woman plucking or tweezing excess hair

Excess Hair or Hirsutism

how a naturopath would treat hirsutism or excess hair

What is hirsutism or excess hair?

While everyone is different, if you feel that you have more hair than you should, we can investigate that.  You may notice chin hairs, chest hairs, dark hairs below your navel or hairy arms or legs.

What causes excess hair?

There are four possibilities here, although the assumption is generally that the problem is high levels of male hormones or androgens.

  1. High levels of male hormones or androgens. Androgens include testosterone, DHEAs, DHT and androstenedione.  Everyone produces these hormones, males just produce more than females. A family history of diabetes may provide a clue that this is where the problem lies.
  2. Low levels of the female hormones estradiol, estrone, or progesterone. Low female hormones will look like excessive male hormones since each of these hormones balances the others.
  3. Genetic or cultural tendency. Certain cultures have a greater tendency to have more body or facial hair.  But there can also be genetic tendencies to produce too much testosterone or other androgens, so I would always want to rule that out.
  4. High prolactin. Prolactin can inhibit ovulation, which would lead to lower estrogen and progesterone levels.  Lower estrogen or progesterone (lack of female hormones), can make it appear that there is an excess of the male hormones or androgens.

What is the natural treatment for hirsutism or excess hair?

While naturopathic treatment can help slow or halt the excessive facial or body hair growth, once stimulated the existing excessive hair will tend to continue to grow.  With naturopathic treatment, we can slow down regrowth and prevent new hair from growing. I recommend my patients utilize laser hair removal after using naturopathic treatment to slow or prevent regrowth.  Natural treatment is directed at moderating the above hormonal imbalances.

Blood tests that may be helpful for excessive hair:

DHEAs, testosterone, androstenedione, DHT, day 3 estradiol, LH, & FSH, progesterone (day 21 of a 28-day cycle), prolactin.  Your family doctor can order these tests, or if they won’t I can order them for you.  OHIP does not cover the cost of the DHT blood test regardless, but the rest would be covered by OHIP if your doctor would order them. If he/she does, I would highly recommend obtaining a copy of the blood tests and taking it to someone like me for proper analysis.  Just because you fall in the lab ranges, doesn’t mean your hormones are perfectly healthy.  Although your doctor will rely on them, lab ranges are NOT reflective of optimal hormone levels.

For help with this or any other health problem, book an appointment here or call the office for more information at 416-481-0222.

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND