Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal conditon in females, that has several causes. Despite popular belief, women can still have PCOS even with the absence of polycystic ovarians on ultrasound. In fact, serum blood testing including a hormonal work-up may give us more insight as to what is actully going on – whether there is concern with insulin and blood glucose, lack of ovulation post-oral birth control pill, an inflammatry source, or excess of the male-based androgen hormones, which includes types of testosterone. The latter is what spearmint tea has shown to be useful in, by way of reducing free testosterone.
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One of the original studies showed women drinking one cup of spearmint tea twice daily for 5 days during the first half of their cycle, known as the follicular phase, showed siginicant decreases in free testosterone. The main symptom women with high testosterone experience is unwanted hair growth on the face, back and chest, referred to as hirsutism. This unpleasent symptom of unwanted hair growth can give us more direction of serum blood testing from a fertility perspective, but also that of overal hormonal wellness.
It is important to have serum blood levels run, to rule out what we think might be the source of PCOS. If excess androgens are suspected, we typically run the different breakdown of androgens on blood work, to ensure the appropriate treatment is being implemented.
Aside from spearmint tea, there are other ‘anti-androgen’ natural botanicals that have been shown to be benefitical, depending on what shows up on blood work. Those are as follows;
C a m e l l i a s i n e n s i s – G r e e n T e a
Among several health benefits, green tea contains epigallactehins, thought to inhibit the conversion of testosterone into DHT, the more potent source of testosterone.
G a n o d e r m a l u c i d u m – R e i s h i
Reishi was shown to have the ability to reduce levels of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, also preventing this testosterone to DHT conversion.
G l y c y r r h i z a g l a b r a – L i c o r i c e
This herb in tincture or encapsulated form has been shown to decrease total testosterone, however most of the benefit might be from its estrogen-mimicking properties. Isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen, are present making licorice helpful for menopausal symptoms.
P a e o n i a l a c t i f l o r a – W h i t e P e o n y
This herb is thought to be benefitical for enhancing an enzyme responsible for concerting testosterone into estrogen, as well as inhibiting the production of testosterone.
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Prior to starting any herbal or natural supplement, it is advisable to have serum blood work tested through a licensed healthcare provider, to ensure the safe and effective implantation of treatment.
As always, yours in health,
Dr. Alison Gottschalk, ND
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Grant P, Dworakowska D. Tea and Diabetes: the laboratory and the real world. In: Preedy V, editor. Tea in Health & Disease Prevention. 1st ed. Elsevier Academic Press; 2012
Grant P, Ramasamy S. An update on plant derived anti-androgens. Endocrinology metabolism. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2012;10(2):497-502.
Tamir S, Eizenberg M, Somjen D, Izrael S, Vaya J. Estrogen-like activity of glabrene and other constituents isolated from licorice root. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2001;78(3):291-8.
Takeuchi T, Nishii O, Okamura T, Yaginuma T. Effect of paeoniflorin, glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetic acid on ovarian androgen production. Am J Chin Med. 1991;19(1):73-8.