Spearmint Improves Cognitive Function by Inhibiting the Enzyme Acetylcholinesterase


Spearmint, known by its botanical name Mentha spicata or Mentha viridis, is a species of mint native to much of Europe and Asia (Middle East, Himalayas, China etc.), and naturalized in parts of northern and western Africa, North America, and South America, as well as various oceanic islands.

The name spearmint is derived from the fact that the leaf tips are pointed.

Image result for spearmint

Figure 1.  Spearmint

There are three hybrids involving spearmint:

  • Peppermint Mentha × piperita
  • Ginder Mint – Mentha × gracilis
  • Large Apple Mint -Mentha × villosa

New studies are revealing that spearmint can “wake up” the brain and boost cognitive function. 


The brain boosting power of spearmint is due to the fact that spearmint is an inhibitor of the acetylcholinesterase enzyme, which results in higher concentrations of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  1

The results of two studies showed that spearmint improved attention, concentration, and brain function.  2  3


Study 1

In the first study subjects received 900 mg of a spearmint extract once daily with breakfast for 30 days.

For 4 hours subjects underwent acute evaluation and computerized cognition tests to measure memory, reasoning, attention/concentration, and planning.

After 4 hours of testing, researchers saw a 46% improvement on one task and 121% improvement on a second task.

Even after 30 days of supplementation of the spearmint extract, subjects showed overall improvements.  4


Study 2

The second study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, in which there were enrolled 90 subjects with age associated cognitive impairment.  5

The subjects of this second study received wither a 600 mg or 900 mg dose of spearmint extract with breakfast. 

For 90 days subjects underwent a number of computerized tests of cognitive performance.

The results of the study indicated the following working memory:

  • 900 mg dose – 3 time improvement in the quality of their working memory
  • 600 mg dose showed a non-significant improvement over baseline

The results of the study indicated the following spatial working memory:

  • 900 mg dose showed a nearly-3-times improvement compared to the placebo

There was also significant improvement in the sleep patterns of subjects on the 900 mg dose.


Informational References:

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