Peppermint Vs Spearmint Tea

Peppermint Vs Spearmint Tea: Explore Differences Between Them

Mint, including Peppermint and Spearmint, has been loved for its refreshing flavor and health benefits. These herbs are used in cooking, medicine, and more.

This article explores the differences between Peppermint and Spearmint, two delightful herbal teas.

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Key Takeaways

  • Peppermint and Spearmint are popular herbal teas with unique features.
  • Both offer wonderful health benefits.
  • Your choice depends on your personal taste and needs.
  • Adding Peppermint tea to your daily routine can boost your health.

Understanding Spearmint and Peppermint

What is Spearmint?

spearmint leaves

Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is a herb known for its mild fragrance and refreshing flavor. It’s used in chewing gum, drinks, and many other products.

In traditional medicine, spearmint treats colds, coughs, asthma, fever, digestive issues, and more. Scientific studies show spearmint has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a cherished folk medicine [1].

What is Peppermint?

peppermint leaves

Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) is a hybrid of spearmint and watermint. It’s famous for its health benefits, especially its antimicrobial properties.

Peppermint is used in flavorings, medicines, and food. Its essential oil contains menthol and menthone, which have muscle-relaxing, bile-stimulating, and antibacterial effects.

Menthol is also wonderful for soothing muscles and aiding digestion [2].

Spearmint Vs. Peppermint: A Detailed Comparison

Appearance

Characteristic

Spearmint

Peppermint

Leaf

Spear-shaped, pointed, hairy, shiny, larger, serrated edges

Oval-shaped, dark green, may have dark red or purple veins, particularly on the underside

Flower

Pink or white

Pink, often darker

Stem

Green, sometimes light purple, hairy

Purple stem, less hairy

Habitat

Prefers moist soil, partial shade

Requires consistently moist soil, full sun

Taste

  • Spearmint: Mild, sweet flavor, suitable for savory dishes. It is also commonly used to enhance the flavor of cocktails.
  • Peppermint: Due to its high essential oil content, it has a strong, cool, spicy flavor. Peppermint is often used in desserts and as a palate cleanser.
  • Peppermint has a robust and invigorating aroma, while Spearmint has a gentle and more pleasant fragrance.

Chemical Composition

  • Spearmint: Primarily contains carvone. High menthol concentration (approximately 0.05%).
  • Peppermint: Contains menthol and menthone. High menthol concentration (about 40%).
  • Menthol provides many benefits for both Peppermint and Spearmint. It alleviates pain and discomfort, soothes muscles, and aids digestion. Moreover, menthol freshens breath, reducing discomfort from throat inflammation and other respiratory issues.

Uses 

tea is the most common way to use spearmint and peppermint

Spearmint: Widely used in culinary applications, often added to savory dishes like pesto sauce, pasta, or grilled vegetables.

It is also commonly grown as a flavoring agent in food and cosmetics.

Additionally, Spearmint is utilized in personal care products such as shaving creams and toothpaste, where its refreshing properties are highly valued.

Peppermint: Enhances the flavor of sweet dishes and desserts, especially chocolate-based treats. It is commonly used in aromatherapy oils and over-the-counter ointments for relieving body aches.

Furthermore, peppermint oil is topically applied to alleviate headaches by massaging onto the temples and forehead.

Peppermint tea is another popular application, favored for its ability to reduce bloating and indigestion, contributing to overall digestive health.

What are the Health Benefits of Spearmint and Peppermint?

Digestive Support (IBS, Upset Stomach)

IBS, short for "Irritable Bowel Syndrome," is a common disorder affecting the digestive system, causing symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits.

Both Spearmint and Peppermint are known to support digestion.

A study have shown that Peppermint can reduce irritable bowel syndrome symptoms by relieving intestinal muscle tension and reducing pain sensations due to its menthol content. Menthol is believed to help relax intestinal muscles and alleviate IBS symptoms [4].

Spearmint may be applied for gastrointestinal abnormalities such as pain and bloating, indigestion, and flatulence [5].

Moreover, peppermint may help alleviate stomach pain and digestive issues by promoting food passage through the stomach [6]. Both peppermint and spearmint contain carvone, which reduces gastrointestinal muscle spasms and abdominal pain [7].

Cognitive Boost (Improved Brain Function)

The cool, refreshing taste of Peppermint and Spearmint is believed to enhance cognition and focus. Several studies have indicated that inhaling peppermint essential oil can improve memory and attention.

Regular consumption of mint leaves may enhance brain health by improving alertness, memory retention, and other cognitive functions.

A study with 144 adolescents revealed that inhaling peppermint aroma for about 5 minutes significantly enhanced their brain function [8].

This demonstrates that the aroma from peppermint or spearmint essential oils not only enhances brain function but also aids in cognitive improvement.

Additionally, a recent study involving elderly individuals with declining memory function showed significant improvements in working memory and mental acuity.

The study was conducted by administering daily supplements containing 900 milligrams of peppermint extract [9].

Antioxidant Power (Protecting Cells)

Both types of tea contain antioxidants, which protect cells from the harmful effects of free radicals.

Peppermint contains various antioxidants such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and vitamins. Terpenes in peppermint oil also play a crucial role in protecting the body from oxidative stress-induced damage [10].

They help prevent damage caused by molecules generated by free radicals, thus improving overall health and slowing down the aging process.

Another study demonstrated that Mentha spicata contains abundant antioxidants [11]. In particular, methanol extracts exhibit strong antioxidant activity.

Furthermore, the essential oil has excellent antibacterial activity.

Potential Allergy Relief

The allergy-reducing potential of Spearmint has been studied, and some research suggests that the use of spearmint oil may alleviate symptoms of conditions like oral lichen planus (OLP) [12].

Allergies can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including sneezing, coughing, itching, swollen eyes, and can exacerbate conditions like asthma.

Spearmint contains rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that may help reduce allergies and improve asthma symptoms.

In one study, rosmarinic acid was found to be as effective as dexamethasone in reducing airway and lung congestion in an experimental asthma model [13].

Oral Health Benefits

Mint is widely used in oral care products for its antibacterial properties and breath freshening effects.

In one study, researchers created super-small particles called nanoemulsions from spearmint oil for use in oral cancer treatment.

These nanoemulsions were designed to keep spearmint particles stable and very small in size. When tested on oral cancer cells, these nanoemulsions exhibited the ability to kill cancer cells.

This demonstrates their potential in oral cancer treatment and opens up new prospects in this field [14].

Peppermint is commonly found in toothpaste and mouthwash, helping to kill bacteria that cause plaque and improve breath freshness. Research has shown that peppermint has improved unpleasant breath after one week of use [15].

Additional Benefits

a cup of mint tea

Both types of tea can also help reduce stress, alleviate pain, and improve sleep.

Furthermore, peppermint and spearmint may aid in reducing menstrual pain and improving polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms. To use it, you can brew peppermint or spearmint tea and enjoy it hot or cold.

Peppermint and spearmint each have their own advantages. Peppermint is known for its effectiveness in treating sinus infections, sore throats, headaches, and uncomfortable joint pain.

On the other hand, spearmint tends to address digestive issues and inflammation. One notable strength of spearmint is its effectiveness in treating acne due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Spearmint Vs. Peppermint: Choosing the Right Herb

Spearmint vs Peppermint

The choice between spearmint and peppermint depends on your individual needs.

In terms of flavor, if you prefer a gentle and sweet taste, spearmint may be the better option. Conversely, if you enjoy a cool, intense flavor, peppermint might be more suitable.

Although spearmint and peppermint share some similarities, they should not be substituted for each other. Peppermint has a stronger flavor and aroma than spearmint, which may overpower other ingredients in cooking.

If you are cooking savory dishes that call for spearmint, you might consider using basil or parsley instead.

In terms of usage, spearmint is commonly used to address digestive issues such as bloating, indigestion, and nausea, while peppermint is known for its ability to relax the respiratory tract and improve conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

Alternatively, you can also consider your health condition. If you're looking to alleviate abdominal discomfort, spearmint may be the preferred choice.

Conversely, if you have respiratory issues, peppermint might be more beneficial.

Incorporating Mint Tea into Your Daily Routine

Mint tea is not only a delicious beverage but also offers a range of health benefits.

Here's how you can incorporate it into your daily routine:

  • Morning Boost: Its refreshing flavor can awaken your senses and provide a gentle energy boost without the later caffeine crash.
  • Post-Meal Digestion: Sip on peppermint tea after meals to aid digestion.
  • Peppermint's natural digestive properties can help alleviate bloating, gas, and indigestion, making it an excellent choice for promoting gut health.
  • Midday Pick-Me-Up: Instead of sugary snacks or caffeinated beverages in the afternoon, opt for a cup of peppermint tea. It can help curb cravings and provide a refreshing break to help you stay focused and energized for the rest of the day.
  • Evening Relaxation: Unwind in the evening with a warm cup of peppermint tea. Its soothing effects can promote relaxation and prepare your body for a restful night's sleep.
  • Hydration Boost: Keep hydrated throughout the day by incorporating peppermint tea into your water intake. Unlike caffeinated beverages, peppermint tea is caffeine-free and can contribute to your daily hydration goals.

Whether enjoyed hot or cold, mint tea is a versatile and flavorful beverage that can easily become a staple in your daily routine.

The ingredients you need are 1-2 teaspoons of dried mint leaves or a peppermint tea bag, or about 15 fresh mint leaves.

Boil water and steep the leaves in hot water for 5-7 minutes. Pour into a cup, add honey (or sugar), and enjoy immediately.

Peppermint is increasingly popular as a dietary supplement today. Here are a few ways you can use it:

  • Capsules: Both peppermint and spearmint are available in capsule form. Follow the dosage instructions on the packaging, typically one or two capsules per day with meals.
  • Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil supplements can be taken to relieve symptoms of IBS and other digestive issues. Take according to the recommended dosage, usually one or two drops diluted in a glass of water or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Spearmint Extract: Spearmint extract supplements can be used for digestive health and hormonal balance. Take as directed on the product label.

Conclusion

Peppermint and spearmint tea each have unique flavors and health benefits. Peppermint, with its strong aroma, helps with respiratory issues and digestion.

Spearmint, milder in flavor, is effective for bloating and indigestion. Incorporate mint tea into your routine to enjoy these benefits and experiment with both to find your favorite.

References

[1] Ganesan Mahendran, Sanjeet Kumar Verma, Rahman LU. The traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of spearmint (Mentha spicata L.): A review. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2021;278:114266-114266. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2021.114266
[2] Rasouli H, Adibi H, Narges Moasefi. Peppermint and Its Functionality: A Review. ResearchGate. Published August 4, 2017. Accessed May 15, 2024. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319529691_Peppermint_and_Its_Functionality_A_Review
[3] https://academics.hamilton.edu/foodforthought/Our_Research_files/mint.pdf?q=the-mint-plant-and-its-uses
[4] Haber SL, El-Ibiary SY. Peppermint oil for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. American journal of health-system pharmacy. 2016;73(2):22-31. doi:https://doi.org/10.2146/ajhp140801
[5] Mohaddese Mahboubi. Mentha spicata L. essential oil, phytochemistry and its effectiveness in flatulence. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine. 2021;11(2):75-81. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.08.011
[6] Masahiko Inamori, Akiyama T, Akimoto K, et al. Early effects of peppermint oil on gastric emptying: a crossover study using a continuous real-time 13C breath test (BreathID system). Journal of gastroenterology. 2007;42(7):539-542. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00535-007-2067-3
[7] Madisch A, Heydenreich CJ, Wieland V, Hufnagel R, Hotz J. Treatment of Functional Dyspepsia with a Fixed Peppermint Oil and Caraway Oil Combination Preparation as Compared to Cisapride. Arzneimittel-Forschung. 2011;49(11):925-932. doi:https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1300528
[8] Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. MODULATION OF COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE AND MOOD BY AROMAS OF PEPPERMINT AND YLANG-YLANG. International Journal of Neuroscience. 2008;118(1):59-77. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450601042094
[9] Herrlinger KA, Nieman KM, Sanoshy KD, et al. Spearmint Extract Improves Working Memory in Men and Women with Age-Associated Memory Impairment. ˜The œjournal of alternative and complementary medicine/Journal of alternative and complementary medicine. 2018;24(1):37-47. doi:https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2016.0379‌
[10] Riachi LG, A.B C. Peppermint antioxidants revisited. Food chemistry. 2015;176:72-81. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.12.028
[11] Scherer R, Mayara Fumiere Lemos, Mariana Fumiere Lemos, Gésika Coimbra Martinelli, Lopes D, Silva. Antioxidant and antibacterial activities and composition of Brazilian spearmint (Mentha spicata L.). Industrial crops and products. 2013;50:408-413. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indcrop.2013.07.007
[12] Shyamalar Gunatheesan, Mei Mui Tam, Tate B, Tversky J, Nixon R. Retrospective study of oral lichen planus and allergy to spearmint oil. Australasian journal of dermatology. 2012;53(3):224-228. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-0960.2012.00908.x
[13] Shakeri F, N. Eftekhar, N. Mohammadian Roshan, R. Rezaee, A. Moghimi, M.H. Boskabady. Rosmarinic acid affects immunological and inflammatory mediator levels and restores lung pathological features in asthmatic rats. Allergologia et immunopathologia. 2019;47(1):16-23. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aller.2018.04.004
[14] Sukannika Tubtimsri, Chutima Limmatvapirat, Siripan Limsirichaikul, Prasert Akkaramongkolporn, Inoue Y, Sontaya Limmatvapirat. Fabrication and characterization of spearmint oil loaded nanoemulsions as cytotoxic agents against oral cancer cell. Asian journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 2018;13(5):425-437. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajps.2018.02.003
[15] Roza Haghgoo, Abbasi F. Evaluation of the use of a peppermint mouth rinse for halitosis by girls studying in Tehran high schools. Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry. 2013;3(1):29-29. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/2231-0762.115702
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Author

Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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