Background: Females with elevated androgens can suffer from hirsutism, the most common clinical manifestation of hyperandrogenemia. Hirsutism affects 5 to 10% of females and is defined as excessive hair growth in females in a male pattern, for example excess hair growth on the jaw, neck, chest or back. Other clinical manifestations of elevated androgens include alopecia, acne and ovulatory and menstrual irregularities. Spearmint tea has been shown to lower androgenic hormones in rats prompting the more recent studies involving humans. If spearmint tea is effective in treating hirsutism and elevated androgens it may have the potential to become a first-line, low risk, non-pharmaceutical treatment option.
Methods: An exhaustive search was conducted using MEDLINE-Ovid, Web of Science, CINAHL and Google Scholar using the keywords hirsutism, spearmint tea (mentha spicata) and androgens. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach was used to assess the quality of the relevant articles. A search was conducted of the National Institute of Health clinical trials website and no current trials related to anti-androgenic effects of spearmint tea were noted.
Results: The initial search resulted in 4 articles for analysis. Two articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. The first study revealed a decrease in free testosterone and an increase in luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone over a 5-day period of drinking spearmint tea. Hirsutism was not scored at the end of the trial. The second study, a randomized controlled trial, demonstrated a decrease in free testosterone and total testosterone and an increase in luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone over a 30-day period of drinking spearmint tea. The study demonstrated a reduction in the self-reported scoring for hirsutism but noted no significant change in the more objective Ferriman-Gallwey score.
Conclusion: Spearmint tea may be useful in lowering androgenic hormones for female patients suffering from the effects of hirsutism and other symptoms associated with elevated androgens. In order to see benefits in the hirsute patient, it is likely that longer treatment time is necessary as well as extended follow up time with patients to monitor symptomatic improvement.
Keywords: Hirsutism, spearmint tea, androgens
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