The 7 Best Natural Anti-Androgen Supplements for Facial Hair (Hirsutism)

woman with a mustacheNatural anti-androgen supplements reduce testosterone or block its effects. In women, androgen blockers can improve the symptom of unwanted facial hair (hirsutism), often associated with PCOS.

Anti-androgen supplements are not a stand-alone treatment for facial hair or acne. You still need to fix the underlying reason for androgen excess or the underlying driver of your type of PCOS. For example, if you’ve been taking a masculinizing type of birth control, then stop taking it. If you have PCOS, then identify your type of PCOS and treat that.

 👉 Tip: For more tips for acne, read How to prevent and treat post-pill acne.

Restoring normal ovulation can go a long way to reducing testosterone because both estrogen and progesterone have strong anti-androgen effects.

Natural anti-androgen supplements for hirsutism


Zinc improves ovarian function thereby decreasing androgens and increasing progesterone, which is a natural androgen blocker. It also inhibits the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase and therefore reduces the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

In a recent clinical trial, zinc supplementation significantly improved hirsutism in just eight weeks. The recommended dose is 30-50 mg taken directly after dinner. Don’t take zinc on an empty stomach, or it could make you feel sick. Read Why zinc is my favorite prescription for healthy periods.


Progesterone reduces testosterone in three ways: It inhibits 5-alpha reductase; blocks androgen receptors; and reduces luteinizing hormone (LH), thereby reducing LH stimulation of the ovary to make testosterone. The best way to obtain progesterone is to ovulate and make your own. You can also supplement it, which is particularly helpful for PCOS in the form of cyclic progesterone therapy.

 👉 Tip: There’s no progesterone in hormonal birth control. They’re progestins, some of which are more similar to testosterone than they are to progesterone.

Peony & licorice combination

Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) inhibits the production of testosterone and promotes the activity of the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) downregulates the enzyme (CYP17A1) that produces testosterone and contains phytoestrogens that downregulate androgen production and block androgen receptors. Together, the two herbs have the synergistic effect of normalizing pituitary hormones. Peony & licorice combination did well in a 2017 clinical trial for PCOS. Licorice raises blood pressure, so consult a clinician about safe use.

Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) inhibits 5-alpha reductase which is the enzyme that converts testosterone to the more potent DHT hormone. This natural anti-androgen has many other health benefits including immune enhancement and stabilization of the HPA (adrenal) axis.

DIM (diindolylmethane)

DIM (diindolylmethane) is a phytonutrient derived from vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale. It acts as a natural anti-androgen by blocking androgen receptors. Because DIM inhibits the aromatase enzyme, it could have the unwanted effect of decreasing estrogen, but clinically, I’ve found it to be quite effective for both acne and hirsutism. I recommend 100 mg per day.


Melatonin did well in a couple of clinical trials for PCOS and androgenetic alopecia. It works by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.


Vitex agnus-castus lowers prolactin and so can improve the high-prolactin type of androgen excess, which is quite different from PCOS. When prolactin is high, it can cause androgen excess by 1)  increasing the adrenal androgen DHEA, and 2) up-regulating 5-alpha reductase. When prolactin is not high, Vitex can actually worsen the androgen excess PCOS. Read the Do’s and don’ts of Vitex.

 👉 Tip: You don’t need all of these supplements. Start with the core treatment for your type of PCOS, and then choose one additional anti-androgen treatment such as zinc.

Hirsutism takes a long time to improve

Facial hair or hirsutism is one of the most frustrating symptoms of PCOS and the slowest to improve. Even once you have all the right treatment in place, you may still have to wait twelve months to see an improvement.

Further reading:

What is your experience with natural testosterone blockers?

Dr Lara Briden

248 thoughts on “The 7 Best Natural Anti-Androgen Supplements for Facial Hair (Hirsutism)”

  1. At first I wrote something really scathing. But I decided against it. Take it “as read” that I’m angry. I think this article is useless fluff. And I’ll only make the following points:

    * the drugs used by trans women will point the way toward supplements you can use naturally to block testosterone better than these suggestions

    * aromatase doesn’t make T from E, it makes E from T

    * women with PCOS have way way bigger issues than acne and hirsutism

    * hirsutism is when an MD begins to treat a woman with PCOS because there’s finally a visible effect, even cysts do not trigger the prescription of spironolactone for 99% of doctors and this is a travesty because for some women that doesn’t even work, and for all women, it’s too late

    * infertility is 100% assured in the current medical climate of non treatment of PCOS

    * many women found that coincidentally their PCOS went into remission when they became ketogenic, but this has been largely ignored by medicine who chants the banishing mantra “there is no evidence that…” at it

    * PCOS starts early in life as early as the first couple years after menarche, but is considered “heavy periods” and ignored until cysts form, and there is no treatment for that either except being poked with phallic objects to “observe” the cysts repeatedly through life, being given opioids to lessen the pain and being told to watch your diet

    * when the woman gains weight it’s her fault, she must be eating pies and cookies all day and drinking nothing but sodas and juice and lying around eating bonbons instead of exercising, PCOS is never considered as a reason

    * when the woman gets diabetes that’s again her fault, she didn’t care for herself enough

    There are way bigger issues here than just a bit of hair on the face and a few pimples. I wish with all my heart that was all this disease was. Please I beg you, if you can, turn my disease into worse acne and a full beard, and take away the rest and I will be joyous beyond compare! I would do anything to get rid of the rest of it.

    • I’m a little unclear as to what it is you object to? Of course, there are anti-androgen medications but this article is for women who want to try natural treatments. And of course, PCOS is about a lot more than just hirsutism, which is why I link to several other PCOS resources including my scientific paper about cyclic progesterone for PCOS — where I talk about how PCOS begins early in life.

      As for aromatase, I state “aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen.” Isn’t that exactly what you’ve just said? “aromatase makes E from T.”

      We’re on the same page about a lot of what you said except I’d just point out that pain is not a symptom of PCOS. So, if pain is a strong symptom, there’s likely to be an additional condition — often endometriosis or adenomyosis.

  2. Hi Lara,

    Is it possible to have normal blood tests but an androgen hypersensivity?
    Also, which brand of DIM supplements would you recommend?
    (Sorry for my english, i’m not a native english speaker…)

    Thank you for you help!

    Kind regards

  3. Lara,
    In the past I took SawPalmetto (at a high dose, 1000 mg per day.) and it lowered my estrogen and made me extremely depressed. Now that I have studied more I want to try DIM for PCOS related hirsutism and hair loss, but am terrified of experiencing the same low estrogen effects. Any suggestions?

    I already do zinc and inositol and magnesium

  4. after cutting off dairy,sugar,gluten and taking zinc
    As someone with high LH
    would you prefer dim or progesterone as first line treatment?

      • My symptoms(excessive androgens) started when I was 19. I’m 20 now
        My weight is normal.
        I was vegan-vegetarian(low in sugar and refined carbs, high in complex carbs and legumes) for two years but when I really did start to notice the symptoms was during and after taking the pill (Ethinylestradiol/cyproterone acetate).
        After I stop the pill I was drinking lot of cow’s yogurt and gluten, skipping meals and sedentarism (I hadn’t read your book yet), which lead to increased hirsutism
        I’ve made a second bloodwork last month on day 2 of the cycle, results: LH :FSH (7.4:5.9)
        After reading different articles about the subject I suspect I might have an adrenal predominance.
        I used to store most of my fat on my legs , this changed during and after I stopped the pill
        I only took Diane 35 for 2 months and a half and it’s been more than a year since I’ve stopped taking it.
        I lost more weight when I cut off dairy and gluten.
        However all my fat stores on my belly and feel bloated all the time, my legs are getting thinner, like losing muscle mass on there.
        My periods arrive fairly normal, bleed for 5 days , 30-32 days it’s the length of my last three cycles, .
        I still have hair loss and hirsutism and in the last months I feel like I got PMS(breast tenderness, depression ) like never before.
        I’ve introduced DIM a few days ago and I noticed some improvement in hair loss.

        My plan is to take Ashwagandha and/or rhodiola and a menopause supplement which contains: black cohosh , vitex , dong quai, wild yam,red clover, 5-htp,isoflavones and licorice.
        and perhaps also, a probiotic, NAC, curcumin,vitamin d, fish oil.
        I’m no longer vegetarian but I almost never eat red meat or chicken , my proteins are mainly fish,eggs, goat cheese.

        Currently I’m taking DIM, reishi, zinc, resveratrol, myo-inositol,b complex.
        With DIM i’ve noticed more cervical mucus and less hair loss.
        with the other I’m not quite sure

  5. Dr. Briden

    I was concerned by something that Dr Fiona McCulloch mentioned on her book about Reishi
    It says the following
    “If you have an autoimmune condition, such as lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or rheumatoid arthritis, it may be best to avoid Ganoderma, as it is considered to be an immune-boosting herb”

    However I read from some studies that Reishi doesn’t boost but modulates, regulates

    I would like to know, what are your thoughts on this?

  6. I was wondering
    If progesterone inhibits 5-alpha reductase, blocks androgen receptors, and reduces luteinizing hormone (LH)
    ,practically almost the whole package to manage PCOS
    then why it was necessary for Dr.Jerilynn Prior to add spironolactone in the new treatment she recommends

    what was the missing piece that progesterone couldn’t fix?

  7. Hi Dr. Briden

    I hope you could solve my concern .
    As you mentioned DIM inhibits the enzyme aromatase, and Peony promotes it.
    If both have opposite effects, shouldn’t either one of them be avoided instead?

  8. I saw that glycyrrhiza uralensis contains quercetin , but glycyrrhiza glabra does not.
    Would be any difference in effectiveness due to this ?

  9. Hi Dr. Briden

    I have recently purchased a herbal formula which contains the following ingredients :

    Panax ginseng
    Atractylodes macrocephala
    Citrus reticulata
    Cinnamomum cassia
    Milkvetch Root
    Polygala tenuifolia
    Glycyrrhiza uralensis
    Angelica sinensis
    Poria cocos
    White Peony Root
    Rehmannia glutinosa
    Schisandra chinensis

    I plan to take this for 6 months.
    What do you think of this formula.
    Is there any ingredient that I should avoid?

  10. Hello dr. Briden, what are your thoughts on vitamine B12 and B6 when using Yaz and having a deficiency on those? Whenever I use B12 hirsutism and acne gets worse.

  11. Is peony and licorice something that I can find already formulated together? Or do I purchase them separately? Do you have a brand you recommend? Thank you!

  12. Dr. Briden,

    I have been struggling with male pattern hair on my body and acne for as long as I can remember.
    I have been diagnosed with adrenal PCOS. My cortisol, testosterone and androgen (DHEAS) levels are all high.
    I have been prescribed spironolactone. But in your opinion, what is the best treatment for me?
    I also have extreme joint pain! I am 28.

    Thank you very much for all of the information you provide!

    • Hi Katie ! My name is Calli! I am similar to you and am 28 also! My symptoms are from my adrenal gland like you too ! So researching for us is diff with high androgen symptoms ! 😩 I’d really like to connect! Would really help not to feel so lonely , at least for me ! Maybe we could help each other. If you’d like yo talk too please email me at [email protected]. Look forward to hopefully hearing from you !

  13. I had Brest cancer in my left breast and will have a few radiation sections and I know that my doctor is prescribing some hormone blockers which I know that hormone blockers might not be very good because of possible side effects so I will like to know if there might be an alternative for me.

  14. Dr. Briden ,
    I have a question
    I read on Period Repair Manual book that if the aim is to lower androgens with peony and licorice, it should be taken for 6 months and do a pause and then resume. My question is after resuming and have been taking 12 months peony and licorice , would be enough to stop and don’t take it again? O will I have to take it for more than a year or two?

    I would be very grateful if you could answer my concern
    Thank you for your time

    • First, remember that licorice can raise blood pressure so you’ll need to watch that if you’re going to use it long-term.
      With my patients, I usually only prescribe it for 3-6 months at a time but have other treatments in place like zinc or inositol.

  15. Hello there, thank you for your article.

    I had a normal period until I used melatonin every night for 4 months straight. During the third month when my period arrived, the consistency/flow of my period reduced down to half a day, instead of the 4 full days and 2 lighter days (all up 6 day period).

    Melatonin is a hormone that unfortunately messed up my endocrine system, as I never had a problem with my period prior to using it. Melatonin decreases testosterone, aromatization, as well as acts as a selective estrogen receptor modulator. Also “Melatonin binds to its own receptors and causes a decrease in expression of estrogen receptors, thereby blocking estradiol from binding to estrogen receptors”

    After ceasing the melatonin cold turkey, my period did not come back to its normal flow. To this day, my flow lasts for half a day, and I want to have a baby but my period is so scant theres no way I could carry. My Estrogen receptors are turned off, how do I switch them on again, I have tried everything, and everything that I have tried have been “phytoestrogens” which I have just figured out are SERM’s, and have been doing the same thing that melatonin has done, as in modulates my estrogen levels. I even used Vitex and vitamin b6, which lowered it even more. I want to increase my own estrogen, not replace it, and I figured out that White Peony could help increase aromatization. what I understand from this article is that WP will lower my testosterone and that it is also a phytoestrogen (aren’t phytoestrogens SERMs?). Will white peony help me? I want to purchase your book, but from the reviews, I am not sure if there is help for someone like me. Thank you

  16. I have problems with excess body and facial hair which I have had treated with electrolysis and some laser treatment over many years. I am now 76 years old but look good and do not have a problem with thinning hair on my head. I have had three children, no miscarriages and am healthy but suffer from anxiety – I was very troubled by hirsutism in my youth. I still have electrolysis on my face but not often and have had electrolysis on the backs and inner of my thighs. I am sure I don’t have PCOS and had no trouble with periods which stopped at age 56. I was interested to read about androgens and wonder if I can take something to improve this problem.

  17. I’m writting about hirsutism and high levels of testosterone. Is it possible to be diagnosticated with SOP with complete regular periods? I also have suspected polycystic ovaries, but the eco was made whan I was 16…

    I’ve 15 years with ACOS and I’ve already stoped taking them, first month still without period. I’m waiting for It…

  18. There is one thing l don t understand about Vitex. So it acts as a natural progesterone but it raises LH however progesterone reduces LH. Does Vitex all the time raise LH, even though you re in menopause where you already have high LH? Tgank you.

  19. Zinc really worked for me. I haven’t had to go for electrologist for facial hair as frequently. It really is life changing. I wish I had known about it earlier, it would have save me lots of money!!!

    • Is it really? All of the information I see online claims for zinc is that it increases testosterone in men AND women. I have Zinc Sulfate vitamins but I’m afraid it’ll increase my androgens.

      Low carb, keto, and a generally healthy diet has never significantly reduced or helped with my symptoms in years. It’s just not strong as medication. However, birth control also worsened my symptoms too when I got off of it. It seems like you can’t win with chronic conditions versus acute ones.

  20. Hello Laura! Many thanks for this information. I was prescribed pill form Angus Castus (Vitex) a few years ago and it really helped with PMS symptoms very quickly. I kept taking it for a few months and then stopped.
    I decided to try it again as symptoms worsened , this time home grinding the berries and drinking as tea (daily, one level tea spoon).
    I started 6 weeks ago and am now 2 weeks late with my period. I have always been regular as clockwork since a teenager.
    I had an ultra sound Recently (unrelated) but thy did confirm all was healthy (no PLOS), plenty of eggs etc
    They did say they saw the reason I had severe pain, something about texture of a wall but said it wasn’t anything to be concerned with.
    Anyway.. I’d like to know your thoughts.. I stop taking AC the other day as a little worried about being soo late.
    May I ask if you have any thoughts/recommendations?
    Thank you!

  21. Do you have a natural safe progesterone or herbs that can be taken together to get the same results as what’s in progesterone?

  22. Hi I was diagnosed with pcos because of my irregular periods years ago. Well I’ve lost weight and had my 3 baby which made my period normal. But I still have bad acne and facial hair and body hair. I’m
    30 years old what can I do?

  23. Hi!
    I’m Deborah, I’ve read your book with great pleasure. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 16 and I was put on the pill.
    My main symptom are: amenorrhea and hirsutism, but androgens are in normal range (but in upper limits).
    I came off the pill a year ago, in this year I followed a low glycemic index diet, integrated Vit B, Zinc and Myo inositol, and also I drink spearmint and licorice root tea daily. Despite Pcos, I’m lean!
    ln this year I only had 2 anovulatory cycles (110 days and 190 days).
    I can’t ovulate on my own despite all the changes. I would like to try cyclic progesterone therapy for 3 months.
    I was wondering if continuing with myo inositol is recommended during progesterone therapy?
    Thanks! ♥️

    PS. Excuse any errors, I’m Italian.
    Greetings from Italy

  24. Hi Lara, my grandmother, mother and maternal aunts all had a slightly hairy upper lip, I inherited it and so did my daughter. She’s only 7, is there any way I can prevent it from getting worse as she goes through puberty? Also is there anything I can do to minimize unwanted body hair ( for her).
    Any comments will be greatly appreciated, thank you

  25. I have been taking a peony and licorice combination for about a month and a half now and have brought about my period. Do I continue to take this supplement? Or should I discontinue?

  26. Thank you SO much for the fast response, and actually all the work you do… To me is all a new world of hope with PCOS 🙂
    I truly am badly surprised. My thougts on most medicine and maaany doctors who “treated” me, are actually based on masculine medicine to treat us like “erratic male biologies” with patches (with hundreds of side effects).

    Thank you again, Dr. Lara

    Looking forward reading your book!!

  27. Hello Dr. Lara,

    I am quite confused, because trying to find information on zinc, it appears everywhere as something that helps body increase testosterone to build muscle etc.
    Therefore, how does it work with PCOS? And why is it common to be associated with that? As you say it is useful as an anti androgenic…
    I am sorry in advance for my lack of knowledge on these subjects, but I would be really glad if you could enlighten me somehow 🙂

    Thank you!

    • everything that you’re reading is written for men! In women, zinc has different effects because women are different from men.
      Zinc helps to normalise health and so it can reduce the abnormal situation of excess testosterone in women.

  28. After taking an anti-androgen supplement for a while and the androgens lower, will my period come back on it’s own/regularly? Or is there anything else in addition to “jump start” regular periods?

  29. Dear Dr Lara, I have read that reishi mushroom helps in family planning i.e. to avoid conception so on ttc reishi should be avoided, is this correct?

  30. Hi Lara!

    I have read and really enjoyed your book! I just got off of HBC as of this Monday, and I have been on and off if it for 10 years and I have a weird history of my period. My old gyno just got rid of all of my records 🙁 so he doesnt have old blood tests but I used to be on a Natures-Thiro Medication and progesterone cream when I was off BC. BUT I got my thyroid tested a few months ago and everything looked normal (they didnt test T3 though). Anyways, I am hopeful but I am sure my periods will be irregular again being off the pill. Last time I got off, I had a “regular” cycle for 5 months then it stopped for 3 so my gyno said I should get back on HBC..ugh. So here we are again – off HBC and hopeful 🙂

    I bought Vitex but I saw you said we should wait at least 3 months for the HBC to get out of our systems.

    Do you have any recommendations/advice to give me?

  31. Hi there,

    Dealing with all issues related to high androgrens such as hair loss, unwanted hair growth, and acne. I just started taking zinc based upon this article. I have already been taking DIM and it has slowly started to help with acne. my hair is continuing to shed. this all started when I switched birth control pills and then stopped in December. it has been extremely debilitating but I will never go back on birth control pills. I am hoping to stop this naturally. I am going to try the peony and licorice combination but I’m not sure what supplement to get or how to take them. do you have one that you recommend?

  32. Hello. I came off birth control of 10 years in May of last year because I developed melasma after prolonged amounts of stress from severe emotional abuse. I had a hormone panel done a few months ago because I started rapidly losing hair, cystic acne started ( I thought it was bad Then, jeez), and hirsutism was just starting. All but the hair loss has gotten significantly worse. All hormones and thyroid tested normal. All of this started with a very quick onset in October. I lost 15 pounds, an am far too thin (for my size I am just on the border of underweight). I am trying hard to fix my skin, so just on an organic meat and vegetable diet with quinoa and nuts- no gluten, dairy, processed food, soy, vegetable oils (just olive and coconut), rare alcohol or corn for 6 months, off fruit for the last month (it’s awful and not helping), didn’t eat eggs for 3 months, eaten them for the past month and acne seems worse. Taking fish oil, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, Vitamin D and a women’s probiotic daily. No gynecologist or PCP will diagnose me with PCOS. They want me to try Spiro, but I really don’t want to because I am afraid to exacerbate the melasma. What would you recommend?

  33. I read the article and am a bit confused because one minute you are recommending something because it inhibits 5-alpha reductase and, then, the next paragraph will recommend something because it up-regulates 5-alpha reductase. Which is it?

    • I say prolactin up-regulates 5-alpha reductase. Therefore, if prolactin is the main cause of excess androgens, then Vitex can be helpful.

  34. Hello. I have 2 big issues I’d like natural remedies for. Nodules on thyroid, and too much sebum (which caused extreme shininess and acne). Spiro has helped with the skin a lot, but I’d prefer something natural. And for some reason (before spiro) my eyebrows are about 75% gone. Any advice most appreciated. I am female, 48 years old. Thanks.

  35. Thank you! I had a hysterectomy to remove 5 large fibroids 3 years ago and since experienced extreme hormonal issues; especially dark and course facial hair. I am very fair (natural beige) and it is incredibly embarrassing. My thyroid levels got tested a year ago and we’re normal. I still experience hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, poor circulation, poor temperature regulation, brittle/shedding hair, and dry skin. I’m definitely going to try the Zinc and Magnesium. I’m also ordering ashwagandha and white peony supplements. I and every female in my family (started cycles early and had to have a hysterectomy by 40) need your book!

  36. Hello, thank you very much for this informative post. I’m considering stopping the birth control pill but I am worried about acne. I stopped the pill once before and had bad cystic acne – I only waited a year and a half but saw no improvement so I took the pill again. I’ve read your book Period Repair Manual which I’m using to better prepare my body before stopping the pill. The problem I’m having, however, is that I tried to take zinc but it gives me really bad stomach aches. I can take a tablet for two days and be fine, but by the third day the stomach spasms start. I read that the pain I’m experiencing after taking zinc could be due to low stomach acid. Is that your understanding too? Is there anything I could do to better tolerate the zinc supplements? Or should I eat zinc-rich foods instead? For info, I used Thorne zinc picolinate 15mg (which apparently is 136% of Daily Value) and I also tried another liquid version with one cap providing only 15% of RDA (and only took one cap per day) and still had stomach pains. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, as zinc seems so useful to lower androgen and prevent acne. Many thanks

    • Are you careful to always take the zinc directly after a large meal? It can help to take it in the middle of a large meal, so food before and after.

      • Thanks Lara. Yes I do take it with meals but I haven’t tried in the middle of a meal (I usually take it before I start my meal), so I will try that. Fingers crossed! 🙂 Thanks again

        • For what it’s worth I have had the most success with taking zinc a full 20 mins or more after I eat dinner. I have gotten immediate nausea when taking it either before, during, or right after a meal, especially if it’s breakfast and it’s the first food I’m ingesting. I take 50mg and experience no stomach pain when waiting until after I’ve eaten my food.

          • Thanks very much for your replies. I actually got my zinc levels tested and the results came back today. According to their range, it doesn’t look too bad: 655 ug/l and 10 umol/l (although it’s not a u but a funny looking Greek sign!). Apparently the range is: 551-925 and 8.4-14.2, respectively. Could I may be getting stomach pains because I’m not deficient in zinc so my body doesn’t need all that supplementation? I’m still getting some pain even when I take it after a meal (although the pain is not nearly as bad, so thanks for the advice).

        • Hi Cindy, just one more idea for you- you could try taking half of your supplement at a time. If the brand you have is a tablet, just cut them in half; if it’s a capsule open it and pour half out. I buy powdered zinc and fill my own capsules. According to Chris Masterjohn, PHD in nutrition (check out his website for more info), you can only absorb about 7-8mg of zinc at a time anyway. I try to take it 3-4 times a day instead of a larger dose once. It’s possible that a smaller dose might bother your stomach less, but yes, high zinc foods such as oysters and red meat could be another good alternative for you. And make sure to consume your zinc supplements/foods away from high phytate foods.

  37. Hi Lara, you recommend Kan Herbs Peony/ Licorice in your book but can you please advise what dosage you prescribe? The recommended dosage on the bottle seems like it could be too high (3-4 capsules 3 times a day) and is aimed at reducing pain, not testosterone. I’ve bought the bottle now but am unsure how much to take.

    • Hi Bryce, In Dr. Briden’s book she recommends the brand Kan Herbs peony/licorice. I got mine from amazon. It improved my skin 95% in 2 months! But you have to take many tablets a day. 2 tablets, 3x a day, every day!

  38. Hi Lara,

    In addition to facial hair, I have hormonal breakouts due to PCOS. Would any of these supplements help with that issue as well?

    Look forward to your feedback.

    Thank you!

  39. Hi Lara, thanks so much for this fantastic information.
    I have mouth & chin acne since turning 30. I presume it is hormonal. I have never been on the pill.
    Recently I have started evening primrose with vit B6, this has made it flare up more. I have just read that B6 can cause more androgens so I am stopping taking both. I have had acid stomach problems recently too. My diet is good, I am mostly vegetarian so I understand from your article that I probably need zinc. I dont eat too much dairy, I do have black tea with milk afew times each day. I could probably up my fibre intake.
    I wonder is ZInc and Berberine safe to start taking together?
    Will this disrupt my gut? do I need a Probiotic also?

    Thanks so so much,
    this is the best information I have come across in my years of research,

  40. Lara, I’ve been taking peony and licorice and just got a positive pregnancy test yesterday. Should I continue the p&l? If not to I quit entirely or wean off? Thank you

  41. Hi Lara,
    Since reading your book several months ago, I’ve been using zinc, magnesium, and progesterone cream to help control my acne and extreme mood swings, with very good results (thank you so much for that!) However, I recently added both DIM and spearmint capsules to try and treat my hirsutism, which is severe and covers my entire body. Two months after adding the spearmint and DIM, I’m already starting to see some slowing of the hair growth, however my acne has flared back up, and I’m now experiencing month-round breast pain, which was never a problem before. Any idea why this would happen? Do I need to stop taking the DIM and spearmint?
    This is extremely discouraging, as this would be the second time I’ve had to stop an effective hirsutism treatment due to side effects (I had good luck with spironolactone before it started messing with my blood pressure). Any extra help you could give me would be very much appreciated. Thank you!

  42. Hi lara i hope you could help period always delayed and i though i was pregnant but it failed..i got my check.up and the result i have ob gave me this oral contraceptive pills to regulate my period..cyproterone acetate ethinyl estradiol(althea) is it good?after taking for almost 6 mos..i got my period every 26 days..what should i do?we want to concieve,i was planning to get pregnant

  43. Hi Laura im 42 here are the results for sme lab tests i did on the 3rd day of my cycle: LH 2,6 ML ; FSH 4.4ml; Prolactin 36,8 mç and beta estradiol 26 ml..also my fasting insulin resistance 8.6 ml …do you think this is ok…? My period is now cut in half just 2 days and ive been feeling miserable wiyh lots of pms symptoms …Can magnesium or berberine help me ??


  44. You are the first writer on this topic to be so clear, go into such holistic depth, and to clearly have the greater good of those of us struggling with this at heart. Thank you!!! (- a woman with adrenal PCOS symptoms)

  45. Hi Lara, I have read through your article and I would love if you vould provide me with some guidance.

    I have been diagnosed with PCOS for about about six years now. I was placed on combined oral contraceptive to help with my hirsutism. Tests at the time showed I did not suffer from insulin resistance and my testorone levels were not extremely high, which makes me believe I suffer from hypersensitivity.

    I came off the pill about 2 years ago trying to concieve, my period did not return, however i did fall pregnant 9 months after starting to try, still no period that whole time (but obviously still ovulating) I am now breastfeeding my 3 month old and I am at a loss of how to deal with my hirsutism which is out of control. I have a beard, chest hair and snail trail worse than my partner. I dont even want to leave my house. Could you please offer me some insight on what supplements I should be taking?

    Thank you so much.

  46. Hello, I have had facial hair since late teens which has progressively gotten worse as I have 43. I get very very oily hair within 12 hours of washing and my hair is thinning mainly through the top, I get acne, put on weight around my middle and have heavy periods. I do however have a regular cycle and ovulation, had 3 kids easily. I get really bad PMSand am quite angry for a few days before. Desperate for answers and help! leisa

  47. Hi Lara,

    So with proper diet and supplements is it possible for dark facial hair to go away completely in women with PCOS given enough time?

  48. I think using natural supplements are great for some people although for myself having experienced the severe physical symptoms one doesn’t realize how desperate some of us are for relief even if it comes in the form of a prescription drug.

  49. Hi Laura,

    I am a 59 years old and Post Menopause. After a year of high stress 50% of my hair has fallen out and new hair is not growing. I had a scalp biopsy to confirm androgenic alopecia and the dermatologist precribed Spironolactone. I did a saliva cortisol test which showed high cortisol and low DHEA. The saliva progesterone was normal at 53 and the progesterone from bloodwork was .27. Estradiol was 5, Testosterone free and total was 7.7. Testosterone, free was .07. My thyroid panel was normal. I have a good amount of the fine blond facial hair that I have to continuously pull out. I am trying to final another treatment other than the Spironolactone and read your article about Androgenic Sensitivity and want to know what you think I should take. I am trying to keep my stress under control but it is difficult where I now need a topper or hat. My naturopath has me taking Cortisol Manager and had me on biodentical hormone replacement which I stopped due to increased shedding and the advise of the dermatologist. The naturopath is going along with the recommendation of the dermatologist rather than help me figure out what to do otherwise. I would really appreciate your advise.

  50. Hi Lara,

    I recently read your book and found it so helpful. I’m wondering if any of your patients with migraines have had problems taking the peony/licorice combination? I’ve had migraines for over a decade and found that licorice was a huge trigger for them. I went off of hormonal birth control in March to try to work on managing my PCOS naturally, and I’m interested in the peony/licorice, but I’m worried it will trigger migraines. Any thoughts?


    • thanks for your comment. My experience is that yes, any of the herbs that stimulate the HPO (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian) axis can potentially worsen migraines. Also, licorice potentially stimulates a histamine release. So peony and licorice may not be the best choice for you but, fortunately, there are other options.

  51. Licorice in case of fibroid?

    Hello Mrs Lara. I struggle finding the right answer about Licorice as a plant with estrogen effects that many are recommending in treating menstrual problem and high testosterone. But what should i do if i have a cyst and a small fibroid which had also grown from my last session of BC pill?

    Can phytoestrogen plants do more bad than good in this case? I do have high free t and only on cysts with amenorheea. Not sure about fsh/lh ratio. I uderstand if this is not good, vitex is also not an option? Thank you

    • Yes, my understanding is that it’s good. It probably should have been on this list, but I haven’t used it much.

  52. Dr Lara Briden, please share your views on a product called EstroG100. I read about it, and would greatly appreciate your opinion. I am 43 and beginning to feel the symptoms of declining estrogen (I take progesterone for the last 14 days of my cycle). Thanks

  53. Are peony & licorice teas strong enough if i have several tablespoons boiled up a day or do I need to buy them in extract form?
    P.S. thanks for all your wonderful articles.

  54. It was so useful thank you so much. I would like to read your book and even translate it to Turkish so then many other people would take benefits from your knowledge. Regards

  55. Hi Lara,

    I have your book and believe I have HA due to restrictive eating. I did a male hormone panel and the doc said I was within normal ranges but when I looked online it looked high.

    What is considered out of normal ranges for Total Testosterone & Free T?

    Mine are:

    43 ng/dl – Total T
    0.6 ng/dl – Free T

  56. Can you combine peony and licorice with progesterone in a biphasic support of the cycle, so taking P+L before ovulation, and then progesterone? In case of PCOS?

    • I sometimes recommend something similar with my patients, using Professor Prior’s “cyclic progesterone therapy.”

  57. Hello Lara I have your book and I love it! It’s helped me turn my health around since being diagnosed with PCOS. But I’m struggling with bad hirritusim and my hair is falling out, I don’t have acne any more as I was on reacutanne for that. I’ve recently done my bloods and everything is normal except my testosterone is very high and I have no cycle! I have had a “period” both last month and this month for the first time since stopping the pill over a year ago. I’ve just joined the gym and that seamed to have brought the “period” on ! But I’m not ovulating or having a cycle is what was picked up in my bloods. So my question what is the best solution of supplements for me to use ?? Paint and licorice ? Alpha lipoic acid ? Vitex Catex? Thanks in advance

    • Did you get an ultrasound on your ovaries recently? It might help clear up somethings.I know a little of how you feel. I’m 18 and my body is literally keep try to grow a scraggly beard and I have hideous dark little patches along my jaw-line.I went to the doctor but she did not diagnose me with pcos because my ovaries look and function as normal.However, for some strange reason I have higher testosterone levels than normal(I suspect it’s my adrenal glands) .But I did not go with the option of birth-control as the doctor suggested.I decided to take a more natural approach and take tree-chaste supplement.In less than a week of taking this supplement, my dark patches became noticeably lighter and my skin from head to toe feels somewhat softer and healthier I”M SERIOUS.I highly recommend at least trying it. I hope it gives you same great results as what I’m experiencing! 🙂

  58. Hi Lara, I’m having difficulty finding peony and licorice combined. Can you recommend somewhere to buy in Australia or online, or a preferred brand and/or dose? Thanks so much.

  59. I have extreme shedding of my hair….my Dr. said I have high blood insulin causing hair loss and dark stubs growing on my legs…….No Diabetis,!!… have low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia)….I am so confused and upset…I’ve been taking magnesium like you said and I love it…….cut out sugar dairy and wheat only gluten free….when I told my Dr.about gluten free he told me it’s bad and causes more insulin….I don’t know what to do now p.s….was on metformin to lower high blood insulin……but had to stop it was causing me stomach problems……Lara I love your site and would love any input you can give me….also I will try Dim…..hope this isn’t TMI….thanks so much for all your info…..Sandra

    • p.s…..I forgot to mention Dr.said Hi blood insulin causes male hormones which in turn causes hair loss…..Sandra

  60. Hello.i read your article and i wonder if u could help me,feels like u know what u are talking about.I have been on drug called spironolactone for few years as hairloss plus gaining hair in unwanted places,problem with skin.My gp sent me to endocrine doctor who very quickly told me that i do not have too much testosterone and i do not have polycystic overies (he told me that only by looking into my blood)and i am too sensitive to any trstosterone beeing in my body.I was put inmplant in with progesterone before i started spironolactone as danger if pregnant.It did help my skin and stoped my hair groving so fast in unwanted places,but i had still hairloss.Few months ago i started eating reihi as experiment but my skin went very very dry so i cut only to 2 pills a day.My skin on my back and decolde is very bad,i do get fast hairy where i dont want ,hairloss still there.I am hopeless what should i do,what test i should ask qp to do….after so many years i just dont know …i be very greatfull for answer.

  61. I have PCOS since i was 16. Now I am 29 it started with irregular periods and had an ultrasound which confirmed a cyst. I was not started on any treatment. After marriage I moved to US and they started me on birth control which i stopped using due to nausea. Later when i got pregnant they confirmed my diagnosis of PCOS due to a cyst present at that time. I went ahead and had a healthy baby. My hair started changing on my face. It became thicker. With my 2nd and 3rd pregnancy it was too obvious, the male pattern baldness and hair on chin and now at neck and sideburns. I have been on metformin 1500 mg extended release tablets. I have irregular periods(which became regular with metformin). I had my baby daughter 10 months ago and got my first period last week.

    I had laser done that did not work currently going through electrolysis. I am a beautiful woman but i feel i am loosing my confidence and living in shadows of my facial hair and tired of hiding bald spots with hair fibers. Weight is also an issue i am 5.4 147 pounds. Not obese but i work out 5 days a week for past 5 months i have only lost 4 pounds.

    Please suggest me a regimen with dosing. My blood sugar levels fasting were never high. should i stop metformin and switch to d-chiro, spearmint, calcium and any other supplements?

    • Hi I’m in the same boat as you but I’ve only conceived one child I’m not able to hear pregnant I’m on birth control and I hate it. I’m talking to my doctor on Monday about metaform.

    • I’m very sorry to hear that Affifa.I know at least some of how you feel. I’m 18 and I have literally been growing a scraggly beard and hideous dark little patches along my jaw-line.I went to the doctor but she did not diagnose me with pcos because my ovaries look and function as normal.However, for some strange reason I have higher testosterone levels than normal(I suspect it’s my adrenal glands) .But I did not go with the option of birth-control as the doctor suggested.I decided to take a more natural approach and take tree-chaste supplement. I kid you not that less than a week of taking this supplement, my dark patches became noticeably lighter and my skin from head to toe feels somewhat softer and healthier.I highly recommend at least trying it. I hope it gives you same great results as what I’m experiencing! 🙂

      • Courtney, did Tree Chaste help with unwanted facial hair on the upper lip area? I can’t take DHEA, DIM, Synthroid, or prescription Progesterone pills because they cause cystic acne. Progesterone cream hasn’t helped, so now I’m experimenting applying it the my lip area.

  62. Hello, Thank you for your article! 🙂 Could you please advise me what is best for me to take and what dosage to deal with increased Androstendion, lots of facial hair and acne (without PCOS). I tried Zink which made my acne better, but increased my facial hair 🙁
    Thank you!

  63. Hi Dr Briden, I am curious what is considered to be elevated prolactin. Mine is 35.7 ng/mL. Would Reishi Mushroom help lower this because it prevents 5 alpha reductase?

  64. I have bought the most recent version of your book and it has been very helpful. I know I have low progesterone, and despite my estrogen being low too, is higher than progesterone during my luteal phase. I am hoping to try a natural progesterone cream that I can find in the UK. However, I am a little concerned that this will further sensitise my body to androgens. I have hirsutism and I was tempted to try Saw Palmetto, please could you elaborate as to why you don’t like prescribing it ( you do not mention this in your book apart from that you prefer zinc and peony/licorice combo)? I would have thought peony and licorice would exacerbate the high estrogen to progesterone ratio in the second half of my cycle? Unfortunately, I do think a permanent solution is electrolysis, as these supplements cannot be taken forever.

    • If your estrogen is higher than your progesterone in your luteal phase, then you do not have a luteal phase– i.e. you’re not ovulating. Your #1 strategy is to figure out WHY you don’t ovulate and fix that. Is it PCOS? Is it insulin resistance? Is it thyroid? Are you undereating? Do you have the new edition of my book?

      And, in answer to your question, no natural progesterone does not sensitize the body to androgens. It’s an androgen blocker.

  65. Hi,
    You write that zinc “decreases androgens.” Most of the information out there is that zinc actually increases androgens. It is a “masculine” mineral so to speak. It increases T and DHT, here’s just a few links: , One study found that “men who received 30 milligrams of zinc per day showed increased levels of free testosterone in their bodies.” It could still have anti-androgenic outcomes via some other pathway, but it seems like zinc is praised by bodybuilders who want to increase their androgens.

    • Um. Yes, zinc boosts testosterone in MEN because zinc makes men healthier and supports testicular function.
      Women are not men. When the mineral makes women healthier and supports ovarian function, it improves the abnormal state of excess testosterone production.

  66. I have extreme and rapid hair loss. All tests came back normal except for Androstenedione which was very high. TSH, testosterone, estrogen etc were all normal. Progesterone was low but not off the charts low. Not getting my period now. Had mirena which I suspect caused all this but it was removed one year ago. My question- how do I lower Androstenedione specifically since this appears to be the only hormone problem I have at this time. Insulin is normal as well.

    • Hi Amy, I just read this and I have exactly the same problem. High androstenedione with all other hormone levels normal. I have been diagnosed with androgenic Alopecia which either started or got so much worse 3 years ago when I went off the pill. I have lost at least 60% of my hair in this time. I hope Lara can provide some help on lowering androstenedione and what can cause it to be high when all other levels seem normal, there is such limited information about it online. Thanks in advance Lara 🙂

  67. Hi Lara,

    I thought people with autoimmune diseases should avoid reishi mushroom but you say;
    Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) inhibits 5-alpha reductase which is the enzyme that converts testosterone to the more potent DHT hormone. Reishi has many other health benefits including immune enhancement and stabilization of the HPA (adrenal) axis.

    I’ve read that it’s immune boosting and should be avoided when you have Hashimotos. Please can you clear my confusion up?

    Also, I have low estrogen, and testosterone. I actually have good progesterone, My Androsterone is in the high end of the range and my Etiocholanolone is in the low end of the range, which means I have high 5 alpha reductase activity. Yet my DHT is in the low end of the range. I have female patten balding and cystic acne, the worst area being my chin. Would the high 5 alpha reductase activity be causing my acne and female pattern balding, even though my testosterone and DHT are on the low side? I’ve tried zinc, berberine, saw palmetto, spearmint tea, bioidentical estrogen, I’m dairy free for years etc and I still have acne. I tried DIM too but it caused pelvic pain so I had to stop. You’ve said DIM can lower estrogen so perhaps that’s why it caused pain. I’m at a loss what to do!

    • Neeta, taking prescription Progesterone, DIM, DHEA, and low-dose Synthroid pills all caused cystic acne on my chin and lower face. I didn’t try them all at once. Also, taking prescription Estrogen caused uterine fibroids that had to be treated with Progesterone.

  68. Hey Lara, if you have a short luteal phase (only 9 days), ovulate late in the cycle (around day 18), and have hirsutism (slim PCOS) as well as endometriosis, could you take peony and licorice as well as Vitex?

  69. Hello Lara, Thanks for the extensive info on PCOS. I find few websites and practitioners have as much experience and clarity about women’s health issues. I started Zinc gluconate (30mg daily) for high T and PCOS with high hopes. However I started bleeding every week and then went on to have a full period at the date it was expected. I was already getting regular periods after starting T3 treatment for a year prior (34 yrs old). I never had regular periods before T3; cycle length was 70-90 days. What should I make of this? I believe Zn was helping me because I noticed benefits in my hair texture which has turned extremely coiled and unmanageable due to high T, plus hirsutism/acne showed small improvements. Don’t know what to make of the bleeding. I also have low cortisol and DHEA. This disease has robbed me of my youth and enthusiasm. Have lost all hope.

    • Zinc shouldn’t cause irregular bleeding but it CAN interfere with the absorption of your thyroid medication (which could then affect your period). Were you careful to take the zinc and T3 at different times of day?

      • Thanks for replying promptly! I did not space out the Zn and medication. However I never have had frequent bleeding in my life. So I dont know if this was a problem of absorption or something else caused by the Zn. I know Zn lowers cortisol, since I was already low on cortisol, perhaps it caused even more havoc? I am trying to half my dose for now as I see a lot of improvements in skin and eyesight with the Zn which I want to continue. I am also on Hydrocortisone for adrenals and I feel awesome! Thank you Lara! The recommendations of Zn and Mg supplements are likely to turn this around completely for me. In all my years of research, I could not have come up with that.

  70. Hi,
    I have recently had blood test and pelvian echo done and my doctors don’t really agree if I have PCO or not. My testosterone levels are within the norm but on the high side and my androgen levels a little high. DHEAS are within the norm, a bit high. I don’t have cholesterol or diabetes…I do have very irregular cycles and hirsutism…one doctor says do nothing the other wants to give anti androgen tablet and Diane 35 but I am reluctant to.
    I want to find a natural remedy that works for me. In the last 6 months I have lost around 15 kg and have changed my diet and I exercise a lot so I think I am ok food wise…
    I was researching and was thinking of taking Saw Palmetto with zinc – what do you reckon?

  71. You have a lot of great suggestions in terms of supplements to add to our daily regimen, but I don’t see dosages for each one, except Zinc and DIM. How much would you recommend we take (if it’s guided by the appropriate medical professionals) of Licorice, Peony, Reishi Mushrooms, Vitex, Saw Palmetto, and Progesterone?

  72. Coming across your website was the best thing happened to me. I am a vegeteraian and was struggling with PCOS for the last 5 years. I got 3-4 periods annually and used to spot for months.My BMI was normal but I had abnormal levels of LDL and triglycerides, defieicent in VIT D and Vit B12 and Low level of SHBG. After going through series of articles on your website, I quit sugar completely, included good fats, started doing yoga and included supplements to address the deficiences. In three months time, I stated ovulating with regualar periods, every 33 days and my blood test came normal on all counts. I am officially declared PCOS free by my GP.Thank you so much Lara.

      • Hey how are you Lara?
        Can you help me with this?
        after 1 year I stopped the pill I was 9 months without menstruating. all
        the doctors recommend me go back to the pill. I was in the dermato here in Holland, I counted on the high of androstenedione hirutism and acne and she recommended me diuretic espinorolactone. I bought zinc what other treatment do you tell me? and can this diuretic affect the absorption of zinc?

  73. Hi Lara, based on your experience in treating patients, which of the above mentioned anti androgens would you prescribe for hairloss due to excess androgens?

    • Any of them could be helpful. Most often I prescribe zinc and peony and licorice. Also, I’m giving DIM more and more these days.

      • What would you recommend as the most accurate assay of measuring free Testosterone? The labs in my area offer RIA, EIA as well as the option to calculate it using Total Testosterone, SHBG and Albumin. And my results have not been consistent across these three methods. Which one would be most reliable, doctor?

  74. Hi, Lara! I have a doubt. How do I know if I have a hormonal imbalance? Mine are in the normal range according to the lab and the doctors, but maybe I have a slight imbalance, because I’m getting cyclic acne for more than 6 months now and laser hair removal doesn’t seem to be working for me. I started taking the pill for acne in my teens and came off it one year ago. Anyway, is 34 ng/dl high for testosterone? What about LH being much higher than FSH (14 ui/l, 3 ui/l)? My estradiol e2 was 208 pg/ml and I have no idea about my progesterone. That was day 21 of a 42-day cycle, so I guess it was the follicular fase. Sorry if this is a very specific question, I don’t know about any open-minded doctors I can consult where I live. 🙁 I’m actually thinking about going back on the pill because my diet is already sugar and dairy-free, the last blood test I took showed no zinc deficiency (I’m a vegetarian), and it’s all so hard to fix on your own and I really want clear skin again. I’ll miss my sex drive though.

  75. Do you take patients I’m having a hard time with doctors here they keep putting me on progesterone and I think I’m low estrogen I feel sick fat and pregnant on it no one will listen

  76. Hi Dr Lara,
    I ovulate regularly. My fasting insulin is high at 13.02 uIU/ml. I have all the symptoms of androgen excess: hirsutism in the chin area, jawline acne and hairloss. However my androgen measures are all within range: Free testosterone of 1.05 pg/ml, DHEAS is 215.4 microgram/dl and Androstenedione is at 2.06 ng/ml. I came off Diane 35 in February and had a massive breakout around May. After reading your book, I also tested deficient in Zinc and I’ve been supplementing 22mg and this has helped reduce the jawline acne a bit. My ultrasound reported multiple peripheral cysts in my ovaries. Going by my Fasting insulin levels and the symptoms of hirsutism, acne and hairloss could I still be suffering from insulin resistance PCOS despite the androgen levels being within range? What else should I be taking in addition to Zinc to help minimise the symptoms?

  77. Hi Lara,

    I have high testosterone, low progesterone (81 pg/mL) , and low DHEAS. I took vitex for 6-8 months and have been taking saw palmetto for 8 months too. My cycles are 28-32 days and my temperatures suggest I ovulate, but have a short luteal phase (only 8 days). Do you think I have PCOS? Also, I’m allergic to fructose so I was wondering if peony and licorice would be okay to take? Are there any side effects of taking zinc? Thank you!

  78. Hi Lara,

    I have sudden onset of hirsutism and hair loss after taking a few courses of antibiotics. Will these improve with natural treatments?

    Thank you.

  79. I have been doing facial hair removal for some years now as I have have had extra hair since I turned 20 or so (am now 36). If the hirsutism improves, would the hair stop growing even though I’ve been threading it? Also, my father is very hairy, and I’ve always wondered if this could simply be hereditary. If so, is it still treatable?

    • New research is discovering that when lots of hairs are plucked from the same area (over a certain threshold of density of plucking) the body will produce brand new hairs to compensate.

      Plucking is bad. I would try laser or electrolysis instead, even then, the issue of hairs being plucked during the electrolysis process is problematic.

      • I dont think i have pcos

        My periods are always on time
        But they are painfull
        I have oily skin
        Oily hair
        Ance around mouth area and cheeks cystic acne

        I have been on diane 35 for 2 years and i stopped since 5 months.

  80. Hi Dr. Briden,

    Do you take the Reishi mushroom in a pill form? Any brands you recommend? Also, any certain brand of DIM you prefer? I see pure encapsulations makes a 100mg DIM. I am very sensitive to fillers. Thank you!

    • I’m wondering the same about DIM brands. I’ve been taking a 200mg capsule of DIM for eight months solely for cystic neck acne (42 years old) and the problem has worsened. I’ve also been taking zinc and mag. Is it a brand problem or that DIM is not for me?

      • Is there anything else about the situation? Like do you have Mirena? or have you come off a pill in the last 12 months?

  81. Hello.
    I have been reading your post and i wonder if u can give me some advice. I am 24m3 and i have been on diane35 for 1 year and i was happy with this pill because i never had acne and suddenly i started to break out, like the pill was not working anymore.. i stopped in february and now still i suffer from acne around mouth and cheeks.. my hear looks dead all the time.. and i see i have more hairgrowing.. i tried primrose oil but after 3 weeks it gave me cystic acne… i read about DIM and reishi mushroom… and my period is always on time..

  82. Hi Lara!
    What about topical treatments for hirsutism? Topical zinc, progesterone cream directly on the site of hair growth, or perhaps herbs? Have any of these been looked at?
    I am also wondering about evening primrose, which I see mentioned around the internet, but haven’t seen a good professional explanation of why/how it might help.
    Thank you!

    • yes, I do sometimes recommend topical progesterone cream for my patients (but only during the luteal phase). I think I have seen a study of topical zinc but now I can’t find it.

  83. thank you for the detailed explanation, it helps in making decisions because the research alone is daunting. I finally found a wonderful doctor who promotes natural remedies instead of medication. I’m on many of the supplements you mentioned. Recently thought of additionally using evening primrose oil. I had a successful smooth pregnancy without trying when I was 24. I’m now 30 & have been trying for another child for 2 yrs. With no success.

  84. Hi Lara,
    What combination do you think works best for someone with idiopathic hirsutism (and no PCOS)? I am on birth control, in case that effects your answer. Thank you!

  85. Hello,

    First of all, I have to express how thankful I am for all of your work Dr. Briden. I have struggled with irregular periods, hair loss, hirsutism and fatigue. I read the Period Repair Manual about 6 weeks ago and have now had 2 successful periods and clear signs of ovulation. I just have a quick question regarding your supplement recommendations for PCOS, which I have followed for the last 6 weeks.

    These are the supplements that I am taking:

    Fish Oil

    Alpha lipoid acid (ALA)

    My question is about the last three supplements. Is it safe to take all three together? If so, when should I stop taking them?

    Thank you for your dedication to helping women balance their hormones and live the life we have all dreamt of!


  86. Thank you for the great article Lara! When you say “quit sugar” do you simply mean quit cane sugar or does that also includ certain fresh fruit and what about using low-glycemic coconut sugar?

  87. Hi Lara,
    What brand of reishi do you recommend? Do you use tea/tinctures/pills? I’ve read a study where red reishi in particular was found to be an effective anti-androgen and I’m curious.

  88. What dosage of jsaw palmetto is good for PCOS? I have estrogen dominance and excess estrogen and testosterone so it’s probably a good product for me. I take zinc, omega 3 and progesterone cream, but my skin and hair are still greasy and fall out.

  89. What doses of saw palmetto are effective for symptoms of excess androgen? I have estrogen dominance so for me it would be helpful. Do you have any side effects?

  90. I just found out that I’m pregnant and I’ve struggled with acne the last 10 years. I’ve gotten them some how under control, but now that I’m 6 weeks their coming back. Mostly in blackheads. Juicy ones. This makes me so sad and frustrated. Is there anything I can do? Also my breasts are so sore, could this be due to lack of iodine? Or is it just supposed to be like this. hope to hear from you, Lara.

    • Heidi, I’ve read that taking B vitamins will help with breast tenderness. Have you tried Oxy 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash? Neutrogena makes a 5% one called Clear Pore.

      • Dr. Briden, I see that you propose using a 0.1% solution of topical melatonin for hair loss (in your book), but don’t name any particular brand. I’ve not uncovered any topical melatonin product that is intended for the scalp–would you have any recommendations? It would be amazing to learn that one exists. Thank you!

  91. Thanks for the info! So what combination and forms of these natural remedies would you suggest? Try all of them? I’ve been tested for PCOS and do not have it. My androgen levels are high however. I’ve taken Saw Palmetto for about 5 months and am not seeing much, but I didn’t want to quit yet. I’ve ruled out a lot of other things. I Crossfit so I’m high on the activity level and eat pretty balanced. Thanks!

    • If PCOS, I usually treat the underlying cause of PCOS and then give zinc plus DIM. In your case, I’d also want to know things like: Do you ovulate regularly?

      • Thanks for the reply!! I do ovulate regularly and my cycle stays pretty consistent. I have just wondered if there is something out of wack because of how much facial hair that comes in on my chin and neck. It’s dark and grows fast. I am Italian on my father’s side and my mom has a lot of body hair too, but I’d like to determine if it could be hereditary or something out of balance. Thanks again for your blog! It’s very informative and interesting.

        • Non-PCOS hirsutism is hard to treat which is why I wrote this post. These natural anti-androgen treatments can help but it could take a year or more. One final thought might be to check your prolactin because high prolactin causes hirsutism.

  92. What can be done to stop androgenic alopecia? I am using minoxidil and latanoprost for 2 months and there is no regrowth and my hair continues to get thinner every single day. My dht is 5-10 times higher than normal for a woman but my doctors wont prescribe anything bc all my other testerone levels are normal and they don’t seem to know anything at all about dht and hair loss. I went to a specialist whose protocol is oral dutasteride and topical latanoprost with topical dutasteride. Will any of the supplements u listed reverse androgenic alopecia? I literally cannot grow hair at all anymore. I need to do something asap but am nervous about taking medication. Have you found anything at all to stop androgenic alopecia? Btw, I don’t officially have pcos bc my blood sugar is now normal tho I was prediabetic briefly. I have hirsutism which has increases a lot and I have a lot of skin tags and an ultrasound in 2014 showed ovarian cysts but my endocrinologist says I don’t have pcos. What should I do to get my hair back?

    • are you certain you don’t have PCOS? It cannot be diagnosed (or ruled out) by ultrasound. Prediabetic with androgenic alopecia sounds a lot like insulin resistant PCOS.
      If you were my patient, I would test for “insulin resistance” with “fasting insulin” or “glucose tolerance test with insulin”. And then go from there.

      • I appreciate your response, Lara.

        Back in 2013, I had an ultrasound that showed ovarian cysts and I saw an endocrinologist who said that it looks like I could have PCOS but she did not diagnose it as PCOS 100%. She did say that I would be diabetic within a year if I did nothing and she wanted to prescribe Metformin I think but I declined because I wanted to reverse all of this by dietary changes.

        In 2015, a new doctor said that I was pre-diabetic. My blood sugar was 112, which I understand is just a little bit high. Again, she wanted to prescribe Metformin but I had been eating low carb for a few months and believed I could reverse it this way. I asked about the hair loss at the time and she tested thryoid, iron, vitamin d, etc. My vitamin D was very low but everything else was normal.

        She prescribed nothing else aside from vitamin d, and gave no other suggestions so I convinced myself that the vitamin d and low carb would stop the hair loss. Unfortunately, I became so stressed out that I stopped eating low carb.

        I then went to another doctor last October (2016) because I had realized that I had lost 70% of my hair and none of my hair was growing at all anymore. I have hair that is now “stuck” at shorter lengths (some hair is stuck at less than an inch in length, some is stuck at 2 inches, etc). Hair that all would grow the same long length, now it’s all been stunted and it has ruined my hair line and the front and sides and I look ridiculous. I have also lost 80% of all my hair all over my head, so while the front and sides are the worst, the rest of the hair has thinned out and gotten so stringy. It’s awful. Just 4 years ago, I had a ton of hair.

        Anyway, in October, my blood sugar was normal and the doctor was completely unconcerned about my hair loss. He tried to say that hair grows in phases…but that does not explain anything or help. This was not normal for me. I was referred to an endocrinologist who confirmed that I am was no longer pre-diabetic and without high blood sugar, I did not, could not have PCOS or insulin resistance. He said that my hair loss is probably “just genetic” and referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist said it is genetic, androgenic alopecia and that there was nothing to do other than try minoxidil. As I mentioned before, I had also seen a hair loss specialist who noted that the DHT levels on my blood work were 5-10 times higher than normal for a woman. The dermatologist basically said that this means nothing and that there would be no reason to prescribe an anti-androgen because all my testosterone levels (aside from the DHT, which they don’t look at) were normal. I had also pointed out that I had hirsutism and that it had increased 5 fold but she said that unless it gets worse, she would not prescribe an anti-androgen.

        I have a dr appt coming up so will do the test you recommended. What else can reverse this hair loss?

        I apologize for the long post. Thank you for your help!

        • A normal blood glucose reading cannot rule out insulin resistance. I hope your new doctor will look more closely by testing insulin.

          If you do have insulin resistance, you DON’T need to be low-carb. In fact, a low-carb diet almost always causes hair loss.

          • Hi Lara,

            My latest lab results show a fasting insulin of 14.9 uIU/mL. According to the reference range, this is normal and within range which is listed as anywhere from 2-19.6. My est ave glucose is 117 mg/dL.

            Total testosterone: 29 ng/dL
            free testosterone: 3.6 pg/mL
            DHEA: 141 ng/dL
            free estradiol: 5.06 pg/mL
            Prolactin: 7 ng/mL
            Hgb A1c: 5.7%
            T3 free: 2.7pg/mL
            T4 free: 1.19 ng/dL
            TSH: 1.569 mcIU/mL

            Does this still sound like insulin resistant PCOS? I am confused bc the last doctor said this is prediabetic but the doctors before that and the dermatologist I was just referred to for the androgenic alopecia said that my bloodwork is all normal and that I am not prediabetic or insulin resistant. I do have high DHT, but it was not included on this lab report.

            I have lost 70% of my hair overall, and have obvious thinning at the front, sides and temples. My hair has been destroyed. NONE of my hair will grow at all. I am very overweight, and used to be very thin. I also have tons of skin tags, which started growing when I was a skinny teenager.

            Please advise if you think that taking zinc and saw palmetto will stop the hair miniaturization and regrow my hair. The current dermatologist is willing to prescribe an anti-androgen but I am nervous about it because I don’t know if there are any potential side effects from these medications with regard to ovarian reserve and egg quality.

            I did see another hair specialist last year, as I have mentioned in my previous posts and his program is to prescribe a low dose of dutasteride, like one pill a week as well as a topical dutasteride and latanoprost to regrow hair. Since the does is low, is it safe? I don’t want to further damage my hormones or my egg quality.

            Please let me know what you recommend to regrow my hair and reverse the PCOS, if that is what this is.

            I am going back to the current dermatologist next week and I have to make a decision by then about taking an anti-androgen or if I should try some supplements. Can any supplements really reverse the hair loss?

            Thank you for your help.

  93. Hi, do you think the product K-Right by Jarrow has safe amounts of vitamin K? K1 500mcg, K2-4 1500mcg, K27-180mcg. Thanks so much!

  94. Is it fine to take D3 without K and just get the K from food? Is it also fine to take Magnesium without Calcium and just get the Calcium from food? I have PCOS and braces on my teeth, just wanted some advice. I will check with my doctor and orthodontist also.

  95. Hi Lara,
    Can licorice and white peony help with acne and hirsutism without lowering estrogen and progesterone?
    I was going to try saw palmetto but I don’t want to lower estrogen.
    All my hormones are in the normal range even testosterone but I have acne (mild) and hair, It won’t mess up my cycle?
    licorice won’t increase cortisol?

    • Peony and licorice formula doesn’t lower estrogen and progesterone. If anything, it can increase progesterone because it promotes healthy ovulation.
      But it’s not my first choice for women who have regular, healthy cycles. In that case, I usually give zinc and DIM.

      • what brand over the counter brand of Dim do you normally prescribed because their are so many kinds? I have bad acne 2 weeks before my period and night sweats. because their are so many kinds?

  96. Hi! Thank you for this information. I’m a 23 year old female with hairloss, widespread acne, oily scalp, and I have recently started to grow darker hair on my thighs. The hairloss is frightening me a bit, the hair that grows back is thin, see-through and just falls off quickly. I’m a little underweight and have gastritis/IBS, but my periods are regular and the gynecologist said that I am ovulationg just fine. According to her my hormones are also normal and that my problems are due to over-sensitive androgen receptors.
    Why does the androgen receptors become sensitive, and stay that way? Is there anything that can be done? Should I follow your tips in this article?
    Thank you once again.

  97. Hello Dr. Briden,
    I had a Mirena IUD removed April 2016. For months after removal my periods were light and irregular. February 1, 2017 I found your book, read it right away and bought supplements for insulin resistance PCOS. I have also cleaned up my diet and have lost about 20 lbs. Today, May 28, 2017, I took a pregnancy test and it is positive. My question is do I continue with the supplements I have been taking for the last 3 1/2 months or do I switch to a prenatal vitamin? I know these supplements have helped me to get to this point and I want to be careful and cautious of any sudden changes.
    Current supplements:
    D-Chiro-Inositol 600mg 2x/day
    Magnesium glycinate 400 mg
    Taurine 500 mg
    Potassium iodide 300 mcg
    Selenium 100 mcg
    Zinc Citrate 25 mg
    Vitamin D 1000 IU
    Thank you for your dedication to women’s health. I was very lost before I found your book. I was not given much direction from my doctor when I saw her last November. I have three children and have never struggle getting pregnant up until this point.
    Thanks, Jane

  98. Hi Lara,

    What are your thoughts on minoxidil for androgenetic alopecia? I have pcos as well and tried many supplements without success, I used minoxidil in the past and worked well but since being off the pill for a year I’m a bit scared of any medicine that can mess up my hormones.

    Thank you kindly.

  99. Hi Lara, I have a question.
    I’m 18 years old and I have a VERY irregular cycle (anything between 30 and 120 days). My gynaecologist recently did a blood test but she said there was nothing wrong with my hormones. She also did an ultrasound and said everything looked perfectly normal, except that my endometrium wasn’t built up very much. Now the only solution she suggested was the pill, which I don’t want to take for several reasons. Is there any other option for me? I can’t believe that everything in my body is ok when my cycles are that irregular. But I’m neither over- nor underweight and I feel healthy in general. Can you help me?

  100. Was browsing your Instagram and saw you revised your HPA Protocol. Have you revised your IR Protocol at all? The Inositols don’t work for me. I have Adrenal, IR & Hypothyroid issues. I love taking Magnesium Glycinate when my muscles hurt at around 360 mg. However, daily it doesn’t seem to do much. Would I notice anything if it was helping Adrenal/Thyroid?

    • I also read that Curcumin stimulates Cortisol. Can I still use it for Cortisol that barely meets the mark and then shoots up? Also, is it an Aromatase Inhibitor? I’m really sad, because I need to lower inflammation, but I also need my Estrogen. Thanks a bunch.

    • The most important thing for insulin resistance is to avoid all concentrated fructose including fruit juice, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup, agave, and dates in smoothies. Do you do that? Beyond that, I recommend protein in the morning, and the supplements magnesium and alpha-lipoic acid. I sometimes give berberine.

      • I do do that, but I still deal with weight loss resistance and wanting to snack and eat too much. It might be the Cortisol I need to work on in order to take care of the IR. Does Curcumin stimlate Cortisol even when you don’t need it?

  101. How can we tell if the hirsutism has been reversed or stopped? Does the hair stop growing in or does it stop growing in and go away?

      • I have been diagnosed 20 years ago with ideopathic hirsutism. After much searching, I found an endocrinologist who prescribed me finasteride plus one contraceptive per day. It has been 10 years and it has worked perfectly, so much that hair has almost disappeared. I was happy, but the problem was when I decided to suspend it for a year. During that time I noticed hair loss and until today, I could not recover the volume. I have resumed with the previous pills, but I do not notice any recovery, my hair has begun to grow again, although not as much as before the treatment. My question is what can I do to regain my hair, as I do not worry about excess hair as much as alopecia. Especially on my forehead and crown, I notice a heavy loss. Could you help me with some natural treatment?
        Another question that gives me spinning. Some time ago I hit my head, which made me an X-ray, when I saw the doctor asked me if I had hormonal problems, since the pituitary was “open”, he did not know how to explain it, sent me to a neorologist, Which told me that it is nothing serious, that does not relate my problem of hirsutism with the pituitary. I think there may be some connection in another way, why did the previous doctor know that he was in treatment?
        What do you recommend me? I can not sleep from worry.
        Thank you very much!

  102. Hello dr Briden ,
    What do you think of green tea with Ecgc to lower androgens ? does it have a scientific impact?
    thanks for all your articles, here in Europe so difficult to find anything in the field of natural medicine about those topics.

  103. Thank you for this article,its very helpful,just i want to ask which kind of zink supplement is more effective and highly absorbed in the body? thnx

  104. Finding all of this information to be true! Use berberine and magnesium as recommended in your book and am trying to quit sugar but I am having a hard time! Thanks for all of your hard work on improving women’s health & hormones!

  105. I don’t think you understand the role of sugar in the body. You could look into ray peat’s work as a start. Fruit is one of the healthiest food on the planet with very bioavailable nutrients. The body needs sugar and burning sugar for fuel is more efficient than burning fat. You can’t then say, stay away from table sugar because the sugar that is table sugar is the same as the sugar in fruit. It’s sucrose. There are amino acids in protein that lower blood sugar which is why even diabetes associations advice a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein. If your blood sugar is too low you release adrenaline which mobilizes glucose from the liver. Adrenaline is known to increase insulin resistance over time so low blood sugar is actually a link to high blood sugar. You could have high blood sugar for years without knowing it. You have low blood sugar, you’ll know it in minutes.. Most people have very poor stores of glycogen to begin with. Cortisol breaks down muscle for sugar. That’s how important sugar is, that there is all these back ups to makes sure your cells get enough. Thyroid hormone T3 requires adequate stores of glycogen. QUitting sugar is hands down the worst thing you can do, It took me years to recover from advice just as this. The reality is you need a good supply of sugar and with it a good supply of nutrients such as those you find in livers and oysters.

  106. Can I have pcos if I have a normal 32-35 day period with ovulation each month? But my testosterone is high and so are DHEAS even though estrogen and progesterone are in normal range! Also can peony and licorice change your period? I want to take it to lower testosterone but worried it will mess up my cycle!

    • Yes, it is possible to ovulate regularly and still qualify for a PCOS diagnosis. Have you had your zinc levels checked? Has your doctor ruled out a condition called nonclassic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (NCAH)? NCAH accounts for up to 9 percent of cases of androgen excess and is often misdiagnosed as PCOS.

      • My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with NCAH. Can you please advise the best approach for this. Dr wants to give birth control and Spiralactone. I refuse to give that to her. She has bad hirsuitism throughout her body and has had only one period in March. She is slim with minor acne. Her Testosterone and free testosterone were high. TSH was 3.2.


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