Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Spearmint for Memory?

Article by Ann Walker
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a parent species of peppermint or black mint (Mentha x piperita), which was discovered in England only a few centuries ago, as a hybrid cross between spearmint and watermint (M. aquatica). Spearmint is considered by herbal practitioners as being a milder version of peppermint, but - not surprisingly considering its origin - many of the traditional health benefits which have been attributed to peppermint are also ascribed to spearmint: including its use for symptoms of nausea, indigestion, gas, headache, etc. However, in the last few years spearmint itself has been the subject of at least three clinical studies.

This year, following on from promising results in the laboratory, a water-based extract of spearmint in tablet form was tested in a randomised, placebo-controlled, clinical trial (Kelli L. et al. J Alt & Comp Med 2018, 24, 37) of 90 otherwise healthy men and women aged 50-70 years. These subjects who consumed 900 mg per day of the spearmint extract for three months showed marked improvements in memory compared to those taking placebo.

The second study (PMID: 25058311) conducted recently was on spearmint tea, which was shown to reduce pain and stiffness in knee osteoarthritis compared with placebo. However, the numbers of people of this trial were regarded as too small to be certain of the effect. An earlier clinical study (PMID: 19585478) of spearmint tea showed reductions in testosterone levels compared with placebo in women with excess facial hair due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. Unfortunately, the short time of the study did not allow for any noticeable changes in hair growth. Nevertheless, these studies, although small, show potential new applications in healthcare for a tasty culinary herb which warrant more attention.

PMID = PubMed identifier

Ann Walker PhD FCPP MNIMH RNutr
Course Director DHM
Herbal Practitioner