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Spearmint vs. Peppermint: The Differences, Health Benefits, & Best Uses

Fresh Mint Leaves

Spearmint and peppermint are both herbs from the mint family that are commonly referred to as “mint.” However, there are many differences between these minty herbs regarding their health benefits and the best ways to use them. 

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between spearmint and peppermint and how we recommend using each so you can maximize their benefits. 

Peppermint Benefits & Best Uses

Peppermint has a more stimulating scent than spearmint. With its cooling, stimulating, and refreshing scent, peppermint essential oil is ideal for soothing headaches and digestive upset and sharpening your mind and attention. 

Many studies have shown that peppermint promotes increased focus and alertness, making it an excellent choice during an intense work or study session. In one study, 24 adults performed significantly better on cognitive tests when they used peppermint oil. A different study demonstrated that inhaling peppermint essential oil improved alertness and memory. 

Both peppermint and spearmint may alleviate digestive problems. One study on 726 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found that those treated with peppermint essential oil had much better symptom relief than the placebo group. 

Many have also found peppermint helpful for relieving menstrual cramps. A 2016 study on menstrual cramps demonstrated that female students experienced lower average pain intensity and cramp duration when taking peppermint. 

Lastly, we regularly recommend peppermint for its purported ability to relieve clogged sinuses. Studies have found that peppermint not only has antioxidant properties but exhibits other benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, and antimicrobial properties, all of which may help you recover from a cold or flu faster. 

Here are some of our favorite peppermint herbal remedies:

  • Peppermint Essential Oil: Diffusing peppermint essential oil may emotionally support the mind when experiencing confusion, depression, poor memory, or brain fog. We’ve also had people report success with reducing headache severity when they apply peppermint oil on the back of their necks or temples! 
  • Peppermint Tea: Peppermint tea has traditionally been recommended to relax the stomach muscles, soothe digestive issues, and increase energy levels. Many people love the taste of peppermint, making this a popular tea choice regardless of its purported benefits. While caffeine-free, peppermint tea is also a naturally stimulating herb, making this an excellent choice for your morning cup of tea. 
  • Lavender Peppermint Roll-On Oil Blend: If you’re looking for the ultimate relaxing blend to help minimize stress and tension headaches, try our Lavender Peppermint Roll-On Oil Blend. Massage into the affected area or the back of your neck or temples to promote greater relaxation. 
  • Memo Right Capsules: For those interested in supporting better memory, focus, and mental clarity, Memo Right Capsules are a potent combination of ginkgo, peppermint, gotu kola, astragalus, rosemary, and eleuthero - all herbs specially chosen for their touted memory and energy-enhancing effects. 
  • Light & Lift Capsules: As an energizing and stimulating herb, peppermint, along with other uplifting herbs like St. John’s Wort and ginkgo, encourages less mental fatigue, depression, and anxiety. 

Spearmint Benefits & Best Uses

Spearmint has a refreshing, sweet, and minty scent and flavor. It is often used to flavor toothpaste, chewing gum, lozenges, mouthwash, and delicious herbal teas. 

In terms of health benefits, spearmint is best known for being a cooling, anti-inflammatory product. Compared to peppermint, it is less stimulating, making it a better choice for evening use.

Many herbalists recommend spearmint for digestive issues, such as gas and bloating, which researchers have found promising results. One randomized controlled trial found that patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experienced decreased severity and frequency of abdominal discomfort, bloating, and pain when taking carvone, a compound found naturally in spearmint. 

Another interesting study found that applying spearmint essential oil (diluted in a carrier oil) to the skin reduced the chance of nausea and vomiting. This shows that spearmint may soothe an upset stomach, demonstrating that inhaling spearmint essential oil may be a good way to alleviate motion sickness, morning sickness, or other nausea-inducing conditions. 

Like peppermint, spearmint is also high in antioxidants, which may protect against free radicals connected to oxidative stress and chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. 

On top of all this, spearmint has been shown to promote relaxation, which we could all use a little bit more of! One study on the brain showed that spearmint interacts with GABA receptors, giving a slightly sedative effect. 

Interested in trying spearmint out? Here are some of our favorite ways to use spearmint: 

  • Spearmint Essential Oil: Spearmint essential oil adds a refreshing, relaxing scent to your home with a diffuser or applied to your pulse points. Inhale spearmint essential oil or dab it on your neck to support your body when feeling stressed or nauseous. 
  • Counting Sheep Tea: Unlike stimulating peppermint, spearmint promotes a calmer mind and body. Our Counting Sheep Tea has a wombo-combo of chamomile, spearmint, passion flower, valerian, and more to help you drift into sweet dreams. You can also drink this to soothe a pounding headache.  
  • Spearmint Tea: A pleasing tea with one ingredient: spearmint leaf! This tea is a fantastic choice on a hot or stressful day because of its refreshing smell, taste, and properties. 
  • Harmony For Your Head Tea: If tackling stress or headaches is your goal, this tea is the perfect supportive elixir made from mellow rooibos, spearmint, feverfew, lemongrass, lavender, and more. These herbs promote a calmer mind and are naturally caffeine-free to keep you feeling less wiry. 
  • Siesta Time Tea: Another amazing choice for comforting the mind and body before bed. This tea contains spearmint, chamomile, passion flower, lemon balm, and more to help you fall asleep faster. 

Spearmint vs. Peppermint

Both spearmint and peppermint have digestive benefits, but otherwise, these herbs have some unique differences! Spearmint is ideal for those interested in soothing the mind and body, whether experiencing heightened stress, anxiety, or insomnia. On the other hand, peppermint is an excellent option if you’re looking for an energy boost or increased alertness because of its stimulating smell and properties. 

We hope this article answers any questions about these similar but unique herbs! 

Well Wishes, 

Herbalist Natalie & Herbalist Leilah