While spearmint is a delicious addition to foods and beverages, new research has shown it’s also a powerful anti-androgen. For men with Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB), this may prove to be a new and effective natural hair loss treatment.
In this article, I’m going to explain spearmint’s role in the treatment of hair loss. This will include a look at the most recent research on the subject, as well as ways you can add it into your hair care routine.
Can Spearmint Tea Be Used to Treat Hair Loss?
While research on the subject is still new, there are indications that the use of a spearmint supplement can treat hair loss caused by Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA).
How Does It Work?
The link between spearmint and hair loss was actually made when spearmint showed to be an effective treatment for excessive hair growth in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) patients.
PCOS is a condition in women that leads to elevated androgen levels – namely, free testosterone. As a result, those affected suffer from cosmetic and psychological effects.
When spearmint was taken as a supplement, however, free testosterone levels were significantly decreased.
These results were also seen in an earlier study – performed in 2007 – in a similar patient grouping:
But, what exactly does this have to do with hair loss?
Well PCOS has a very similar endocrinological profile to androgenic alopecia. Both have elevated androgens which cause increased bodily hair (hirsuitism) and decreased scalp hair. In fact androgenic alopecia has been termed by some people as male PCOS.
In men suffering from AGA, the cause is believed to be a sensitivity to the androgen hormone DHT. This hormone is produced from the interaction between free testosterone and 5-alpha-reductase (an enzyme).
If spearmint tea can reduce free testosterone levels, there would be less DHT produced.
Is There Scientific Evidence?
At this time, the scientific evidence surrounding the use of spearmint as an anti-androgen is in regards to its effect on women.
However, anti-androgens in the treatment of AGA has been repeatedly proven over the years.
There are a variety of treatments – natural and not – that are effective at treating hair loss because of their anti-androgen activities. These include ketoconazole, RU58841, finasteride, rosemary oil, and stinging nettle.
Are There Any Known Side Effects?
The risk of side effects are fairly minimal, both when taken orally or applied to the scalp.
As a safety precaution, it’s best to test spearmint oil on your wrist before applying to the scalp. It is possible to suffer from an allergic skin reaction from certain components within spearmint, such as carvone.
In women or who are pregnant or nursing, it’s important to speak with your physician before supplementation. Internal supplementation may cause harm to the fetus, and whether it transfer through breast milk is still unknown.
As with any supplement, it is possible to suffer from a life threatening allergic reaction. Symptoms include: rash, hives, nausea/vomiting, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face. If you experience such a reaction, stop use and seek medical attention immediately.
How to Add Spearmint to Your Hair Care Routine
As current research indicates, supplementation with spearmint is best taken orally. However, there are benefits to external use which I’ll get into later.
1. Drink It As a Tea
In the majority of studies done on spearmint’s effects, the participants are instructed to take the supplement in the form of twice daily tea.
You can purchase spearmint tea at the shop, but the most potent tea will be one you make at home.
All you need is a tea diffuser, or a kettle and loose leaf spearmint leaves.
Tea Diffuser Method
Add spearmint leaves to your diffuser. Place in mug, and pour boiling water over diffuser.
Steep for at least 5 minutes. To make a stronger cup of tea, keep the diffuser in while you drink.
Add a generous handful of loose leaf spearmint to a mug.
Boil one cup of hot water in a kettle, and pour over the tea leaves. You can steep the leaves for as long as you like, though I recommend a minimum of 5 minutes. Leave them in longer for a stronger flavor.
2. Take It As a Supplement
A quicker way to add spearmint into your diet is in the form of a capsule supplement.
Such supplements contain concentrated doses of spearmint, and this means you can take one or two a day to receive the same benefits as a few cups of tea.
The supplement can be taken with or without food. However, if you experience any mild side effects as a result of supplementation, taking them with food can help to reduce them.
3. Apply It to Your Scalp
As mentioned above, spearmint oil can be applied topically with good results.
In fact, not only will it act as an anti-androgen, but it can also stimulate blood circulation (and, therefore, hair growth).
Keep in mind, when applying essential oil to your scalp you must dilute it properly. Undiluted essential oil can cause severe skin irritation and even chemical burn.
To dilute, I recommend 1 drop of essential oil for every 5mL of carrier oil (such as olive, canola, almond, or coconut).
To apply to scalp, add 10 drops of spearmint oil to 3 ½ tablespoons of carrier oil. Mix the combination well, and then apply directly with your fingers.
Massage the mixture into your scalp using small, circular motions. Avoid using your nails.
Leave in for 10 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
As research continues, it’s becoming more obvious that many natural methods are effective in the treatment of hair loss. Spearmint is one, and its anti-androgen properties make it a possible treatment if you have MPB.
Only with continued research will we be able to find out its true worth as an AGA treatment. However, it doesn’t hurt to experiment with its use to see how you respond to its supplementation.