If you are suffering from hirsutism and looking for complementary health options, herbs may provide some new options for treatment. Hirsutism is the excess growth of body or facial hair and results from high testosterone levels in the blood. In women the causes of hirsutism can be diverse, ranging from ovarian diseases to obesity, menopause, adrenal gland disorders and prescribed medications. When considering herbal treatments, always consult with your health-care provider and discuss whether herbs are right for you.
Damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca)
Damiana is a native plant to Mexico, Central America and the West Indies and has been used traditionally as a libido tonic. According to author Ruth Trickey in her book "Women, Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle," damiana blocks the effects of testosterone in the body and prevents testosterone from attaching to cell receptor sites. Ruth Trickey recommends damiana as a safe remedy for treating hirsutism when excess hair growth is only minor to moderate, as it may take longer to work than standard drugs.
Linseed (Linum usitatissimum)
Linseeds are one of the richest food sources of phytoestrogens available. Phytoestrogens are plant chemicals that mimic human oestrogen in the body after they are ingested. In addition, phytoestrogens will increase blood levels of sex-hormone-binding glubulin, which binds to testosterone and makes it unavailable. Linseeds can be taken as a ground powder and sprinkled into foods or mixed in water or taken as whole seeds in breads and cereals.
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra )
Liquorice is a herb native to Asia and used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine. In a study published in the journal "Steroids" in 2004, researcher Decio Armanini and colleagues found that liquorice significantly reduced testosterone levels in healthy young women. Armanini concluded that liquorice should be considered as a complementary health treatment for women suffering from hirsutism and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Paeony (Paeonia lactiflora)
Paeony is a rich source of active plant chemicals such as paeoniflorin, which has been studied for its use in balancing hormones in women. In one study published in the "American Journal of Chinese Medicine" in 1991, researcher T. Takeuchi from the University of Tokyo found paeoniflorin was effective in reducing testosterone. Paeoniflorin acted through stimulating the enzyme, which converts testosterone to oestrogen in the blood stream.
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)
Saw palmetto is a popular herb for men's health problems, particularly of the prostate. The action of saw palmetto is to influence the balance of hormones within the body and prevent the conversion of testosterone to a more potent chemical called DHT. According to author Ruth Trickey in her book "Women, Hormones & the Menstrual cycle," saw palmetto also prevents the binding of testosterone to cells in the body. Trickey recommends saw palmetto as a treatment for hirsutism in women for this reason.