Spearmint is quite famously used for flavoring food, but this is not all it is good for. Spearmint tea has many amazing health benefits and has traditionally been used to treat conditions like pain, anxiety, stomach issues, and even convulsions.
PCOS, a hormonal disorder characterized by increased androgen levels (testosterone), cyst formation in the ovaries, and irregular menstrual cycles usually results in failure to ovulate typically resulting in infertility issues. Although there is no curative treatment for this disorder, recent studies have found spearmint to be effective against the symptoms of PCOS, which includes hirsutism.
But how exactly can spearmint tea help with PCOS?
What Does The Research Say About Spearmint and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Studies over the years have revealed that spearmint helps in managing the symptoms of PCOS naturally. Here's what research says so far:
1. Spearmint Might Help With Hirsutism
A 30 days long study from 2009 proved that spearmint has a strong anti-androgenic effect, which means that it reduces the amount of free and total testosterone. Testosterone, as we know, is the cause of excessive facial hair growth in women with PCOS, which can be a major cause of psychological stress in these women.
Although, the duration of the trial was not long enough to accurately measure the reduction in the total amount of hair, and so there was no objective reduction. But the participants reported that the degree of hirsutism was improved (subjective improvement).
Hair follicles can't be expected to be gone in a month. They generally do have a long-life (months to years), and so even when there is a decrease in testosterone, a slower recovery should be expected (few months). But this does indicate that regular consumption of spearmint tea might help you deal with hirsutism over time.
Spearmint tea twice daily is enough to reduce the testosterone levels naturally, according to this study.
The study also suggests that spearmint increases the levels of LH and FSH. In some cases of PCOS, there is an imbalance in these two hormones in PCOS which is the reason for the failure of ovulation in PCOS, leading to infertility. Though it's not clear whether this increase in FSH and LH levels is significant or not.
2. Might Help You Deal With Acne Associated With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Acne is another commonly encountered issue in PCOS. This also stems from increased androgen levels in the body.
An increased level of androgen leads to increased sebum production in and this, in turn, increases the formation of acne in women with PCOS.
Since spearmint is proven to reduce testosterone levels in the system, it might indirectly help with the management of acne in PCOS.
3. It May Help You Lose Weight
Women with PCOS also struggle with weight gain a lot. The weight gain results from insulin insensitivity and is quite often difficult to get rid of. Also, being obese is a risk factor for PCOS. Therefore, lifestyle modification is one of the primary modes of managing PCOS.
Spearmint tea might help you here as well.
There is an interesting study that says that in normal circumstances spearmint won't help you with weight loss, but if you have PCOS, spearmint may help you control your weight. This study was conducted in rats, and a significant weight loss was observed in rats with PCOS under treatment with spearmint oil (used at a high dose) when compared with the control group.
It's not recommended to depend on your tea to lose weight, but it seems it would be beneficial to add spearmint tea along with a good diet and exercise in your routine.
4. It Might Improve The Status of Follicles in the Ovary
As the name suggests, PCOS is characterized by cyst formation in the ovaries. Formation of these cysts disrupts the normal functioning of ovaries leading to failure of ovulation and infertility.
Some studies suggest that high doses spearmint helps the overall follicle count in the ovary. A study from 2017 says that spearmint reduces the degeneration of follicles (atretic). Apart from that, it was also noted that it reduces the number of cysts in the ovary as well as promotes the formation of Graafian follicles.
Graafian follicles are the follicles in which the ovum develops before ovulation. So the presence of Graafian follicle is an indication of impending ovulation, and is, therefore, a good thing in this case as ovulation normally does not occur in PCOS.
So, What Can We Conclude From These Studies?
All of the studies indicate that spearmint has a lot of potentials to provide good natural treatment for PCOS.
But does it cure PCOS? No, it does not cure PCOS.
It may help, but it's not the ultimate cure. It's also possible that the symptoms may come back once you stop using spearmint tea.
There is no known treatment for PCOS. All of the treatment options that are currently available only manages the symptoms but are not curative. So, in a scenario like this, anything natural that helps with the symptom is always better.
Although, this does not make it a replacement for medications if you are on any. Mostly, medications are not required in PCOS, and they are only used if indicated; say, if you are trying to get pregnant or if you have insulin resistance.
Spearmint tea is a good supplement but it should never be used as a replacement for these medications.
Some Beneficial Combinations That Might Help With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
1. Spearmint tea and Flaxseed
Studies suggest that a combination of spearmint and flaxseed extract can be helpful in PCOS. This study shows that this combination helps in reducing testosterone levels, increases progesterone levels, and improves follicle count in the ovary.
You can steep finely ground flaxseed or flaxseed (whole) with your spearmint tea. If you are using whole flaxseed, give it a good squeeze before straining it out. This will help release the helpful nutrients in the tea.
2. Spearmint tea with Stachys
This is yet another herb that is proven to improve PCOS symptoms, including improving FSH levels and follicle count. It's a very good antioxidant and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Steep Stachy with your spearmint tea for the added effect.
3. Spearmint tea with Marjoram
Marjoram is also a herb that helps with PCOS. Research shows that Marjoram reduces androgen levels and also improves sensitivity to insulin. So if you are someone who has insulin resistance associated with your PCOS, steeping Marjoram with your spearmint tea might help a little.
Side- Effects of Spearmint Tea
Spearmint is a very safe herb. But too much of anything can be bad. Keep your daily tea intake to a maximum of 3-4 cups.
Precaution should be taken:
1. You have a known allergy to spearmint. If so, avoid its usage.
2. A very high dosage of spearmint consumption has been found to affect male fertility in rats. So, it's advised to monitor your intake to avoid such complications.
3. It was also seen that at high doses, it might cause damage to liver tissue. This study was also conducted in rats, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
4. M. spicata variety of spearmint has been found to cause kidney in rats. It's best to avoid drinking spearmint tea at higher doses, especially if you have existing kidney diseases.
5. Some studies also suggest that it causes microscopic damage to the uterus when consumed in higher amount.
All of the above side-effects are dose-dependent, which means that they will only cause you damage at very high doses. So, monitor your intake, be safe, and consume no more than 3-4 cups of spearmint tea per day.
How To Prepare Spearmint Tea
You can very easily prepare spearmint tea at home.
You can either use fresh spearmint herb from your garden or you can buy premade spearmint tea bags.
Start with boiling water. It's important to bring the water to boil because the water at boiling temperature will help in a better infusion of the herb. Once the water is boiled, turn off the stove and put the fresh herb or tea bags in the pot. Let it steep for 10 minutes. Then strain and enjoy your tea.
You can experiment to determine how strong you like your tea to be. Add the herb accordingly. You can consume this herbal tea as it is, or you add tea and/or other herbs of your choice if you like. Add honey, sugar or stevia, if you prefer your tea sweet.
Two cups of spearmint tea are enough to normalize the hormone levels in 30 days.
Spearmint is a promising herb for the management of PCOS naturally. Being a safe herb to consume, it seems like adding a couple of cups of spearmint tea might help you deal with your PCOS symptoms to some extent.
Mind the possible side-effects. To be safe limit the intake to moderate levels.