Although most women want beautiful, luxurious hair on their heads sometimes women can grow hair in unwanted places, such as the chest or face. This is called hirsutism and can affect any woman. The condition can be caused by overactive hormones called androgens, which make a woman develop hair in places normally associated with men. A small amount of hair is normal in these places for women, but a large amount of thick, coarse hair is not usual and in these cases a woman will often want to remove it in a safe and natural way.
Symptoms of hirsutism
There are a number of signs that can tell you if you are suffering from hirsutism. Changes in our hormones can affect more than just hair levels and you may find yourself experiencing disruptions in your menstrual periods or even lack of periods altogether, acne on the face and back and a loss of curves in the body as fat distribution changes. Other masculine signs include deepening of the voice, enlarged clitoris, baldness on the head and larger shoulders.
Hirsutism can be caused by Cushings disease which can give other symptoms such as thinning hair, diabetes, raised blood pressure and thickening of the mid-section or obesity.
Causes of excessive body hair
Hirsutism can be caused by a number of issues and half of all women with this condition have raised androgens in their body: male sex hormones. These hormones can be caused by not only Cushings disease but also other issues, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (POS), tumours, the consumption of certain medications and anabolic steroids. Danazol is a substance that is used to treat endometriosis and this chemical can also cause hirsutism. Occasionally a woman can suffer from hirsutism without any underlying cause.
There are a couple of risk factors that can make some women more prone to developing hirsutism than others. One of these exacerbating factors is genetics. It is possible to inherit certain issues which can lead to the propensity to develop the condition. Another risk factor is race or ethnic origin, with women from the Middle East, South Asia and Europe more liable to develop the condition.
There are a number of natural methods that can be used to treat hirsutism and reduce the amount of excess hair produced by the body. One of the best ways to reduce androgen levels in the body and therefore the excessive hair is to make dietary changes. Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat helps to reduce androgens. Cherries, tomatoes, pumpkin and peppers are especially effective.
Healthy oils such as virgin olive oil should be included in the diet, along with whole foods, cold water fish, lean white meat, tofu and beans. Foods to cut down on include red meat, refined foods such as white bread and white pasta, alcohol and tobacco. A healthy diet is vital to encouraging the body to balance its hormones.
Herbs that balance hormones
Herbs can be added to the diet to aid the body’s hormone balance. Care must always be taken when ingesting herbs and flowers and you should always consult a medical professional for advice before taking any herbs. Some suggested herbs that could help the body regulate its hormones and potentially reduce hirsutism include black cohosh, which has anti-androgenic effects. Black cohosh is a powerful herb and should be avoided if you have any liver problems or any blood clotting disorder.
Saw palmetto also reduces male hormones in the body but it can also thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding. Chaste tree is another herb that could help reduce androgens in the body, however, this herb has the potential to interfere with other drugs, including psychiatric medications and Parkinson’s disease medications. All these herbs should be avoided if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant.
Other methods to reduce androgens in a woman’s body include exercise, sufficient water consumption, hair removal methods and acupuncture. A trained acupuncturist can help to reduce hair density on the body, while regular waxing can thin unwanted hair and eventually reduce its growth.