Peppermint and Spearmint Essential Oils: The Original Doublemint Twins
BENEFITS IN COMMON
Peppermint and spearmint are the original doublemint twins and are well known players in both their essential oil and herb forms. Much like lavender, the benefits of peppermint and spearmint are wide and varied in the realm of health and well being. The essential oils of both may be best known for their invigorating and uplifting scent, but they also have true healing abilities.
Peppermint and spearmint have many benefits in common, but when would you use one over the other? Spearmint essential oil is considered to be the better choice for children in topical applications because its menthol content is .05% versus peppermint’s whopping 40%. It is also a better choice for children to ingest as peppermint is often too harsh for young bodies; as a result, spearmint is found more often than peppermint in foods and products like toothpaste that are targeted to children. The higher menthol content in peppermint essential oil makes it more effective in massage and aromatherapy, but must be used with caution by people with breathing issues and high blood pressure. To be safe, neither peppermint nor spearmint essential oils should be used for massage or aromatheraphy on infants or by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, although either essential oil in a soap is generally considered to be safe.
Peppermint and spearmint essential oils when applied topically have an instant cooling effect on the skin, despite the fact that they are not actually dropping the skin’s temperature. Both can be mixed with a light carrier oil and massaged into the skin to help ease hot flashes, cool a sunburn, relieve itching from bug bites and rashes, and cool feverish skin. They can also revitalize dull skin and improve the texture of oily skin by improving blood circulation. How exactly do they work? The naturally occuring menthol in the oils triggers the cool receptors on the skin in the same way that capsaicin (cayenne pepper) is know to trigger heat receptors. Activating cool and heat receptors both help pain due to the temporary numbing effect. They also have natural antispasmodic properties and when used in massage can ease issues like joint and muscle aches and stiffness, spastic bowels, and menstrual cramps. Inhaling the oils can help ease headaches, clear nasal passages and open airways. Additionally, both peppermint and spearmint leaves are considered safe for ingestion during pregnancy and can be taken as a tea or in capsule form to combat morning sicknes, nausea, indigestion, gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort and even sore throat pain. Peppermint, in particular, is known to repel rodents, ants, cockroaches, fleas and black flies.
HISTORY & FUTURE
Mint is arguably the world's oldest medicine. Its many uses have been documented at least as far back as 1,000 BC with the leaves having being found in Egyptian pyramids. The Bible reveals that this herb was so valuable it was used to pay tithes, and even during the Middle Ages ground mint leaves were used to whiten teeth and freshen breath. Peppermint (mentha piperita) is a natural hybrid of spearmint (mentha spicata) and watermint (mentha aquatica), was discovered in 1696 by an English botanist named John Ray, and is native to Europe. Unlike many other herbs and essential oils, the many benefits of spearmint, and the newer peppermint, have been extensively studied and validated by the scientific community.
The possible benefits of peppermint and spearmint essential oil use in decreasing mental stress and restlessness, stimulating cognitive and physical function, enhancing memory, uplifting mood, stimulating hair growth (by increasing blood flow to scalp), and as anti-bacterial -fungal and -viral are gaining popularity in modern studies.
ARTLISS TIP Spearmint essential oil has a much softer, sweeter scent than its peppery, more camphorous mint sibling. We use a generous amount of pure spearmint essential oil in our very popular Spearmint Hemp Soap. Reminiscent of the "doublemint" gum we grew up with and absolutely yummy smelling!