Several conditions are reliant on high levels of androgen hormones, such as benign prostate hyperplasia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hirsutism and acne and prostate cancer, and have become a major concern for many people. The presence of anti-androgenic chemicals in traditional Chinese plants and herbal medicines may help to provide treatment and answers for people who are looking to balance their hormones with evidence-based, natural medicine.
Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)
In a research study exploring the anti-androgenic effects of 20 species of mushrooms, reishi mushrooms had the strongest action in inhibiting testosterone. The study, published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" in 2005 by Rumi Fujita and colleagues, found reishi mushrooms significantly reduced levels of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that turns normal testosterone into the more potent hormone dihydrotestosterone. High levels of DHT are a risk factor in conditions such as benign prostate growth, acne and baldness.
Korean Angelica (Angelica Gigas)
Although many people have not heard of Korean angelica, scientific research is making interesting discoveries with Chinese herb. In 2006, the journal "Cancer Research" published a study on Korean angelica; the study found that the plant had powerful anti-androgenic effects. Researcher Cheng Jiang and colleagues found the active chemical in Korean angelica that was most likely responsible was a steroid called decursin. Korean angelica is sometimes confused with dong quai (angelica sinensis), but like many other angelica species, dong quai has no effect on oestrogen or testosterone, according to author Ruth Trickey, in her book "Women, Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle."
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra)
A small clinical trial found that liquorice root significantly decreases testosterone levels in healthy female volunteers. The study, published in the scientific journal "Steroids" in 2004 by researcher Decio Armanini, M.D., and colleagues, found that women taking liquorice root each day experienced a drop in testosterone levels in just one month; after discontinuation, testosterone levels returned to normal. This effect may be due to chemicals found in liquorice root, such as the steroid glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetic acid, which have an anti-androgen effect.
White Peony (Paeonia Lactiflora)
White peony is an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine and has been shown in studies to effect androgen levels in the body. One study published in the "American Journal of Chinese Medicine" in 1991 by researcher Toru Takeuchi and colleagues from the University of Tokyo found a chemical from white peony, called paeoniflorin, inhibited the production of testosterone and promoted the activity of aromatase -- an enzyme that converts testosterone into oestrogen.
Green Tea (Camelia Sinensis)
In addition to supporting the cardiovascular system and possibly preventing cancer, green tea may also have important anti-androgenic effects in the body. Green tea contains chemicals called epigallocatechins, which inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, and thereby reduce the conversion of normal testosterone into the more potent di-hydro-testosterone. This anti-androgen effects may help to reduce the risk of conditions such as benign prostate growth, acne and baldness.
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- Science Direct: Journal of Ethnopharmacology: Anti-androgen Effects of Ganoderma Lucidum
- Cancer Research: Potent Antiandrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of an Angelica gigas--Containing Herbal Formulation: Identification of Decursin as a Novel and Active Compound with Implications for Prevention and Treatment of Prostate Cancer
- PubMed: Steroids: Licorice Reduces Serum Testosterone in Healthy Women.
- PubMed: The American Journal Of Chinese Medicine: Effect of Paeoniflorin, Glycyrrhizin and Glycyrrhetic Acid on Ovarian Androgen Production
- PubMed: Hong Kong Medical Journal: The Medicinal Action of Androgens and Green Tea Epigallocatechin Gallate
- "Women, Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle"; Trickey, Ruth; 2003