Spearmint is a native of England. It now grows wild in many parts of the U.S. and is cultivated in gardens for domestic use. It is also grown extensively for its oil. It is claimed that the Greeks and Romans used spearmint as a relish in most dishes. Perhaps that is the reason mint sauce is so popular.
Spearmint is often just called mint. The odor is strong and aromatic; the taste warm and slightly bitter, less pungent than that of peppermint and is considered by some as more agreeable. These properties are retained for some time by the dried plant. They depend on a volatile oil which is imparted to alcohol and water by maceration.
Being one of the mint family, it should NOT be boiled, as it is very volatile.
It may be used in warm infusion where a mild perspiration is desired.
It is unlike peppermint in that it also possesses diuretic properties and is suitable in inflammation of the kidneys and bladder and in suppression of the urine, it induces free discharge of the watery portion of the urine.
It has always held a foremost place in vomiting, in allaying sickness at the stomach and nausea by taking a weak warm infusion. The vomiting of pregnancy will often yield to it, and it readily quiets the stomach after emesis. Persistent vomiting in pregnancy can often be helped by the following: 1/2 oz. spearmint, 2 Dr. each cloves, cinnamon and rhubarb infused in 1 pt. boiling water. Cover for 20 min., strain and take a wine-glassful (3 or 4 T.) every 30 min. May be sweetened with sugar, if desired. In colic, flatulence and hysteria, add 1 part ginger to 3 parts spearmint infusion.
For hay asthma, the following is an excellent preparation: mix well equal parts of oil of peppermint and oil of spearmint in vaseline. Apply up the nostrils with a pencil brush or atomizer. It is also useful in catarrh conditions. It is soothing and healing to the mucous membranes and will protect them from the irritation of cold air.
As a liniment applied to various aches and pains, the following is useful: 1 part each of oil of spearmint and oil of rosemary and 10 parts of Tr. lobelia.
Wash the hands and heads of children with a decoction of spearmint when they are suffering from scabs.
The oil may be used for the same purpose as the herb. May be sweetened for internal use. For infantile troubles, the sweetened infusion is an excellent remedy.
The usual infusion is made up of 1 oz. in 1 pt. boiling water, taken in doses of a wine-glassful.