If you are experiencing excess hair growth in areas that are typically characteristic of male patterns (e.g. face, chest, stomach, upper lip and excessive leg and arm hair), you may have a condition called hirsutism. Thick and excessive hair can be in part contributable to genetics, however hirsutism is most likely caused by elevated levels of androgens (male hormones), including testosterone. Androgens boost male pattern hair growth and intensify the pigmentation of body hair, making it look darker and more noticeable.
While it is important to get professional advice to address the underlying cause of hirsutism, here are 5 simple and effective naturopathic interventions that can help reduce symptoms.
1. Spearmint tea
The consumption of spearmint tea has been shown to reduce hirsutism and significantly decrease androgens in females with elevated levels. It was also shown to increase sex hormone binding globulin levels and consequently decrease circulating testosterone (source). For a therapeutic effect, aim to drink 4 cups per day.
2. Low glycemic diet
Carbohydrates that have a high Glycemic Index (GI) rating are quickly broken down by the body and result in a rapid spike in blood glucose levels, which consequently triggers the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. In contrast, low-GI carbohydrates, which take longer to digest and are generally higher in fibre, result in a slower, steadier rise in the blood glucose, and a steadier insulin response. While insulin is necessary to transport glucose from the blood into the cells, spikes in insulin can drive spikes in androgens, resulting in that unwanted hair, or hirsutism. Opt for low GI carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, barley and rye: and aim to have a protein at every meal.
Cinnamon is not only a delicious, warming spice perfect for winter but it has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity (source). This can play out to reduce excess androgens and help to treat hirsutism particularly in women with PCOS and insulin sensitivity.
4. Licorice root
Now before you get excited, we are not talking about the delicious black sweet, loaded with sugar but rather the straight herb found in teas and herbal tinctures. Licorice root has been shown to significantly reduce testosterone levels in women with elevated levels (source), helping to reduce hirsutism. Speak to your naturopath before supplementation.
Regular exercise can significantly improve insulin sensitivity, which as we now know, can help reduce androgens in the body. Aim to move your body daily with high intensity exercise incorporated 3-4 times per week.
For further support please book in to see us for a consultation.
Tabitha & Maddy x