Androgens are "male" sex hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone or DHT. They can benefit the human body, both male and female, by increasing energy, enhancing libido and lowering the risk for osteoporosis. However, too many androgens can have undesirable virilizing effects on a woman’s body, such as deepening the voice, promoting excess body hair and even causing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS, which can make a woman infertile. These hormones are also primarily responsible for acne, which is considered undesirable in both sexes. Oral contraceptives and diuretic medications that block androgen production are often used to lower androgen levels; however, they can also have harmful side effects. Reducing your androgen levels naturally is safer and can be just as effective.
Take herbal supplements that lower the amount of androgens circulating in the bloodstream. Saw palmetto is one such herb that inhibits excess testosterone production and can benefit men and women. Other herbs such as chasteberry (also known as Vitex agnus-castus) and black cohosh increase levels of estrogen, the female sex hormone, and should only be taken by women. You can also balance your hormones by taking maca root, a Peruvian plant known for its reproductive health benefits.
Consume foods high in soy, such as tofu, soy milk and soy sauce. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which can enhance and mimic the effects of estrogen on the female body, with the added benefit of being good for the heart. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits, nuts and green vegetables, which help balance hormone levels. Consume red meat in moderation, as red meat can raise androgen levels. Avoid oily, fatty and fried foods, which only make the undesirable effects of androgens worse.
Find an experienced acupuncturist. Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese practice, can help balance hormone levels circulating in the bloodstream. This can reduce excess androgens produced by the pituitary gland, release endorphins and create an overall feeling of well-being.
Drink one to two cups of spearmint tea daily. Spearmint has anti-androgenic effects and can reduce problems associated with high androgen levels.
Consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements, particularly if you are already taking any prescribed medications that may have harmful interactions with hormone-balancing herbs. An excess of estrogen can be just as harmful as an excess of androgens. Men in particular should consume fewer soy products and avoid any herbs that promote estrogen production.
- Healthy Women: Androgens
- Natural Infertility Cure: Does Soy Lower Testosterone Levels?; April 2011
- Full Bloom Acupuncture: Go With the Flow! Balance Your Hormones With Herbs and Acupuncture!; Maureen M. Conant, L.Ac.
- Natural Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Chasteberry
- "Wiley Online Library"; Phytotherapy Research; Effect of Spearmint Teas on Androgen Levels in Women; February 2007
- Natural Health Solutions for PCOS: Saw Palmetto and PCOS