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No, You Shouldn’t Drink Spearmint Tea for Hormonal Acne

Many people are talking about using peppermint and spearmint to treat cystic and hormonal acne.

The question is – does it really work?

Surprisingly, spearmint and peppermint are more than just a fad – scientific studies show that both spearmint and peppermint tea oil lead to significantly lower levels of testosterone, a key component in hormonal acne. They also can help heal the gut, lower insulin levels, and decrease stress.

Still, testosterone is only one component of hormonal acne, and some people might find that peppermint and spearmint actually lead to decreased energy, mood, and libido.

While we’re quick to assume that sex hormones are the only reason people get acne, the truth is that dietary-driven hormones like insulin and IGF-1 have much more to do with adult acne than we’d like to think.

In this article, we’ll cover how spearmint and peppermint can help treat some hormonal acne in women, why men should think twice about using mint tea, and why decreasing sex hormones is the wrong approach to take when it comes to beating hormonal acne.

How Does Spearmint and Peppermint Help Treat Some (but Not All) Hormonal Acne?

One of many hormones that are responsible for acne is a hormone known as DHT.

DHT is a specific male sex hormone (that is also found in women, in lower amounts) that can be responsible for our body producing too much sebum oil. Too much sebum oil can lead to clogged pores, which can lead to an acne infection and inflammation (a bright, red, protruding pimple).

The key thing to realize here is that these things only happen if our body is ill-equipped to handle this excess sebum oil. Sebum oil is a natural, necessary, healthy layer of protection for our skin.

If we have enough antioxidants and oxidative stress resistance, sebum oil won’t become infected or oxidized. If we have a properly functioning immune system, there won’t be a massive inflammatory response that leads to a pimple. 

If these things are not the case, then excess sebum oil becomes an issue and DHT is problematic.

Both spearmint and peppermint tea have been shown to significantly decrease testosterone levels.  This includes lower levels of DHT, the specific male sex hormone responsible for our body’s producing too much sebum oil. Excess sebum oil can clog pores, which again, as we said, may lead to acne.

In this regard, spearmint, peppermint tea, and oil can help treat hormonal acne. Still, high testosterone and DHT levels are only one component of hormonal acne – it’s not the whole picture. 

More sebum oil doesn’t necessarily mean more acne. High testosterone doesn’t necessarily mean more acne, either. Depending on your sex, there are other, arguably more important dietary-driven hormones to tackle first.

Why “Hormonal Acne” Is More Than Just Sex Hormones

Sex hormones naturally rise during puberty. In males and females, levels of DHT will be at their height, which is a large part of why acne is so common among teenagers.

Still, it begs the question – why is acne still so common in the United States even after puberty? 

In my book Unmasking Acne, I reference two studies that drive this point home:

More than half the individuals with acne during puberty continue to have acne after puberty, and many people don’t even start developing acne until adulthood (Bhate, 2007). Even after sex hormone levels have died down, we still find ourselves with acne. Furthermore, despite rates of acne being higher than ever before, testosterone levels are actually lower than they were in previous decades (Kalvaitis, 2013).

Furthermore, why do certain cultures, like the Ache, Kitavan, and Sapara, have rates of acne for adolescents near zero percent, despite the fact that their teenagers still go through puberty, still have fluctuating sex hormones, and still have high levels of DHT?

It’s because sex hormones aren’t the only or even the main, component in hormonal acne – dietary hormones, like insulin, IGF-1, and IGFBP-3 are.

I discuss this in much greater detail in Unmasking Acne, but the number one culprit of adult hormonal acne is not DHT, but insulin.

While DHT increases the amount of sebum oil on the skin, which simply makes someone more suspectable to acne, insulin (and the hormones that accompany it, including IGF-1, IGFBP-3, and IL-1) directly triggers the root causes of acne:

  • IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 blocks pores
  • IGF-1 increases oil production
  • IL-1 and IGF-1 promotes inflammation

While high levels of DHT are certainly not great for acne, it is far from being the most important hormone when it comes to acne. If it were, we wouldn’t see such staggering rates of adult acne after puberty.

Still, lowering DHT in women can be an effective strategy for mitigating the risk of hormonal acne, as we’ll discuss shortly. Men, however, will almost certainly want to avoid excessive consumption of mint tea to lower DHT.

Why Men May Want To Avoid Excessive Mint Tea Consumption

If you’re a man, you might want to think twice about treating hormonal ance by decreasing testosterone levels.

Testosterone is crucial for your well-being. A healthy amount of testosterone is needed for energy, mood, and libido. A lack of testosterone can lead to anxiety, lethargy, and a lack of sex drive.

Trust me, as a guy who has tried to treat hormonal acne by lowering testosterone, I can confidently say that it’s not worth it, especially when there are more important hormones, like insulin, to tackle first.

Having high testosterone doesn’t doom you to hormonal acne – there are plenty of other ways to decrease acne-causing hormones and actually feel better on a day-to-day basis.

Using Mint Tea for Acne and PCOS

Both men and women need some testosterone to function, but unlike men, women need significantly less to function optimally

In fact, conditions where women produce too much testosterone, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), tend to be linked to higher rates of acne.

The best way to naturally lower testosterone without birth control or hormonal therapy is with a healthy diet. Low-carb diets have been shown to be particularly effective at treating hormonal acne.

Still, drinking mint tea is a good strategy for lowering testosterone and DHT levels in women.

Start out by drinking a cup or two of high-quality, organic spearmint or peppermint tea per day. It’ll probably take some time to see results, but if you think you have hormonal acne due to high testosterone levels, it’s definitely worth a shot.

Other Benefits of Mint for Acne

In addition to lowering testosterone levels, both peppermint and spearmint tea and oil have a broad range of other benefits for acne-prone skin, including antioxidants, insulin-blunting effects, and stress-relieving compounds. 

Both peppermint and spearmint tea can be used in acne treatment and can be added to your skincare routines.

Rich in Antioxidants

Both spearmint and peppermint leaves contain several types of antioxidants.

Antioxidants help treat and counteract acne by preventing sebum oil from oxidizing (going rancid) and skin cells from becoming damaged. 

Environmental factors like air pollution, smoking, free radicals, and overexposure to UV sun rays are more likely to cause acne without enough antioxidants.

While spearmint and peppermint herbal teas do not contain EGCG, a particularly powerful antioxidant found in black, green, white, and oolong tea, they do contain vitamin C, rosmarinic acid, and limonene. They have been shown to fight off skin-damaging free radicals.

May Lower Insulin Levels

If you’ve checked out our guide to hormonal acne, you’ll probably remember that insulin, not testosterone, is the biggest hormone behind adult acne.

When the body releases too much insulin, usually due to eating too many carbs, sugar, or dairy, a cascade of acne-causing hormones and compounds gets released. 

Together, these compounds lead to the overproduction of skin cells and sebum oil, too many dead skin cells that won’t shed properly, and inflammation. All of these factors play a part in creating acne.

One study found that insulin levels in diabetic rats were significantly lower when they were supplemented with spearmint. The study also found that spearmint had little effect on insulin for healthy rats, so take this research with a grain of salt.

May Decrease Stress

One study found that spearmint may reduce stress levels in rats.

Stress is a major contributor to acne. When you become stressed out, cortisol, a stress hormone, is released. 

Constantly elevated levels of cortisol can lead to inflammation, high insulin levels, and a damaged digestive system. That means that stress touches just about every root cause of acne.

Improved Sleep

Getting enough sleep is extremely helpful for people with acne-prone skin. Just like stress, sleep deprivation can lead to inflammatory and hormonal acne by increasing insulin and cortisol levels.

Unlike other types of tea, herbal spearmint and peppermint tea don’t have caffeine, which means they won’t disrupt your sleep. One study even found that sleep improved in rats after supplementing with spearmint tea.

Improved Digestive System

A healthy gut means healthy skin.

Digestive problems, whether it’s an unbalanced gut microbiome, a leaky gut, or a bacterial overgrowth, can lead to acne by triggering inflammation and preventing your body from absorbing crucial skin-clearing nutrients.

Studies have found that spearmint oil may improve the overall health of the digestive system and treat symptoms of IBS.

Potential Risks of Mint Tea

In excessive doses, the menthol in peppermint might have negative side effects. While it is impossible to overdose on menthol by drinking peppermint tea, it is not advised for persons with certain health concerns.

Heart Burn

Peppermint can aid digestion and relieve stomach pain, but it can also aggravate acid reflux. Peppermint should be avoided if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Kidney Stones

Although peppermint may aid in kidney function, it is not suggested for patients with kidney stones.

Best Mint Tea for Acne

Peppermint and spearmint tea have roughly the same benefits for hormonal acne, mainly because they significantly lower testosterone levels and DHT. This leads to less sebum oil on the skin and fewer clogged pores. 

Mint tea may also help reduce insulin levels, decrease stress, improve the digestive system, and protect the skin. Still, these benefits aren’t as clear-cut as the testosterone-decreasing effects.

Again, men might think twice about consuming high quantities of mint tea, as low testosterone can lead to decreased energy, libido, and mood.

Not all mint teas are created equal. Many mint teas contain concentrated mint flavorings without the actual herbs. This isn’t going to do you any good when it comes to fighting hormonal acne.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Spearmint Tea and Organic Peppermint Tea are solid choices – they contain only organic mint, no added sweeteners, oils, or caffeine, and are fair-trade certified.

Reddit Users Discuss Using Spearmint Tea To Treat Hormonal Acne

During the course of my research for this article, I came across several posts on Reddit discussing the skin benefits of spearmint tea. I always find it interesting to read about others’ self-experimentation and want to share a few snippets here that I found particularly interesting. What I read on Reddit confirmed that spearmint tea is frequently used by women dealing with PCOS. 

One Redditor said, “Personally, I’ve been drinking spearmint for about 2 months after reading this study because I was finding after getting the Mirena IUD, I was breaking out with cystic acne like never before! The spearmint stopped me from getting these large cystic acne spots and I haven’t had any breakouts as bad as the first month of having my IUD.”

There were also some fairly intense discussions about which brand of spearmint tea is best for treating hormonal acne. In my personal opinion the brand does not matter very much.

This Redditor said, “I’ve been drinking spearmint tea for almost a year now and, if you’re experiencing hormonal breakouts, I think it’s worth considering. I had typical hormonal breakouts: under-the-skin bumps on the chin that took about 1.5-2 weeks to disappear. I haven’t had chin breakouts since I’ve started drinking 1 cup of spearmint tea each day. I’ve only ever used Traditional Medicinals brand, so I can’t comment on whether there are any differences between brands.”

What particularly stuck out to me was the various methods of consuming spearmint. Some people like drinking tea, while others find more success for their skin by taking a pill.

“Yo I take spearmint pills, and, no joke- I cannot go without them or my skin erupts.”

None of this is medical advice, and you should always consult a doctor before altering your hormone levels based on something you read on Reddit

Putting It All Together: Should You Take Mint Tea for Hormonal Acne?

Peppermint and spearmint tea and oil are both effective at decreasing testosterone levels. High testosterone and DHT can lead to hormonal acne. 

Unfortunately, men need healthy levels of testosterone and DHT to function, so whether or not you should consume mint tea depends on your particular situation.

  • Men should think twice about consuming mint tea. Yes, it might help with hormonal acne, but it’ll likely lead to decreased energy, mood, and libido. If you simply like drinking tea and don’t want your testosterone lowered look into drinking basil and matcha tea. Both are filled with antioxidants and will not interfere with testosterone production.
  • Women, especially those with high testosterone or PCOS, may want to consider drinking a cup or two of spearmint or peppermint tea per day in order to naturally lower testosterone levels

Overall, both men and women should focus on eating an acne-free diet before implementing mint tea or oil into their routine. While high testosterone levels can cause hormonal acne, and drinking mint tea can help lower testosterone, dietary-driven hormones, like insulin and IGF-1, are usually more problematic when it comes to adult acne.

If you’re looking for a good guide to eating a skin-clearing diet, check out the GoodGlow Diet Blueprint. It has everything you need to get started, all on one page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can Peppermint Tea Help Acne?

A: Peppermint tea has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the skin. Additionally, peppermint tea can lower DHT and testosterone levels which can cause hormonal acne in some women.

Q: Do Mint Leaves Help Cystic Acne?

Mint leaves are anti-inflammatory and possess several anti-bacterial properties. Mashing mint leaves and water into a paste and applying it to acne can help reduce inflammation and scarring from previous breakouts.

Q: How Long Does Spearmint Tea Take To Clear Acne?

There are several factors that determine how quickly spearmint tea can clear your acne including your diet, exercise, sleep, and the amount of spearmint tea you consume. Most people notice improvement within 60 days of daily use.

Q: Is Spearmint Tea Good for Your Skin?

Yes, spearmint tea is antibacterial and is filled with antioxidants. Spearmint tea can be both consumed and used as a topical agent to soothe inflamed skin.

Q: Who Shouldn’t Drink Spearmint Tea?

A: While spearmint tea is helpful for relieving digestive troubles, persons suffering from GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) should avoid it. This is due to the fact that spearmint has a relaxing impact on the esophagus, which can produce acid reflux and heartburn.

Q: Are There Side Effects to Spearmint Tea?

A: Aside from lowered libido, mood, and energy in men, spearmint tea may also worsen kidney diseases.

Sources:

“Spearmint Herbal Tea Has Significant Anti-androgen Effects in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. A Randomized Controlled Trial – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 Feb. 2010, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19585478/

“The Link Between Acne and Testosterone | UPMC HealthBeat.” UPMC HealthBeat, 9 Oct. 2016, https://share.upmc.com/2016/10/testosterone-and-acne/

“The Androgen Control of Sebum Production. Studies of Subjects With Dihydrotestosterone Deficiency and Complete Androgen Insensitivity – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 Feb. 1993, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8381804/

“Effects of Peppermint Teas on Plasma Testosterone, Follicle-stimulating Hormone, and Luteinizing Hormone Levels and Testicular Tissue in Rats – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 Aug. 2004, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15302514/

“Acne in Adolescents – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 Dec. 2017, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29464224/

Wood, Sam. “Why Carbs, Sugar, and Insulin Cause Acne – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 7 Feb. 2021, https://goodglow.co/do-carbs-cause-acne

Wood, Sam. “Hormonal Acne Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 7 Feb. 2021, https://goodglow.co/ultimate-guide-to-hormonal-acne-symptoms-root-causes-treatment

“Testosterone in Women–the Clinical Significance – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 Dec. 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26358173/

Wood, Sam. “Can The Ketogenic Diet Cure Acne? (+11 Mistakes to Avoid for Clear Skin).” GoodGlow, 27 Feb. 2021, https://goodglow.co/10-reasons-for-acne-ketogenic-diet

Wood, Sam. “Hormonal Acne Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 7 Feb. 2021, https://goodglow.co/ultimate-guide-to-hormonal-acne-symptoms-root-causes-treatment

“Effect of Spearmint (Mentha Spicata Labiatae) Teas on Androgen Levels in Women With Hirsutism – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 May 2007, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17310494/

Wood, Sam. “Can Drinking Matcha Tea Help Get Rid of Acne? – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 2 June 2018, https://goodglow.co/matcha-tea-for-acne

Wood, Sam. “https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9131965/.” GoodGlow, 17 Mar. 2021, https://goodglow.co/can-tea-help-get-rid-of-acne-best-teas-for-acne

Wood, Sam. “Why Carbs, Sugar, and Insulin Cause Acne – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 7 Feb. 2021, https://goodglow.co/do-carbs-cause-acne

Wood, Sam. “Does Stress Cause Acne? (Hint: Less Stress Is Better) – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 22 June 2021, https://goodglow.co/stress-acne

“Tea Enhances Insulin Activity – PubMed.” PubMed, 20 Nov. 2002, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12428980/

Wilson, Ashley. “Does Basil Tea Help Fight Acne Breakouts? (Potentially…)- GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 28 Feb. 2022, https://goodglow.co/basil-tea-for-acne

Wood, Sam. “https://goodglow.co/testosterone-cause-acne.” GoodGlow, 2 June 2018, https://goodglow.co/matcha-tea-for-acne

Need more help? Ask our team!

I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision.

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