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 a variety of conditions including pain, anxiety, stomach issues, and even convulsions.
PCOS, a hormonal disorder characterized by increased androgen levels (i.e. male reproductive hormones, including testosterone), cyst formation in the ovaries, and irregular menstrual cycles. Consequently this can result in failure to ovulate normally which then results in infertility.
Although there is no curative treatment for this disorder, recent studies have found spearmint to be effective in treating the symptoms of PCOS, most notably hirsutism (excessive body hair).
But how exactly does it do that? Read on to find out more
What Does The Research Say About Spearmint and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
1. Spearmint Might Help With Hirsutism
A 30 day randomized controlled study from 2009 indicated that spearmint has a strong anti androgenic effect; subjects that consumed spearmint tea experienced significant reductions in the amounts of free and total testosterone as compared with controls. Testosterone, as we know, is the cause of excessive facial hair growth in women with PCOS.
Unfortunately, the duration of the trial was not long enough to accurately measure the reduction in the total amount of hair and there was no objective reduction. However, the participants reported that the degree of hirsutism was improved.
This is particularly interesting as hair follicles can't be expected to be gone in a month. They generally have a long lifespan (months to years); even when there is a decrease in testosterone levels, the resultant decrease in body hair would be expected to occur slowly (likely over a few months).
Regardless, this study does suggest that regular consumption of spearmint tea might help you deal with hirsutism in the long run. .
The study also suggests that spearmint increases the levels of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) and FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone). This is relevant because In some cases of PCOS, there is an imbalance of these two hormones which is then the reason why some women with PCOS are unable to ovulate, ultimately resulting in infertility.
2. Spearmint Might Help You Deal With Acne Associated With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Acne is another commonly encountered issue in PCOS. This stems from increased androgen levels in the body.
An increased level of androgen leads to increased production of sebum and skin cells. This, in turn, increases the presence and severity of acne in women with PCOS.
Since spearmint has demonstrated an anti androgenic effect, it resulted in reduced testosterone levels meaning it has the potential to indirectly help with the management of acne in PCOS.
3. Spearmint Tea May Help You Lose Weight If You Have PCOS
Women with PCOS also frequently struggle with undesirable weight gain. The weight gain results from insulin insensitivity and is quite often difficult to reverse. Additionally, obesity is a risk factor for PCOS. Therefore, lifestyle modification including dietary changes and incorporation of physical activity is one of the primary methods of managing PCOS.
But Spearmint tea might help you here as well.
There is an interesting study conducted in rats that observed significant weight loss in the rats with PCOS that received high doses of spearmint oil when compared with the control group. Because this study was conducted in animals, we are unable to say with certainty that humans would respond in the same manner; however, it may very well be worth trying if you struggle with weight control as a result of PCOS.
Need i say, It is not recommended to depend solely on your tea to lose weight. However, it does appear beneficial to incorporate spearmint tea in your routine alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise.
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 the absence of ovulation and resulting infertility.
Some studies suggest that high doses of spearmint helps the overall follicle count in the ovary.
A study from 2017 observed reductions in the number of atretic follicles with spearmint supplementation. Apart from that, there was also an association noted between spearmint oil supplementation and the number of cysts in the ovary as well as the presence of Graafian follicles.
Graafian follicles are the follicles in which the ovum develops before ovulation. These are often absent in PCOS patients due to their altered follicle development and maturation. The presence of Graafian follicles is an indication of impending ovulation and is, therefore, a good thing as ovulation often does not occur in patients with PCOS.
So, What Can We Conclude From These Studies?
All of the studies indicate that spearmint has a lot of potential to provide good natural treatment for the symptoms of PCOS. But does it cure it?
No it does not. Although it might help with symptom control, those symptoms come back once you stop using spearmint tea regularly.
This is nothing to be discouraged by as all of the treatment options that are currently available focus only on managing the symptoms PCOS and are not curative. So, in a scenario like this, anything natural that helps manage the symptoms is an definitely an option worth considering.
Some Beneficial Combinations That Might Help With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
1. Spearmint tea and Flaxseed
A study from earlier this year suggests that a combination of spearmint and flaxseed extract can be helpful in PCOS. This study shows that this combination may help in reducing testosterone levels, increasing progesterone levels, and improving follicle counts in the ovary.
You can steep finely ground flaxseed or flaxseed (whole) in 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 into the tea.
2. Spearmint tea with Stachys
This is yet another herb that has been shown to help improve PCOS symptoms, including positive changes in FSH levels and follicle count. It has antioxidant properties and, as a result, has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Steep Stachy with your spearmint tea to get this added benefit.
3. Spearmint tea with Marjoram
Marjoram is another herb that can help with PCOS. Research shows an association between Marjoram consumption and reduced androgen levels as well as improved sensitivity to insulin. So if you are someone who has insulin resistance associated with your PCOS, steeping Marjoram with your spearmint tea might help.
Side- Effects of Spearmint Tea
Spearmint is generally a very safe herb, but too much of anything can be bad. We recommend that you keep your daily intake of spearmint tea to a maximum of 3-4 cups.
Precaution should be taken in the following situations:
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 is 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 so the effect on humans is unknown, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
4. M. spicata is a variety of spearmint which has been found to cause kidney problems in rats. It's best to avoid drinking spearmint tea at higher doses, especially if you have any existing kidney disease.
5. Some studies also suggest that it causes microscopic damage to the uterus when consumed in higher amounts.
All of the above side effects are dose-dependent, which means that they will typically only cause you harm 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 to more effectively infuse 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 prefer your tea and add the herb accordingly. You can consume this herbal tea as is, or you can add other herbs of your choice if you like. Consider adding honey, sugar, or stevia if you prefer your tea sweeter.
Based on the studies referenced, 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 daily might help you cope with your PCOS symptoms.
Mind the possible side effects.To be safe, limit your intake to moderate levels.