Drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day might help treat women with an unsightly condition that causes them to grow excess hair on the face, breasts and stomach, Turkish researchers report.
The tea works by lowering the levels of circulating male hormones in these women, the scientists claim in the current online issue of Phytotherapy Research.
But other experts feel the findings are far-fetched.
This is absurd
"This is absurd," said Khursheed Navder, an associate professor of nutrition and food science at Hunter College in New York City. "I completely think it is very preliminary, and you need major randomised trials. It's nothing to get thrilled about."
Hirsutism is a condition that can occur in both men and women but, for obvious reasons, it is more of a cosmetic concern in women. The hair growth is a result of unnaturally high levels of androgens.
"Current therapies use either oral contraceptives to suppress androgen production or medications such as spironolactone that prevent the body responding to androgen, but this study shows that spearmint could be a good natural alternative for women who have mild symptoms," researcher Mehmet Numan Tamer said in a statement. The study was conducted at Suleyman Demirel University in Isparta, Turkey.
Spearmint, which grows naturally near Isparta, has been widely used for indigestion, nausea and vomiting, as well as for the common cold, cough, sinusitis, fever and bronchitis.
"Spearmint has been used as an herb for a long time now," confirmed Navder. "These are all folk remedies."
May cut testosterone levels
The Turkish researchers thought that spearmint might be linked with reports of diminished libido in townsmen (presumably because of its effects on androgen levels). In one previous rat study, spearmint reduced testosterone levels.
For this study, 21 women with hirsutism drank two cups of herbal spearmint tea for five days at a certain time in their menstrual cycle.
All women showed a decrease in free testosterone (circulating hormone not bound to other molecules) and an increase in several different "female" hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone and oestrogen.
There was no significant decrease in total testosterone levels; it was unclear if there was any change in amount of excess hair growth.
Although the amounts of spearmint used in this study are not generally toxic, the herb can be harmful if taken in larger amounts. – (HealthDayNews)
Gentlemen prefer hairy women