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Are you looking for a holistic way to manage PCOS?
We totally understand. Medicine has its place, but there are several plants that can also play a supportive role in our health.
If you’re interested in learning some gentle ways to manage your PCOS, you’re in the right place!
In this article we will walk you through what research shows for the best herbal teas PCOS and specifically how they target each symptom.
Let’s get started!
PCOS Teas: What Does Research Show?
Spearmint Tea for PCOS
Spearmint tea may help reduce hirsutism in women with PCOS.
One study showed that women with hirsutism (excessive hair growth on their face and/or body) who drank one cup of spearmint tea twice per day during the follicular phase (the period of time from the start of your period until ovulation) of their menstrual cycle saw an increase in luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and estradiol.
They also saw a decrease in free testosterone, although there were no significant changes in total testosterone. While more research needs to be conducted, spearmint tea may help reduce mild hirsutism in women with PCOS.1
PCOS Green Tea
Green tea may improve insulin resistance and androgen (“male hormone”) levels.
A study found that women with PCOS who drank green tea daily for 12 weeks saw a decrease in fasting insulin levels and free testosterone levels.2
Another study in rats showed a decrease in insulin resistance after supplementation with green tea extract.3
However, other studies did not see improvement in these markers.4
Green tea is safe to consume regularly, but more than 8 cups per day has been tied to rare cases of liver disease. 5, 6
While more research needs to be done, there is some evidence that moderate amounts of green tea may help women with PCOS.
Turmeric for PCOS
Turmeric made the list because it is also potentially one of the best herbal teas for PCOS.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been seen to help balance PCOS hormones in some randomized control trials.7
Vitex and PCOS
Dried chasteberry, also known as Vitex agnus-castus, is a popular natural remedy used to support reproductive health.
A randomized double blind study compared the effects of vitex vs low dose birth control pills on women with PCOS.
Researchers found that the vitex was just as effective as low dose oral contraceptives for improving menstrual cycle regulation and DHEA-S (an androgen hormone that often contributes to PCOS). Vitex was not seen to help prolactin or testosterone levels.8
Besides this study, human studies on the effect of vitex for PCOS is limited. More research needs to be done to see if chasteberry may be a good option to help manage PCOS.
The most common side effects from vitex studies were nausea and headache.9
It is thought that vitex may function by lowering prolactin levels, which is a hormone that affects fertility and breastfeeding. If you are pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant, talk with your provider before starting vitex or any other supplements.10
Cinnamon Tea for PCOS
Hormone Balance and Cinnamon
Cinnamon may help normalize menstrual cycles if used for at least 6 months. 11
This is likely due to the fact that cinnamon may help balance reproductive hormones. Luteinizing hormone (LH) is the hormone that signals for your ovaries to release an egg.
One study showed that cinnamon, in combination with licorice, white peony, and St. John’s wort decreased luteinizing hormone (LH) in women with PCOS. 12
However, this herbal blend did not have an impact on follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or testosterone levels.
Another study supports these findings. Researchers found that women with PCOS who take cinnamon in combination with white peony alone had decreased luteinizing hormone. 13
About half of women taking this blend saw improvements in menstrual cycle regularity.
It is important to note that it can be difficult to identify which plant(s) contributed to the benefits when they are used in an herbal blend. But these findings are promising that herbal compounds may help balance hormones.
This study showed that cinnamon may help improve menstrual cycle regularity, but did not see any changes in insulin resistance or androgen levels. 14
Cinnamon and Blood Sugar Balance
Cinnamon may also help balance your blood sugars.
One way it may help blood sugars is by decreasing fasting insulin levels. 12, 15, 16
Incorporating cinnamon may also help improve insulin sensitivity. There is some evidence that that taking cinnamon for 8 weeks may also help fasting blood sugars, but another study did not see this finding. 16, 17, 12
To learn more about blood sugar balance with PCOS, check out our article about fruit and insulin resistance.
Cinnamon and Cholesterol
Cinnamon may help lower cholesterol.
This study found that women with PCOS who took cinnamon for 12 weeks had decreased LDL cholesterol, which is traditionally known as “bad” cholesterol. 17, 18
Cinnamon may also help lower triglycerides and increase HDL (“good cholesterol”). 17, 18
Marjoram tea for PCOS
A small study showed that women with PCOS who drank marjoram tea twice per day for one month saw a decrease in fasting insulin levels and DHEA-S, which is an androgen or “male” hormone that, when elevated, can contribute to PCOS symptoms.19
While more research needs to be conducted, marjoram tea could help balance PCOS hormones.
Chamomile tea for PCOS
Research on chamomile tea for PCOS is limited, but a small study showed that chamomile tea may help decrease the following:
- hemoglobin A1c (average blood sugar over 2-3 months)
- insulin resistance
- total cholesterol
- LDL (“bad cholesterol”) 20
More studies need to be conducted to confirm these findings.
One of the better known qualities of chamomile tea is that it may help improve sleep quality. 21
Sleep is incredibly important for women with PCOS. We know that not getting enough sleep can increase cortisol levels.
Anxiety and depression are also common in people with PCOS, so adequate sleep may be one way to help improve symptoms.
Chamomile tea may play a supportive role in helping to improve sleep among women with PCOS.
Licorice tea for PCOS
Licorice root may help reduce testosterone levels in women with PCOS. 22
One study showed that women who took 3.5 grams of licorice, which is about 2 bags of licorice tea, every day for two weeks saw a decrease in total testosterone levels.
It is important to note that the women took the licorice during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. This is the time between ovulation and the start of your period.
With reduced testosterone levels, it is possible that licorice tea could help other PCOS symptoms, such as excess face and body hair.
Note, licorice may raise blood pressure and affect potassium levels. Always talk to your doctor before starting new supplements, including regular use of herbal teas.
Fenugreek tea for PCOS
Fenugreek tea may help reduce polycystic ovaries and improve hormone balance in women with PCOS.
One study showed that women with PCOS who took fenugreek for 3 months showed improvement in polycystic ovaries and improved levels of LH and FSH (female reproductive hormones).
They found that by the end of their treatment with fenugreek, 71% of these women reported having menstrual cycles and 12% were able to get pregnant. 23
Note: Fenugreek is not safe during pregnancy due to increased risk for birth defects. 24
How to Prepare Teas
Ideally, we want to buy loose leaf tea for the best quality.
Another advantage of loose leaf tea is that you can start with a small amount to try it out (because no one wants to be stuck with a whole box of tea bags that you can’t use).
But if you already have tea bags at home, that will work, too!
- Boil your water and pour over herbs. We typically want 1 cup of boiling water to 1 tablespoon of herbs.
- Cover and steep for about 10 minutes. The longer you steep it, the stronger the tea will be. We recommend starting with a weaker tea the first couple of times to see how your body responds.
- Add any flavor additions (see below).
- Strain your tea and enjoy!
Can I sweeten my tea?
Sure! You do you.
One thing we want to be mindful of is that many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, meaning that your cells have a harder time pulling sugar from your blood to use for energy.
If you have insulin resistance, consider using a sweetener that does not affect blood sugar.
Stevia is a leaf that can be added to tea for sweetness and will not raise your blood sugar.
Licorice root, which may have its own benefits on PCOS, is naturally sweet and may also be added to teas. It also will not raise your blood sugar.
You can purchase loose leaf stevia or licorice root to mix in with the other ingredients of your PCOS tea.
A squeeze of lemon also goes a long way for adding flavor to your tea and will have minimal impact on blood sugar.
Stevia, licorice root, lemon = does not raise blood sugar
Sugar, honey, coconut sugar, sugar in the raw, maple syrup = does raise blood sugar
Final Thoughts on PCOS Teas
Some research supports the use of certain herbs for PCOS. Some of the best herbal teas for PCOS include:
- Spearmint tea
- Green tea
- Turmeric tea
- Vitex (chasteberry) tea
- Cinnamon tea
- Marjoram tea
- Chamomile tea
- Licorice tea
While more research is needed to further examine the potential health effects, a few studies have supported the use of these PCOS teas.
The plants discussed in this article are best bought as loose leaf teas, steeped in boiling water, and sweetened with a plant-based sugar free sweetener.
Everyone’s body is different, so what works for your friend with PCOS may not work for you.
And that’s okay!
There are many, many different tips and tricks to help manage your PCOS.
Interested in learning more? Check out these articles about NAC supplementation for PCOS or PCOS Fruits or schedule an appointment with me to create an individualized PCOS nutrition plan.
*Note: Just because these plants are found in nature does not mean that they are safe for everyone. Some plants and herbs cause side effects and may interact with medications or other health conditions. Please talk to your doctor before starting new supplements, including the regular use of herbal teas.