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Spearmint Tea & PCOS: What The Science Says

Kym Campbell

By Kym Campbell, BSc. | Updated September 25th, 2023

Key Takeaways

Spearmint tea can reduce PCOS symptoms associated with high free testosterone levels. This includes abnormal hair growth, hair loss, and acne. But the strength of the effect is small.

Displacing other, non-PCOS-friendly drinks is one of the greatest benefits of spearmint tea for PCOS.

With other diet changes, you can make much greater reductions in testosterone levels. Start beating PCOS today with this free 3-Day Meal Plan, or my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge.

As the creator and host of the free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge, I get asked a lot about spearmint tea.

If you’re curious about spearmint tea and polycystic ovarian syndrome, this short article tells you everything you need to know.

Can Spearmint Herbal Tea Lower Testosterone?

Elevated levels of free testosterone are one of the chief causes of many PCOS symptoms. Acne, hair loss, and hirsutism are the most obvious presentations. But high testosterone also affects fertility, body weight, and more [4].

Spearmint herbal tea can help lower testosterone. Just maybe not as much as you’d like.

I recently reviewed the science behind various PCOS teas. Spearmint tea was one of only three teas studied in PCOS-specific randomized controlled trials. Green tea and marjoram tea are the other two.

A Turkish study looked at women with PCOS and those that just had hirsutism. They gave them two cups of spearmint tea a day for five days during the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle. This resulted in decreases in free testosterone. Luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and estrogen levels went up [11].

Other research supports these findings [1,2]. In a randomized controlled trial, PCOS women took either spearmint tea or a placebo herbal tea. Each group consumed a cup of tea twice a day for a month. The spearmint tea group reduced free testosterone levels. They also observed similar improvements in luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels.

These results were statistically significant. But the strength of the effect was small. There was a clear change in hormone levels among tea drinkers. There was also a reduction in the self-reported degree of hirsutism. But there was no significant improvement when using an objective clinical rating system. This is likely due to the trial not being long enough for hirsutism to resolve. But we can’t know for sure either way without a longer-duration trial.

Summary

Don’t expect spearmint tea to work wonders. If you drink spearmint tea regularly, it may help on the margins. But it’s unlikely to make a meaningful difference on its own.

Better Ways to Lower Testosterone

If you’re drinking spearmint tea to lower testosterone, then it’s worth keeping this intervention in perspective. In isolation, drinking tea is a tiny part of your total diet. The impact of everything else you consume is much more significant.

This is why a complete PCOS diet is better for lowering testosterone levels.

Studies have shown that insulin resistance aggravates the symptoms of high testosterone levels. This forms a vicious cycle that promotes PCOS development [3, 4]. A PCOS diet improves insulin regulation. This then leads to lower testosterone levels. A PCOS diet is also rich in foods that directly decrease free testosterone. This includes ingredients like flaxseeds [5, 6], nuts [7], and fatty fish [8].

Here are a few examples of the results achieved by women that have completed my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge.

I get that overhauling your diet is often overwhelming. But it all begins with your first step. That’s why many people find that my free 3-Day PCOS Meal Plan is the easiest place to start.

Summary

Adapting to a PCOS diet is the best way to lower testosterone levels. The strength of the effect is much greater than drinking herbal teas.

Other Benefits of Spearmint Tea for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Some people claim that spearmint tea may help with cognitive function. It might, but it’s a bit of a stretch of the evidence. Most studies looking into this potential benefit use a proprietary spearmint extract. That’s a much more powerful supplement than a couple of cups of tea. The studies also tend to be in people over 60 with age-associated memory impairment. Not exactly a good match for most women struggling with PCOS.

But there’s a big benefit of spearmint tea that isn’t immediately obvious.

Spearmint tea can be a great way to displace other beverages that are less PCOS-friendly.

As I’ve written about before, sugar is one of the most important foods to avoid with PCOS. This is because sugar drives both insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. These are underlying mechanisms that cause PCOS [4, 9, 10]. Dairy can be a problem for PCOS too. It may negatively impact gut health. Yet, it’s pretty normal to add sugar and dairy to hot drinks. Many people feel like they NEED it with their coffee, for instance.

Spearmint tea is also caffeine free. As explained here, coffee is not necessarily harmful to PCOS. But caffeine presents several risks that make it worth avoiding.

Unlike many other popular drinks, spearmint tea tastes best on its own. Spearmint is sweet and aromatic without being overpowering. Compared to sweet coffee with cream, a cup of spearmint tea provides health benefits beyond the sum of its parts.

Learn more about other good PCOS drinks here.

Summary

Displacing non-PCOS-friendly drinks is one of the biggest benefits of spearmint tea for PCOS.

The Bottom Line

Drinking spearmint tea can have a small but positive impact on free testosterone levels. This can help reduce many PCOS symptoms. Of potentially more significance is the benefit of displacing harmful drinks. Unlike many beverages, spearmint tea is free from sugar, dairy, and caffeine.

The hormone-balancing benefits of spearmint tea are overshadowed by your diet. Go beyond adding a tea habit to your routine. Join my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge, or download this free 3-Day Meal Plan.

Spearmint Tea & PCOS Tips

How much spearmint tea to lower testosterone? The ability of spearmint tea to lower testosterone is likely to be dose-dependent. The more you consume, the greater the effect (to a point). In the study by Grant described above, two cups of spearmint tea per day for a month was enough to lower hormone levels. Because hirsutism takes a long time to resolve, several months may be needed before the benefits are noticeable.

What is the best spearmint tea for PCOS? There’s no published research to show that any one brand of spearmint tea is better for PCOS than others. Any product promoted as a “PCOS spearmint tea” is just good marketing. I recommend buying only organic spearmint tea products.

How to make spearmint tea for PCOS? To prepare spearmint tea, steep a tea bag in 6 oz (180 mL) of boiled water for 5-7 minutes. For iced tea, follow the steps above before pouring over a tall glass filled with ice.

What is the best time to drink spearmint tea for PCOS? Drinking spearmint tea during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle is the best time to drink spearmint tea for PCOS [11].

Ready to Take Action?

  • Join my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge here. This is a unique program where you'll receive weekly meal plans, shopping lists, and helpful video lessons. You'll also be part of a motivated and inspiring community of like-minded women.

  • Download my free 3-Day PCOS Diet Meal Plan here. This is perfect for getting started if you aren't ready to commit to 30 days.

  • Join my PCOS Monthly Meal Planning Service here. This service includes hundreds of PCOS recipes within a pre-populated, yet customizable meal plan. It's designed to save you time and help you apply a PCOS diet.

  • Sign up for my Beat PCOS 10-Week Program. This is a comprehensive program that covers diet, PCOS-centric emotional eating, exercise, stress management, and much more. All within a support group environment. The 10-Week Program includes the same recipes and meal plan as my monthly meal planning service.

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References

1Grant, P., Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res, 2010. 24(2): p. 186-8.

2Sadeghi Ataabadi, M., et al., Role of Essential Oil of Mentha Spicata (Spearmint) in Addressing Reverse Hormonal and Folliculogenesis Disturbances in a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in a Rat Model. Adv Pharm Bull, 2017. 7(4): p. 651-654.

3Zeng, X., et al., Polycystic ovarian syndrome: Correlation between hyperandrogenism, insulin resistance and obesity. Clin Chim Acta, 2020. 502: p. 214-221.

4Wang, J., et al., Hyperandrogenemia and insulin resistance: The chief culprit of polycystic ovary syndrome. Life Sciences, 2019. 236.

5Mehraban, M., G. Jelodar, and F. Rahmanifar, A combination of spearmint and flaxseed extract improved endocrine and histomorphology of ovary in experimental PCOS. J Ovarian Res, 2020. 13(1): p. 32.

6Nowak, D.A., et al., The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study. Curr Top Nutraceutical Res, 2007. 5(4): p. 177-181.

7Kalgaonkar, S., et al., Differential effects of walnuts vs almonds on improving metabolic and endocrine parameters in PCOS. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2011. 65(3): p. 386-93.

8Nadjarzadeh, A., et al., The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Iran J Reprod Med, 2013. 11(8): p. 665-72.

9Popovic, M., G. Sartorius, and M. Christ-Crain, Chronic low-grade inflammation in polycystic ovary syndrome: is there a (patho)-physiological role for interleukin-1? Seminars in Immunopathology, 2019. 41(4): p. 447-459.

10González, F., Inflammation in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: underpinning of insulin resistance and ovarian dysfunction. Steroids, 2012. 77(4): p. 300-5.

11Akdoğan, M., et al., Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism. Phytother Res, 2007. 21(5): p. 444-7.