Hirsutism treatment, natural and alternative, vitamins, herbs, supplements
Feb 22 2014 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

The presence of terminal hair with a male pattern of distribution in a women is called hirsutism, and is either due to increased androgen production or to increased sensitivity of the hair follicle to androgens. Hirsutism is characterized by excessive hair growth on the face, breasts and belly, and affects about 5 percent of women. It is thought to be related to the body's level of androgens (male hormones).  In more than 95% of cases, it is a benign condition, generally a polycystic ovarian syndrome. When there is no evidence of oligo-anovulation and androgen levels are normal, the diagnosis of idiopathic hirsutism is given.

Cause of hirsutism
Polycystic ovary syndrome, see natural ways to treat this condition.

DHEA hormone supplements, testosterone hormone use, androstenedione hormone, and other androgens.

Hirsutism treatment
Therapy is threefold: 1) inhibition of androgen production; 2) inhibition of androgen action and 3) local treatment. The brisk apparition and extension of hirsutism, together with signs of virilisation and high levels of circulating androgens, suggest the presence of a tumor, rare, but almost always malignant.

Natural and alternative therapy
Exercise and weight loss could be very beneficial.
Fennel applied topically.
     Caspian J Intern Med. 2014 Winter. The effect of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) gel 3% in decreasing hair thickness in idiopathic mild to moderate hirsutism, A randomized placebo controlled clinical trial. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was carried out from 2009 to 2011, in Sari, Iran. Forty four women with mild to moderate idiopathic hirsutism were randomly divided to case and control groups, each group included 22 cases. The case group received fennel gel 3% and the control group received placebo. The effect of fennel gel 3% was defined as reduction of thickness of facial hair in micrometer by microscope in comparison with placebo. Measurements were performed at zero time and 24 weeks after treatment. The hair thickness reduced in patients receiving fennel gel after 24 weeks. Four patients complained of itching (3 in case group) and 4 patients complained of irritation and itching (3 in case group). However, this difference was not statistically significant. The study indicated that fennel gel 3% is effective in decreasing hair thickness in women with idiopathic mild to moderate hirsutism.
Licorice is one option, although licorice should not be taken daily for prolonged periods without breaks since it can cause low potassium levels.
Inositol supplement could be helpful in reducing signs and symptoms of hirsutism.
Spearmint tea may be helpful.

Is there an herb or vitamin that can help with hirsutism treatment?
   There have been a few studies with nutrients, herbs and supplements that have shown potential in offering some benefit but weight loss should be the primary objective.

Myo Inositol supplement as natural hirsutism treatment
Treatment of hirsutism with myo-inositol: a prospective clinical study.
Reprod Biomed Online. 2008.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of myo-inositol treatment in hirsute women. Forty-six hirsute women were evaluated at baseline and after receiving myo-inositol therapy for 6 months. Body mass index (BMI), hirsutism, serum concentrations of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, apolipoprotein B, lipoprotein(a), serum adrenal and ovarian androgens, fasting glucose and insulin concentrations were evaluated. No changes in BMI were observed. The hirsutism decreased after therapy. Total androgens, FSH and LH concentrations decreased while estradiol concentrations increased. There was a slight non-significant decrease in total cholesterol concentrations, an increase in HDL cholesterol concentrations and a decrease in LDL cholesterol concentrations. No significant changes were observed in serum triglyceride, apolipoprotein B and lipoprotein(a) concentrations. Insulin resistance was reduced significantly after therapy. Administration of oral myo-inositol significantly reduced hirsutism and hyperandrogenism and ameliorated the abnormal metabolic profile of women with hirsutism.

Spearmint tea may help treat excess body hair
Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism.
Phytother Res. 2007.
Mentha spicata Labiatae, known as spearmint and Mentha piperita Labiatae, known as peppermint can be used for various kinds of illnesses in herbal medicine and flavoring in industry. Spearmint grows on the Anamas plateau of Yenithornarbademli town of Isparta, located in southwest part of Turkey. In this town, clinicians thought that consumption of tea steeped with spearmint or peppermint caused a diminished libido. Because antiandrogenic effects of spearmint and peppermint were found previously in rats, it was decided to observe the effect of this herbal tea on the androgen levels in hirsute women. Twenty-one female hirsute patients, 12 with polycystic ovary syndrome and 9 with idiopathic hirsutism were included to the study. They were took a cup of herbal tea which was steeped with spearmint for 5 days twice a day in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycles. After treatment with spearmint teas, there was a significant decrease in free testosterone and increase in luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol. There were no significant decreases in total testosterone or dehydroepiandrostenedione sulphate levels. Spearmint can be an alternative to antiandrogenic treatment for mild hirsutism. Further studies are needed to test the reliability of these results and the availability of spearmint as a drug for hirsutism.

Hirsutism Research studies
Licorice reduces serum testosterone in healthy women.
Steroids. 2004.
Licorice has been considered a medicinal plant for thousands of years. The most common side effect is hypokalemic hypertension, which is secondary to a block of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 at the level of the kidney, leading to an enhanced mineralocorticoid effect of cortisol. We have investigated the effect of licorice on androgen metabolism in nine healthy women 22-26 years old, in the luteal phase of the cycle. They were given 3.5 g of a commercial preparation of licorice (containing 7.6% W.W. of glycyrrhizic acid) daily for two cycles. Licorice can reduce serum testosterone probably due to the block of 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 17-20 lyase. Licorice could be considered an adjuvant therapy of hirsutism and polycystic ovary syndrome.