For many women who experience hormonal imbalance, excess androgen production can be a major concern as it can lead to all kinds of havoc in the female body. Acne, excess body hair and mood disorders are just some of the problems associated with too much of these male hormones. So what are androgens and why do our bodies make them?
Androgens are hormones produced by reproductive organs and adrenal glands and works to regulate the development of male secondary characteristics. Both women and men produce varying degree and variety of androgen, which include testosterone and it has useful functions in the reproductive system as well as our overall health including enhanced libido, increased energy and production of healthy muscle mass.
While a little male hormone can be good, the problem arises when our system produce too much of these androgens leading to all kinds of unpleasant side effects. By nature women possess roughly one-tenth the amount of androgen and testosterone in men, but the levels of these male hormones may heighten if there is an imbalance in the system as a result of lifestyle choices, medical conditions and age.
Women with overly high androgen levels typically experience symptoms such excessive body hair, acne, menstrual irregularities, polycystic ovary syndrome, fertility issues and even sexual dysfunction.
When addressing the issue of excess androgen, the goal is to reduce ovarian or adrenal androgen production which reduces the level of free androgen and blocking the secondary androgen action.
Oftentimes, we focus on treating the symptoms whereas the goal should be to address the underlying cause of the issue and promote balance within our reproductive system.
Typically changing to a healthy diet, moderate exercise, reduction of stress levels as well as dietary supplements can provide relief to symptoms as well as promote balance.
A few ways to reduce androgens in females naturally:
Exercise, it’s a must
The impact of a regular exercise on our overall hormone and whole body health is powerful.
According to a 12-month study conducted by Anne McTiernan at the Cancer Prevention Research Program of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, data shows that loss of body fat in conjunction with moderate intensity exercise causes greater decline in androgen, testosterone and free testosterone.
Combining a healthy diet high in protein and free of processed foods, unhealthy carbohydrates, sugars and fats in addition to moderate exercise, 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week should be the starting point towards getting the body back on the right track.
Eat the right foods
To reduce androgen levels in females naturally, there has to be a reduction of sugars and unhealthy carbohydrates. The reason, one word, insulin. Consuming high levels of sugars and refined carbs leads to high insulin levels which causes the ovaries to produce these male hormones.
Too much of refined carbs and sugars can also lead to other major health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. Women with PCOS are especially susceptible to these type of diseases given the tendency for their system to produce high insulin. Therefore best practice is to refrain from these diet culprits and adopt a diet rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and leafy greens.
Look for high fiber and phytoestrogenic foods: Research was carried out in Italy on the effect of reducing sex hormones through dietary change where 104 women were involved.
Dietary changes that were incorporated include reduction of total intake of fat particularly saturated fatty acids, and a reduction of the consumption of high-glycemic index foods. Dietary fibers from green foods were recommended, and foods containing phytoestrogens, like tofu, non GMO soy, and flaxseed were enhanced in the diet. These dietary changes gave rise to lower levels of testosterone.
Foods rich In Omega 3’s like flaxseed: Omega 3’s can minimize the levels of testosterone in women. Flaxseed is a great source of these omega 3 fatty acids, manganese, vitamin B1 and fiber. It comes in two different types: brown and golden which as well known as linseed and can be used in a variety of ways. Linseeds and ground flaxseed can be incorporated into smoothies, gluten free muffins, sprinkled above porridge or salads.
Some other foods that can help to naturally lower androgen and testosterone levels include:
Reishi Mushroom: Foods like Reishi mushrooms have been shown to significantly lower testosterone levels. Japanese experiments of 19 edible and medicinal mushrooms showed that alcohol extracts of Ganoderma lucidum prevented the effects of testosterone.
The research showed that one of the biological functions of Reishi mushroom is to repress androgen and its effect. In vitro and in vivo researches conducted with rats, it was discovered that the resultant effect is the suppression and reduction of the growth of cells in their androgen-dependent prostates. Reishi mushroom has been used for thousands of years in Asian cultures to treat various disease conditions.
Red clover: The Monash Institute of Reproduction & Development Centre for Urological Research in Australia conducted a research on the effects of red clover given as food to male mice.
The results of the study came to a conclusion that diets rich in red clover reduced the level of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. The phytochemicals in red clover were anti-androgenic when compared to the control group, which exhibited elevated androgen levels.
Add a few supplements and herbal remedies to your diet
Vitex agnus/Chasteberry or Shatavari extracts: Natural herbal supplements such as vitex and shatavari are well known as women’s herbs and used frequently in female fertility and hormonal therapy treatments due to their ability to promote balance of hormonal levels in the female reproductive system.
The ASANA by Ladies Balance supplement mix and capsules were formulated with certified organic vitex, shatavari, maca and green tea. Its’ proprietary formula combines the most well known and potent herbs used in the natural management of women’s hormonal balance. Read more about the formula HERE.
Spearmint Tea: Spearmint tea is among one of the most prominent herbal tea for correction of excess testosterone. A study carried out in Turkey showed that PCOS women who drank 2 cups of spearmint tea every day for a month showed a significant reduction in the level of excess androgen.
Inositol: Supplements like inositol not only lowers the level of testosterone but also enhances the quality of egg and spontaneous ovulation in women with PCOS.
Supplements to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels: Supplements like Vitamin D, chromium, cinnamon and alpha lipoic acid and green tea influences insulin sensitivity which in turn can positively impact androgen levels.
In summary, diet, exercise and supplementation can help to regulate androgen hormones in women. As always before starting any natural hormone therapy, it is a good idea to consult with a physician and conduct the proper tests to discover current hormonal levels, identify the imbalance and rule out any major diseases or illnesses.