mentha spicata, Garden Mint. Mentha Spicata. Mackerel Mint. Our Lady’s Mint. Green Mint. Spire Mint. Sage of Bethlehem. Fish Mint. Menthe de Notre Dame. Erba Santa Maria. Frauen Munze. Lamb Mint.

Common Names : Spearmint or spear mint , Mentha  crispa

Habitat : Spearmint  is native to Eaurope and Iceland, but has become naturalized in other parts of the world. It is naturalized throughout the United States and Canada.It is an invasive species in the Great Lakes region of North America, where it was first sighted in 1843.

Description:
Spearmint is a herbaceous, rhizomatous, perennial plant growing 30–100 cm tall, with variably hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome. The leaves are 5–9 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The stem is square-shaped, a trademark of the mint family of herbs. Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower pink or white, 2.5–3 mm long, and broad.
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Hybrids involving spearmint include Mentha × piperita (peppermint; hybrid with Mentha aquatica), Mentha × gracilis (ginger mint, syn. M. cardiaca; hybrid with Mentha arvensis), and Mentha × villosa (large apple mint, hybrid with Mentha suaveolens).

The name ‘spear’ mint derives from the pointed leaf tips.

Cultivation:
Spearmint grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive, spreading rhizomes. The plant prefers partial shade, but can flourish in full sun to mostly shade. Spearmint is best suited to loamy soils with abundant organic material.

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Edible Uses:
Spearmint leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. They can also be preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, or oil. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers. It can be dried by cutting just before, or right (at peak) as the flowers open, about one-half to three-quarters the way down the stalk (leaving smaller shoots room to grow). Some dispute exists as to what drying method works best; some prefer different materials (such as plastic or cloth) and different lighting conditions (such as darkness or sunlight).

Medicinal Uses:
Constituents: The chief constituent of Spearmint oil is Carvone. There are also present Phellandrine, Limonene and dihydrocarveol acetate. Esters of acetic, butyric and caproic or caprylic acids are also present. (An Ester is a combination of an alcohol with an acid, the combination being associated with the elimination of water. The esters are highly important and in many cases dominant constituents of numerous essential oils, which owe their perfume largely, or in some cases entirely, to the esters contained. Many of the esters are used as flavouring or perfumery agents, and many are among the most important constituents of volatile salts.)

There are several different essential oils known under the name of Spearmint oil, the botanical origin of the plant used for distillation differing with the country in which the plant is grown. In the United States and in this country several varieties of M. viridis are distilled. In Russia the plant distilled is M. verticellata, and in Germany either M. longifolia, or more generally M. aquatica var. crispa – a plant cultivated in Northern Germany, the oil (called there Krausemünzöl) being imported into this country as German Spearmint oil. It appears to be identical with that from M. viridis. Oil of Spearmint is little distilled in England, either German oil or American oil distilled from M. viridis being imported.

The carminative, antispasmodic, and stimulant properties of spearmint are somewhat inferior to those of peppermint; its principal employment is for its diuretic and febrifuge virtues. As a febrifuge, it is superior to peppermint, and may be used freely in warm infusion. The cold infusion is beneficial in high color, or scalding of urine, difficult micturition, etc.; it may be used alone or in combination with marshmallow root. In fact, it is one of the best of simple diuretics, and acts nicely with potassium acetate. A saturated tincture of the fresh herb with gin has been found serviceable in gonorrhoea, strangury, suppressed urine, gravel, and as a local application to painful hemorrhoids. The oil is diuretic, stimulant, antispasmodic, and rubefacient, and is used externally in rheumatic and other pains. Dose, same as peppermint.

Other Uses :  Spearmint is often cultivated for its aromatic and carminative oil, referred to as oil of spearmint. The most abundant compound in spearmint oil is R-(–)-carvone, which gives spearmint its distinctive smell. Spearmint oil also contains significant amounts of limonene, dihydrocarvone, and 1,8-cineol. Unlike peppermint oil, oil of spearmint contains minimal amounts of menthol and menthone. It is used as a flavoring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps.

Known Hazards:To much use for some persons may cause Scanty secretion of urine with frequent desire to urinate; simple nausea.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spearmint
http://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/mentha-viri.html
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mints-39.html#spe

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