Tired of waxing, tweezing or bleaching unwanted facial hair? Help is here! It turns out one of the benefits of spearmint tea is thwarting the growth of embarrassing excess facial hair growth caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, better known as PCOS. The herbal brew, which tastes delicious hot or iced, brims with beneficial compounds that halt unwanted hair growth from the inside out. Read on to see how it can help you.
Understanding how PCOS affects facial hair growth
PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects women as early as their first menstrual cycle. It’s more likely to occur in women with a family history of PCOS, those who are overweight and women who have higher levels of male hormones known as androgens. Up to 10% of women in the United States are affected by PCOS. That means that six million of us are dealing with acne, facial hair growth, irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts and other health hassles the condition brings. What’s more, research in Current Pharmaceutical Design reveals up to 80% of women with PCOS experience excess facial hair growth, also known as hirsutism.
While PCOS is typically treated with medications and lifestyle changes, these can be difficult to troubleshoot or take time to start working. And for women who are experiencing embarrassing facial hair growth, that’s time they feel like they can’t spare. Fortunately, there’s a simple, natural solution that thwarts this unwanted hair growth and counteracts other symptoms of PCOS: spearmint tea. “We use spearmint tea as one of our most common recommendations for PCOS because it truly helps,” says Erica Armstrong, MD, founder and CEO of Root Functional Medicine and author of The PCOS Thyroid Connection. (Unwanted hair triggered by menopause? Click through to see how to get rid of menopause facial hair.)
The history of spearmint tea
Spearmint tea is a caffeine-free herbal tea made from Mentha spicata, the spearmint plant. If you’ve ever chosen spearmint chewing gum or mints over peppermint, you know that spearmint has a milder, slightly sweeter flavor compared to the crisp mintiness of peppermint. That makes the tea very pleasant for sipping throughout the day.
How spearmint tea curbs facial hair growth caused by PCOS
“Spearmint tea helps with abnormal hair growth on the face because it lowers androgens,” explains Dr. Armstrong. “Androgens are hormones like testosterone and DHEA that are not typically elevated in women. But in PCOS, women often have elevated androgens causing symptoms like unwanted hair growth on the face and chest, hair loss on the head, and acne.”
In one clinical study in Phytotherapy Research, women with PCOS drank either spearmint tea or a placebo brew twice daily for 30 days. At the end of the study, those who’d been drinking spearmint tea had significantly lower testosterone levels and reported less facial hair growth. Other studies have confirmed the testosterone-lowering effects of spearmint tea. (Click through to see how elevated testosterone also impacts menopausal body odor — and how to get rid of it.)
“Researchers currently don’t understand exactly what it is about spearmint that causes this effect,” says Lisa Watson, ND, a naturopathic doctor and women’s health expert. “But hair growth on the chin and face is strongly influenced by testosterone levels, so lowering testosterone can reduce the growth of these hairs over time.” And it does so without the bothersome side effects of medications used to treat PCOS.
The downsides of traditional PCOS medications
Although why spearmint tea works is not entirely known, our experts agree it’s a favorable choice. “The most common treatment for hirsutism in PCOS is a medication called spironolactone,” says Dr. Watson. “It works by blocking androgens like testosterone from binding to hair follicles, as well as reducing overall androgen production in the body. But spironolactone is not safe for use in women trying to conceive, and it may cause unpleasant side effects in some women.”
These side effects include dizziness, fatigue, breast pain and muscle cramps. And they occur in at least 10% of people who take spironolactone. But with spearmint tea, you can sip without worry. “Spearmint tea has very few side effects and is generally well tolerated,” notes Dr. Watson. The only known side effect is that it may cause heartburn or acid reflux, though this is rare. (Click through to discover how to get rid of heartburn fast.)
How to get the benefits for facial hair growth caused by PCOS
Interested in trying spearmint tea to help with abnormal facial hair growth caused by PCOS? Plan to drink it twice daily for at least two months. “Current studies have been conducted for up to 30 days, however it tends to take six weeks to three months to notice improvements in hair growth and acne,” notes Dr. Armstrong.
You can find spearmint tea for as little as $4 for 25 tea bags. That’s just 16 cents a cup. And if you’re following the study-proven dose of two cups daily, it’ll cost a mere $9.60 a month. For folks who enjoy bagged tea, Dr. Armstrong likes Traditional Medicinals Spearmint Tea (Buy from iHerb.com, $4.88). Though she notes that prefers the taste of loose leaf.
“Mountain Rose Herbs and Arbor Teas both carry loose leaf teas that are organic and taste delicious,” she says. “I would suggest infusing with a stainless steel infuser or getting a pot with one built in, which encourages you to drink more since it brews several cups at once.” One to try: Ikea Riklig Teapot (Buy from Ikea.com, $14.99).
Additional health benefits of spearmint tea
“Other symptoms of PCOS associated with high testosterone levels are acne, hair loss, and insulin resistance or blood sugar issues,” Dr. Armstrong says. “It is possible that spearmint tea may help with these other issues, but longer studies are needed.”
In addition to helping with PCOS, there are other health benefits of regularly drinking spearmint tea. Here are few of the study-proven perks:
It sharpens your thinking
One study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that spearmint improves working memory by 15% and spatial working memory in folks with age-related memory impairment. What’s more, the herb improved their ability to fall asleep. The researchers credit the polyphenols in spearmint, which ward off the breakdown of neurotransmitters associated with a healthy memory. (Need a quick mental boost? Click through to see how to get rid of brain fog fast.)
It steadies your blood sugar
According to research published in Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders: Drug Targets, scientists found that spearmint lowered blood glucose levels in diabetic folks as effectively as some diabetes medications (an effect that may also be helpful for women suffering from PCOS). (Click through to discover the sweetener that lowers blood sugar to speed weight loss.)
It keeps your blood pressure in check
When it comes to tamping down high blood pressure, research suggests spearmint can help. A preliminary study in the journal Fitoterapia suggests that carvone, the compound in spearmint that gives it its flavor, may behave in similar ways to a common type of blood pressure-lowering medication known as calcium channel blockers. (Click through to see how coconut water also lowers blood pressure.)
The bottom line: Spearmint tea is a safe, sugar-free, caffeine-free and tasty sip. Not only can it thwart abnormal facial hair growth caused by PCOS, it delivers other health-boosting perks, too. What’s not to love?
Read on to discover more health-boosting teas that can change your life:
- “Turmeric Tea Cured My Chronic Knee Pain — And Greatly Improved My Life!”
- Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Thrills The Eye and Dazzles The Tastebuds — and It’s Healthy!
- Study: This Tea is So Good at Easing Stress, Just Smelling It Works Better Than Meds
- The Delicious Sparkling Sweet Tea Juice That Can Heal Your Gut and Speed Weight Loss
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