For PCOS, green tea extract lowers fasting insulin and testosterone levels, which are two important aspects of this disorder. Green tea boosts a protein in the blood called sex-hormone binding globulin, which can take up excess testosterone; thus helping with facial hair, acne, menstrual disturbances, and also encouraging weight loss, as well as stabilizing fasting insulin levels.
Although green tea has many healthful actions, in the context of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a major benefit is improving insulin sensitivity as insulin resistance is a key factor in this hormonal condition. Green tea is produced from the leaves and buds of Camellia sinensis, and is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. For medicinal use however, a standardized concentrate is far more potent.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder among women aged 18 to 44 and is complicated to resolve as it has many contributing factors and symptoms, including impaired glucose metabolism, increased insulin levels, acne, menstrual problems and pain, ovarian cysts, reduced fertility, elevated androgens such as testosterone, and abnormal triglycerides and cholesterol. PCOS causes widespread disruption of a woman’s endocrine system including female and testosterone hormones, and sugar and fat regulation. According to the Mayo Clinic, other possible associated or causative factors for having PCOS include low-grade inflammation and hereditary influences.
Due to the vast array of side effects associated with many pharmaceutical agents typically prescribed to treat PCOS, natural therapeutics including nutrient supplementation and botanicals can provide a less invasive and equally effective approach.
PCOS is a reproductive and metabolic disorder in which the level of damaging oxidative substances in the blood rises. Green tea is a potent antioxidant containing catechins, which show antioxidant action both in-vitro and in-vivo as good or better than vitamins C or E. In addition to its own antioxidant effects, green tea appears to stimulate the body’s own antioxidant enzymes in the liver, small intestine, and lungs.
In a 2015 study of ninety-six rats with PCOS, the effect of a 10-day infusion of green tea extract was examined. Researchers determined that green tea consumption modulates ovarian hormones, improves fertility, reduces insulin resistance, reduces weight, and improves ovarian morphology or structure. Specifically, they stated, “Due to these systemic effects and the ability to reduce metabolic features, green tea has been able to increase the reproduction rate in PCOS rats through a reduction in ovarian cysts and an increase in the appearance of corpus luteum. Therefore, green tea can alter both reproductive and the metabolic features of PCOS. Furthermore, we speculate that this effect of green tea is mediated through glucose-insulin signaling pathway. It is suggested that green tea is more effective in high concentrations.”1
This notable effect was confirmed by a recent 2017 study on 60 overweight women suffering from PCOS in Iran. This research aimed to study the effect of green tea on weight and hormonal changes of women suffering from PCOS. In this double-blind, randomized clinical trial, free testosterone hormones and fasting insulin were compared in both groups at the beginning and 12 weeks after the study began. The consumption of green tea leads to weight loss, a decrease in fasting insulin, and a decrease in the level of free testosterone.2
Testosterone is normally found in healthy women, but an excess can exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS including acne, insulin resistance, male-pattern hair growth, and hair loss. Testosterone helps improve muscle mass, balances our body fat with proper signals in the HPA axis or hypothalamic pituitary axis, and enhances our libido. Women with PCOS tend to have higher amounts of cortisol released, as cortisol rises so do adrenal androgens.
Obesity and insulin resistance also can also play a role in excess adrenal androgens. Green tea is rich in a compound called L-theanine and its main role is to balance HPA axis signals from the brain, which can help with testosterone balance. L-theanine is known to reduce anxiety which can be one of the myriad symptoms of PCOS. Additionally, green tea helps block the production of DHT–the strongest testosterone breakdown product which is known to cause hair loss, hirsutism, and acne for women suffering PCOS.
As the studies above concluded, high concentrations of green tea extract are necessary to reach therapeutic levels. We have had excellent results with a formula providing the most potent of green tea’s medicinal compounds, epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, present at an ideal 45% or 165mg per capsule. This is equivalent to three cups of green tea, but without the tea’s 120mg of caffeine. We like a formula that includes the benefits of theanine, lignans, and chlorophyll with whole green tea leaf. In our clinic, such a blend shows excellent benefits for antioxidant boosting, weight balance, PCOS, and seasonal affective disorder. Patients report having better stamina and often an increased sense of wellbeing.
Recommendation: Green Tea Extract 300mg, including the medicinal compounds epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, at an ideal 45%, along with therapeutically potent polyphenols, including catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate and proanthocyanidins, and whole green tea leaf. Take with meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Ghafurniyan H, Azarnia M, Nabiuni M, Karimzadeh L. The Effect of Green Tea Extract on Reproductive Improvement in Estradiol Valerate-Induced Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in Rat. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research : IJPR. 2015;14(4):1215-1233.
- Tehrani HG, Allahdadian M, Zarre F, Ranjbar H, Allahdadian F. Effect of green tea on metabolic and hormonal aspect of polycystic ovarian syndrome in overweight and obese women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome: A clinical trial. Journal of Education and Health Promotion. 2017;6:36.
- Azziz R. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Jul 10.
- Mombaini E et al. The Impact of Green Tea Supplementation on Anthropometric Indices and Inflammatory Cytokines in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Phytother Res. 2017 May 31(5):747-754.
- Teede HJ et al. Recommendations from the international evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. Clin Endocrinol. 2018 Jul 19.