The traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of spearmint (Mentha spicata L.): A review

J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Oct 5:278:114266. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.114266. Epub 2021 Jun 1.


Ethnopharmacology relevance: Mentha spicata L. (Lamiaceae), commonly called Spearmint, is wildly cultivated worldwide for its remarkable aroma and commercial value. In addition to traditional foods flavouring agent, M. spicata is well known for its traditional medicinal uses, particularly for the treatment of cold, cough, asthma, fever, obesity, jaundice and digestive problems.

Aim of the review: This review aims to critically appraise scientific literature regarding the traditional uses, bioactive chemical constituents and pharmacological activities of M. spicata.

Materials and methods: A review of the literature information on M. spicata was searched from scientific electronic search databases (Google Scholar, PubMed, Web of Science, ACS, Science Direct, Taylor and Francis, Wiley, Springer and SCOPUS. Structures for secondary metabolites were confirmed using PubChem and ChemSpider.

Results: The studies conducted on either crude extracts, essential oil or isolated pure compounds from M. spicata had reported a varied range of biological effects including antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, antidiabetic, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, larvicidal activity, antigenotoxic potential and antiandrogenic activities. Phytochemical analysis of various parts of M. spicata revealed 35 chemical constituents, belonging to phenolic acids, flavonoids and lignans.

Conclusion: The review finding indicates that the pharmacological properties of M. spicata supported its traditional uses. The essential oils and extracts showed remarkable antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective activities. However, more studies, especially in vivo experiments and clinical trials of the human to evaluate cellular and molecular mechanisms based pharmacological, bioactive effectiveness and safety investigation, should be undertaken in the future to provide stronger scientific proof for their traditional medicinal properties.

Keywords: Biological activities; Essential oil; Mentha spicata; Phenolic acids; Spearmint.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional / methods
  • Mentha spicata / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Phytochemicals / isolation & purification
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts