PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is an endocrine disorder that can affect hormones, metabolism and the immune system. This article is going to walk you through my Top 10 PCOS Treatments for High Androgens. Dealing with unwanted hair growth that comes along with PCOS is difficult. It always seems to be a problem…even when you deal with it by waxing, threading, shaving, it pops back up! Urgh… The best way I have found to really deal with slowing down the growth of unwanted body hair is to decrease testosterone internally. Let’s walk through what is going on in your body and some treatment options to consider.
TESTOSTERONE is one of the 4 Pillars of PCOS. It is known to be not only be produced in the ovaries but also in the adrenal glands (produces stress hormone known as cortisol) that sit on top of your kidney. So it is important to determine where the testosterone is coming from so that you can use targeted treatments.
Different Types of Testosterone:
- Testosterone: The most widely known form of testosterone. Comes from adrenal glands, ovaries and converted in the blood from androstenedione.
- DHEA: This form of testosterone is primarily produced by the adrenal glands and a small about is produced by the ovaries.
- DHEA-S: DHEA-S is created by the adrenal gland from DHEA, high levels can indicate inflammation.
- Androstenedione: This hormone is produced from progesterone and is converted to testosterone. (ie. 17-OH-progesterone >> androstenedione >> testosterone). It is produced half by the adrenals, half by the ovaries.
- Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): DHT is the strongest androgen of them all! It is directly created from testosterone.
Main Functions of Testosterone
You might wonder, why do women even have testosterone in the first place? Isn’t this a male hormone? Well, testosterone has a key role to play in women’s health as well. It is known as the hormone that helps to improve muscle mass, enhances our libido, and balances our body fat.
What does Stress have to do with high Testosterone?
Well, it all comes down to the hormone signals that start in our brain. Our hypothalamus will release Cortisol Releasing Hormone (CRH) which will direct the Anterior Pituitary gland to release Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) which will then direct the adrenal glands to release cortisol. This is known as the HPA axis or hypothalamic pituitary axis. PCOS women tend to have higher amounts of cortisol released, as cortisol rises so does adrenal androgens. Obesity and insulin resistance also can play a role in adrenal androgens.
Common Concerns with Testosterone Gets too High
- Insulin resistance
- Hair growth
- Hair loss
Top 10 Natural PCOS Treatments for High Androgens
- Licorice: high doses of licorice has been shown to inhibit the conversion of androstenedione to testosterone. Less testosterone means less stimulation to the hair follicle and therefore less growth. This herb is often combined with peony root as it also has anti-androgenic effects!
- White Peony: White peony is a Traditional Chinese medicine herb known for its’ benefit to reduce testosterone with licorice.
- Spearmint tea: Studies have indicated that one cup twice daily can have anti-androgenic outcomes to free and total testosterone. (2)
- Green tea: Green tea can help to block the production of DHT which is typically known to cause hair loss, hirsutism and acne.
- Saw Palmetto: Saw palmetto is traditionally used for BPH but also is great for women with excess androgens. This herb is potent but works! In my opinion, it’s kind of like the Buckley’s for PCOS…you can do it!
- Black Cohosh: Black cohosh can help to reduce LH:FSH ratio in women with PCOS, thereby reducing androgens. Read more about PCOS lab testing here.
- Phosphatidylserine: This supplement is known to help with balancing cortisol levels in the blood.
- Reishi Mushroom: This botanical mushroom can block the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
- L-theanine: L-theanine is found in green tea. Its main role is to balance HPA axis signals from the brain.
- Siberian Ginseng: This adaptogenic herb is known to balance the HPA axis allowing it to have an effect on the androgens produced by the adrenal glands.
McCulloch, F. (n.d.). 8 steps to reverse your PCOS.
P, G. (2017). Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19585478 [Accessed 19 Sep. 2017].