7 Best Teas for PCOS (Hormone Health Benefits)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age. Some symptoms include irregular periods, weight gain, acne, and hirsutism (excessive hair growth). In this article, I’ll review the best teas for PCOS symptoms and hormone balance.
PCOS and Herbal Tea
Dealing with the symptoms of PCOS can be a struggle. But drinking certain types of tea may help address some of the issues you are facing.
This is because tea leaves naturally contain certain health-promoting and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are particularly rich in polyphenols – antioxidants that protect your body against “free radicals”. Free radicals are compounds that can be harmful if their levels get too high.
The benefits of many types of tea are backed by science, too.
Experts carried out a “meta-analysis” of studies into the effects of tea on PCOS symptoms. This means they reviewed multiple examples of available research to draw an overall conclusion about its benefits.
Their verdict was that tea may be helpful to women with PCOS in several different ways. Depending on the variety, it can help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, reduce body weight, and balance hormones. They also concluded that – in general – tea supplementation is a safe therapy to try.
Here are some of the best teas to consider adding to your drink rotation.
Best Tea for PCOS
1. Green Tea
Green tea may be the most well-studied – and most effective – type to drink in order to combat PCOS symptoms.
It comes from the same plant as black tea, but the leaves are preserved with steam or dry heat right after harvesting. This is different from black tea, where the leaves are left to oxidize before they are dried.
One of the ways in which green tea can help is by reducing insulin sensitivity. Also known as insulin resistance, this is a common feature in people suffering from PCOS where the body is able to make insulin, but unable to use it effectively. Interestingly, you may also wish to avoid alcohol with PCOS as it can make insulin resistance worse.
Ideally, your insulin levels should rise after you eat, stimulating your liver and muscles to turn the sugar from your blood into energy. At this point, your blood sugar levels should drop, along with your insulin levels.
But with insulin sensitivity, your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, prompting your pancreas to produce more and more.
As a result, your insulin levels become too high. This can cause your body to make too much testosterone and may have a negative effect on ovulation, making it difficult to conceive.
There is also a risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as your pancreas becomes unable to produce the amount of insulin needed to regulate your blood sugar levels.
The good news is that scientists have found green tea to be useful in treating both insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Another problem with insulin resistance is that it can contribute to weight gain. Separate research confirmed that overweight and obese women with PCOS saw a decrease in both insulin and testosterone levels after consuming green tea, and lost weight too.
Remember, though, that your lifestyle choices also have a big impact on insulin resistance. Regular, enjoyable exercise and a healthy diet along with the consumption of green tea can go a long way to reducing your symptoms. See my list of the best exercise for chronic illness.
There’s one other important way in which green tea can help if you have PCOS – and that’s by reducing inflammation.
Chronic (persistent) low-grade inflammation is very common in women with PCOS. Tests show that sufferers have higher levels of particular inflammatory markers than people without PCOS. But green tea is rich in polyphenols, especially one called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
Experts have found that EGCG has anti-inflammatory properties and say that it can improve the quality of life for people with inflammatory conditions.
Something to note, though, is that many of these studies involve green tea extract supplements, rather than cups of green tea. In fact, you’d need to drink quite a lot of green tea to meet the levels used in the research.
So – after speaking to your healthcare provider – you might want to consider taking green tea supplements in addition to enjoying the beverage as part of your daily routine.
2. Spearmint Tea
Like green tea, spearmint tea has been well-studied in terms of its effects on women with PCOS. And the results have been promising!
In one trial, 41 women were given either spearmint tea twice a day, or a herbal tea used as a placebo.
The results showed a significant decrease in testosterone levels after the consumption of spearmint tea, helping restore hormonal balance.
One of the most bothersome symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome for many women is hirsutism – excess hair growth in places you don’t want it.
Researchers studying women with this condition found that spearmint tea helped reduce testosterone levels while increasing both follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol (a type of estrogen).
This led them to conclude that spearmint could be used as an alternative to antiandrogenic (male hormone-blocking) treatment for cases of mild hirsutism. They did, however, acknowledge that further research is needed.
Spearmint tea – like green tea – can also help keep your blood sugar levels under control.
There are few human studies demonstrating this, but researchers found that blood sugar levels fell in rats with diabetes after consuming spearmint tea.
And if all those benefits weren’t enough, spearmint tea can also help relax you and alleviate stress.
This is significant because stress triggers the release of the hormone “cortisol” from our adrenal glands.
While this hormone is useful in difficult situations – helping us react quickly – too much of it puts us in a state of chronic stress.
Chronically high cortisol levels can create hormonal imbalances and make the symptoms of PCOS worse. It can also change your body composition, causing you to accumulate fat in your abdomen.
To make spearmint tea, you can buy teabags or simply steep dried spearmint leaves in hot water. You can then enjoy it hot or cold. You can also try peppermint tea, but most of the research is done specifically on spearmint tea.
3. Cinnamon Tea
Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. Not only does it taste wonderful, but it can help you get your PCOS symptoms under control.
First, it can help normalize your blood sugar levels so that your energy remains consistent throughout the day and you’re less likely to experience cravings.
Research has shown that it can improve insulin resistance, too.
In this study, women with PCOS who were given a daily dose of oral cinnamon experienced significant reductions in insulin resistance compared to those who received a placebo.
Cinnamon also promotes fat burning. This is thanks to the essential oil “cinnamaldehyde” it contains, which contributes to thermogenesis – a process where the body’s cells burn calories faster.
As a result, it has been shown to positively affect obesity, with researchers noting that it could be recommended as a weight loss supplement for obesity management.
What’s more, cinnamon tea can help regulate your menstrual cycle and may help put an end to irregular periods.
It can help decrease inflammation, too. That’s because it is packed with antioxidants, including polyphenol and cinnamaldehyde.
You can make cinnamon tea by infusing cinnamon sticks, powder, or tea bags in hot water, then combining it with green or black tea.
If you can get hold of it, I recommend using Ceylon cinnamon (sometimes known as “true” cinnamon). It is not as hot as cassia cinnamon (the type sold in most grocery stores) and has a deliciously mild, sweet flavor.
See my recipe for Lemon Cinnamon Tea which also has numerous health benefits.
4. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile has traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
But perhaps its most well-known use is as an aid to relaxation, significantly improving the quality of sleep.
Studies have shown that it can help reduce anxiety, which means that it might help alleviate some of the stress-related symptoms associated with PCOS.
It can be useful in many other ways, too.
There is also evidence that it can help normalize the menstrual cycles in women with PCOS.
Chamomile is widely available in tea bag form, or you can make it by brewing dried or fresh chamomile flowers.
5. Dandelion Root Tea
Dandelions may be considered weeds – but if you have any lurking in your garden you might want to think about putting them to good use!
Science shows they may help support the function of your liver, which is important when it comes to PCOS.
This is because non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – also known as fatty liver- is common in women with the condition. It is believed to be triggered by PCOS-related obesity, insulin resistance, and hormonal imbalance.
The liver’s main role in the body is to remove toxins from the blood supply. Excess fat in the liver can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and damage the liver itself.
Research carried out in Korea also showed that dandelion could act similarly to the weight loss drug Orlistat on the body, so it may be useful in preventing weight gain.
To make dandelion tea, you can use either the leaves or the roots. If you’re using dandelion from your garden, make sure that it is completely clean and free from all pesticides.
The leaves should be steeped in hot water for around 15 minutes, whereas the roots should be chopped and roasted for around 2 hours before brewing. They can then be steeped in hot water for around 10 minutes to get the beneficial effects.
6. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red raspberry leaf tea has a long history of use throughout menstruation, pregnancy, labor, and birth, with some people believing it can help relieve problems like painful periods and menstrual cramps.
Unfortunately, there are no solid scientific studies to back up these claims, and all the evidence is purely anecdotal.
However, there’s one way in which red raspberry leaf tea can help if you have PCOS – and that’s by controlling inflammation.
Red raspberry leaves are a rich source of antioxidants, including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and hydroxybenzoic acids.
All of these have been shown to protect against free radicals, preventing inflammation and its effects on the body.
You can buy raspberry leaves in both loose and bagged forms. It tastes a little like black tea and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
7. Licorice Root Tea
Licorice isn’t just used to flavor candies – it has been traditionally used as a medicine for many years.
Of the many compounds it contains, probably the most important is glycyrrhizin – the compound that gives licorice its distinctive flavor!
Glycyrrhizin can help control inflammation during PCOS, as it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It has also been shown to reduce testosterone levels, potentially making it useful in dealing with hirsutism.
Separate studies, meanwhile, indicate that it may support ovulation.
But licorice can have some serious side effects, especially if you are over 40 and have a history of high blood pressure and/or heart disease.
It can also interact with several medications and has been shown to cause an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which can compound the symptoms of PCOS.
For these reasons, I recommend talking to your healthcare provider before trying licorice root tea.
PCOS Tea FAQs
Many teas have properties that could potentially help manage certain symptoms of PCOS, such as inflammation, insulin resistance, and hormonal imbalances.
But it’s important not to rely on tea as a standalone treatment. Instead, you should try tea supplements in addition to making healthy lifestyle changes and following any treatments prescribed by your physician.
While most of these teas are generally safe for most people, excessive consumption of some teas, like licorice root tea, can lead to side effects like high blood pressure and low potassium levels. Each individual may also have unique responses or allergies to certain herbs, so it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before using them.
Yes, certain herbal teas can interact with other medications, including birth control and other hormone treatments commonly used in PCOS management.
Licorice can be particularly problematic and may interact with ACE inhibitors or diuretics for high blood pressure, blood thinners, corticosteroids, drugs for diabetes, and more. Speak to your healthcare provider before making these teas for PCOS part of your daily regimen.
The impact of these teas can vary widely from person to person and can depend on factors such as diet, exercise, overall health, and other treatments. Consistency is key when using natural remedies, and it may take several weeks or months to see an effect.
There are mixed opinions about whether or not it’s safe to drink caffeinated tea or coffee when you’re suffering from PCOS.
Some studies suggest caffeine can interfere with your hormonal balance and raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. But other research indicates that it can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and raise levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This can help reduce testosterone levels and ease PCOS symptoms.
I would recommend speaking to your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
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Best Teas for PCOS Conclusions
The teas mentioned in this article can all help improve the symptoms of PCOS in various ways, from preventing inflammation to restoring hormonal harmony. But it’s important to remember that their impact can vary widely from person to person. Ask your doctor about trying these teas and monitor your symptoms to see if you are getting the results you want.
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About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with nearly 10 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.