Spearmint, also known by its botanical name Mentha spicata, belongs to the mint family and is indigenous to Europe and areas of southwest Asia. The tips of spearmint leaves look like pointed spears, which is how the common name was derived. It is a perennial herb that grows up to 3 feet tall. Spearmint tea is a popular medicinal treatment for digestive and respiratory disorders. However, definitive evidence on the benefits of spearmint tea is lacking -- particularly long-term clinical studies -- so many of the uses may be simply based on folklore. Be sure to consult with a qualified health practitioner prior to using spearmint medicinally.
Spearmint tea is a particularly gentle remedy that is safe for pregnant women to use to alleviate nausea and morning sickness. Additionally, the herb may be fed to infants to treat colic. The herb has carminative action and, as a result, relieves flatulence, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and bowel and abdominal pains, according to Herbs2000.com.
Spearmint tea has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that work effectively to relieve respiratory disorders, such as sore throats, when ingested with honey. Additionally, spearmint tea reportedly enhances mental alertness and opens up congested sinuses and nasal passages, according to Herbs2000.com.
Spearmint tea might offer benefits for women suffering from hormone imbalances. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that spearmint tea helps improve the hormone balance of women suffering from hirsutism -- excessive hair growth caused by abnormally high levels of testosterone. This makes it a potential treatment for mild hirsutism. The Center notes that the tea also benefits women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome -- a hormonal disorder that causes hirsutism.
Spearmint leaves should be harvested just before the plant begins to bloom. The leaves can be dried in the sun for several hours and stored in an airtight container. To prepare the tea, place 6 tbsp. of fresh mint leaves in a glass container. Bring 2.5 cups of water to the boiling point, and add it to the herbs. Cover and steep the tea for about five minutes. The prepared tea will store for about two days in the refrigerator in a sealed container with 1 tbsp. of added lemon juice that preserves the active constituents. The recommended dose for spearmint tea is three cups a daily, according to AltMD.com.
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