In case you didn’t already know, I am slightly obsessed with tea. Not just the taste of tea, but the ritual of tea as well as its heath benefits. To me, drinking a hot cup of tea calms the nerves while also working to soothe many physical ailments.
A cup of tea is a cup of peace. ~Soshitsu Sen XV, quoted by Kenneth S. Cohen
Tea is a magical elixir that can aid in healing and recovery. One of the ways in which tea can help is by balancing hormones. One in particular that you are probably familiar with is spearmint (the plant that grows wild!).
Spearmint’s Effect on Androgen Levels
The reason I started drinking spearmint tea regularly (other than its yummy taste) is because it is considered to be an anti-androgen. Androgens, although they are commonly referred to as “male sex hormones,” are a group of hormones produced by both men and women. Testosterone is one of the main androgens that occurs in higher levels in males and is responsible for the development and function of male sex organs. In women, androgens are produced primarily by the ovaries and adrenal glands.
Role of androgens:
- Trigger puberty
- Regulate certain organ functions
- Help maintain strong bones and muscles
- Regulate sexual desire
Symptoms of excessive androgen levels in women:
- Male-pattern hair growth (also known as hirsutism, which can show up as hair on the face, chin, chest, stomach)
- Increased muscle mass
- Male-pattern baldness
- Amenorrhea (lack of menstruation)
- Fertility issues
Having excessive androgen levels as a woman is a classic sign of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (learn more about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). High androgen levels are also linked to type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Yikes! Let’s get those androgens in check!
A Natural Remedy for Balancing Androgen Levels
Spearmint is a common herbal remedy used in the Middle East to address hirsutism due to its anti-androgenic effects. It has been found to reduce the levels of serum free testosterone. In one study testing this theory, spearmint tea was administered to women with hirsutism twice a day for 30 days (study).
The result was a significant decrease in free testosterone and an increase in follicular stimulating hormone (FSH stimulates the maturation of sperm and ovum and produces estrogen) and luteinizing hormone (LH stimulates progesterone and testosterone secretion). Even though the anti-androgen effect was significant, the objective consensus was that hirsutism was not significantly reduced. However, the participants reported that the degree of their hirsutism was reduced.
Is this a long-term remedy for hirsutism and elevated androgen levels? Spearmint tea is clearly linked to reduced levels of androgens as this study demonstrates, but whether or not it resolves hirsutism has yet to be determined. Reducing hirsutism most likely involves drinking spearmint tea regularly for a long time.
Spearmint Tea for Hormonal Acne
As you might guess, spearmint tea may also help to reduce hormonal acne since high androgen levels can contribute to acne. For those who wish to combat their acne naturally, drinking spearmint tea may be helpful (and bonus: you’ll be drinking more water, which also helps with acne!).
How to Prepare Medicinal Strength Spearmint Tea
Medicinal strength tea is just that…tea strong enough to have a therapeutic effect. It’s all in the steep time, baby!
- Bring water to a boil.
- Using a mason jar, a pot, a teapot, or a mug, add 1 tablespoon of dried herb per 8 ounces of water or 2 tablespoons of fresh herb per 8 ounces of water.
- Cover the pot or mug to keep the volatile oils in (that’s the good stuff; don’t let it escape!).
- Steep herb in water for at least 4 hours. You can brew it at night and drink it in the morning, allowing it to steep all night.
- Drink it cold or gently heat it back up. Tea will keep fresh for up to 12 hours at room temperature.
Are There Side Effects?
It is important to remember that while spearmint is natural, natural remedies may have side effects and/or interactions with medications. A few studies show that long-term regular consumption of peppermint tea (which is in the same family as spearmint tea) affected the reproductive system of male rats, which makes sense since it lowers testosterone (study). Another rat study found that consumption of peppermint and spearmint tea was linked to reduced iron absorption (study), thus it is always a wise decision to consult with a doctor (preferably one that is familiar with complementary medicine) if you plan to use herbal remedies. Mint can also exacerbate heartburn, so do keep that in mind.
The Bottom Line
There are many medications out there that can help to balance hormones, but these are not without side effects. My preference is for natural or as close to nature as you can get. The benefits are that spearmint tea is accessible and affordable and is less likely to cause side effects.
Will spearmint tea work long-term? The few studies on spearmint did not run long enough to determine this, but when your other options are medications with a long list of side effects (*cough*birth control*cough*), you might consider giving this a try first! At the very least, you will enjoy a nice cup of tea.
Have you tried spearmint tea for acne or hirsutism? Please share your experience in the comments below!