Testosterone is a type of androgen, or male hormone. Medications to lower or block testosterone are sometimes prescribed to help prevent and treat a variety of conditions in men and women. Certain herbs also have anti-androgenic effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Talk to your health care provider before taking herbs for medical conditions.
Androgens can be produced naturally or synthetically manufactured. Testosterone is the most plentiful androgen in men, and women also produce androgens in the ovaries and adrenal cortex. Although most androgens in the female body are instantly converted into estrogens, or female hormones, the androgens that remain can help guard against osteoporosis and impact sexual desire.
In general, anti-androgens work by reducing the production of androgens or by inhibiting the body's ability to use the androgens it produces. Anti-androgen medications or supplements may be used in the treatment of prostate cancer by decreasing or inhibiting the supply of male sex hormones that promote the growth and spread of the cancer, notes the website MedicalDictionary.com They also may also help slow a type of inherited hair loss in men and women called androgenic alopecia, and help to clear acne by slowing the discharge of an oily substance called sebum, which relies on androgen production. Anti-androgens may also help treat a condition called hirsutism that causes women to grow excess hair on the face, chest and other areas where men typically grow hair.
The herbs saw palmetto, black cohosh and chaste tree, or chasteberry, all have anti-androgenic effects, which means that they may decrease the levels of male hormones in the body, reports the UMMC. Ask your doctor about the benefit of taking herbs to block testosterone.
Herbal remedies to block testosterone come in a variety of forms, including capsules, powders, teas and tinctures, or alcohol extracts. The suggested dosage of saw palmetto standardized extract is 160 mg. twice a day. Chaste tree should be taken once daily before breakfast in doses ranging from 20 to 40 mg. Approximately 30 mg. of black cohosh is recommended twice daily. Ask your doctor about the pros and cons of taking certain herbs as treatment for medical conditions.
Check with your doctor before taking saw palmetto if you take blood-thinning drugs like warfarin, brand name Coumadin, since it may increase the risk of bleeding. Saw palmetto may also cause minor abdominal discomfort.
Black cohosh may increase blood clots and should not be taken by people with liver conditions. Side effects may include headache and stomach upset.
Chaste tree may interact with Parkinson's disease medications and anti-psychotic drugs. Adverse reactions may include acne-like rashes, dizziness and abdominal pain.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Saw Palmetto
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hirsutism
- FAQs.org: Androgens
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Chasteberry
- The Free Dictionary: Anti-Androgen Drugs
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Black Cohosh