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Can Spearmint Tea Be the Key to Managing Your PCOS Symptoms?

In recent years, women with PCOS have favored the use of a more holistic approach to regulate their symptoms. Healthy lifestyle and dietary modifications are among them. Spearmint tea, among other herbal medicine choices, is gaining fame. Does it really work, and how much do we know about its effect?

What is spearmint tea?

Spearmint or Mentha spicata is a type of mint that has various culinary applications. It is commonly used as a flavor in gums, toothpaste, and herbal medicine for different medical conditions. Common colds, fever, sinusitis, bronchitis, and loss of appetite are among the conditions for which spearmint could be used. Spearmint oil is commercially available in some countries and is used to relieve muscle spasms. In the Middle East and African countries, on the other hand, it is common to use spearmint leaves in brewing tea.

Women try to implement healthy lifestyle and dietary modifications to improve PCOS symptoms, such as acne, unwanted hair, and irregular cycles. Several teas, such as green, marjoram, and spearmint, are among the choices that have been proposed to better the complaints.

Does spearmint tea help with PCOS?

After scientists from Turkey observed that tea steeped with spearmint or peppermint decreases libido in males, the idea of spearmint reducing male hormone levels was born. Studies on rats suggest that mint teas may decrease testosterone levels.

In a 2007 study, women who were suffering from increased male-type patterns of unwanted hair growth (hirsutism) had spearmint-steeped tea twice a day during the first two weeks after menstruation. After five days, the levels of free testosterone, a type of male hormone, were lower than before tea consumption. Another study came from the UK; this time, participants drank spearmint or placebo tea for 30 days. Consumption of spearmint tea was linked to the reduction of male hormones.

The findings from these studies were widely referred to promote spearmint tea for improving PCOS symptoms. However, these results should be interpreted cautiously. Both studies were conducted for a short period of time to have conclusive effects linked directly to tea consumption. Also, they found reduced testosterone levels but no change in the hirsutism measured by the physician. This could be related to the shortness of the study period, as hair takes time to grow, and the effects on hair growth would require much longer observations. Also, acne or irregular periods were not part of this assessment, while many sources claim such improvements when praising the beneficial effects of the tea.

Benefits of spearmint tea for PCOS

Despite the study limitations mentioned by the study authors, you may find several sources supporting tea as part of the treatment approach. However, it should be noted that spearmint tea is not an approved method to handle PCOS. As of now, no solid scientific evidence exists to show the required and safe amount and duration for the plant use.

What benefits do women expect, and are they true?

Following these studies, there were high hopes that a simple addition to daily life, such as tea drinking, could reduce acne, hirsutism, and menstrual irregularities. However, individual experiences may vary, for real biological or placebo effects yet to be determined, no recent (the last clinical article was published in 2009) or solid scientific evidence exists on the subject.

Does spearmint tea increase estrogen?

Estrogen is a female hormone secreted from the growing egg cell (follicle), and its level fluctuates during the menstrual cycle. In PCOS cases, follicle growth and ovulation, the release of the matured egg from the ovary, are impaired. As a result, estrogen levels might be measured lower than expected. Therefore, lower estrogen levels are not the cause but a consequence of PCOS-related hormonal disbalance. Also, acne and male-type hair growth in PCOS cases are related to increased male hormones, and only increasing the estrogen levels would not be a curative approach for these complaints.

One of two clinical studies researching the hormonal effects of spearmint tea consumption measured estrogen levels, and they found increased hormone levels. However, they also note the limitation of this measurement in their article: estrogen was quantified in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle when estrogen should physiologically increase. Thus, it would be scientifically challenging to conclude the actual effects on estrogen levels stemming from tea consumption.

Can spearmint tea lower testosterone?

Testosterone is known as a male hormone (androgen), but it is also important for hair growth in pubic and underarm areas in women. When excessive, hair may grow in other locations, such as the upper lip, chin, neck, between breasts, lower belly, inner thighs, and others. In PCOS, with a chain of ovulation and hormonal alterations, androgen levels may increase and cause male-type hair growth (hirsutism).

Two human studies and several animal studies explored the effect of spearmint tea or extract on testosterone levels. These studies found that one or two types of testosterone levels dropped with spearmint use. However, testosterone is not the only or the main reason initiating the PCOS hormonal disbalance chain. This should be remembered when considering expectations for the therapeutic effects of spearmint tea.

How to use spearmint tea for PCOS symptoms

All pros and cons considered, you may decide to proceed with spearmint consumption. The amount, frequency, and choice of the correct product will be your following questions. It should be noted that no scientifically approved information on these questions is available. While spearmint tea has been consumed in different cultures for years, it would be challenging to make an evidence-based medical recommendation about how to select the most effective tea type, how to prepare, how much or when to consume, or how long you should continue the tea drinking habit to see the first desired effects on PCOS symptoms.

Side effects of spearmint tea

For centuries, some cultures have used 3–4 cups of spearmint tea for digestive symptoms between meals. Although it is considered safe and helpful, some side effects have been reported. Here are some known side effects of spearmint consumption:

  • Reduced libido in males. This was the starting point in the PCOS-related research.
  • Contact allergy reactions to spearmint. For example, some people may be allergic to menthol or other compounds in spearmint.
  • Iron deficiency anemia. This was associated with the compounds found in these plants, which compete with iron absorption in the gut.
  • Liver and kidney damage. In animal studies, increasing doses of spearmint caused a higher degree of liver and kidney damage.

To conclude, it is highly tempting to use the easily accessible method to cure hirsutism and other PCOS-related symptoms. However, expectations should be kept realistic, and possible side effects with uncontrolled high-dose consumption should be considered. Medical evaluation by a healthcare provider, proper medical treatment, and healthy lifestyle adjustments would be recommended steps to address the undesired effects of PCOS.

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