An antiandrogen is any compound that interferes with the production of androgen (male sex hormones). An individual may want to lower their levels of androgen if they suffer from any of the symptoms that high androgen levels can bring on, which includes acne, mood disorders, excessive facial hear, prostate cancer in men, and alopecia (more prevalent in men, but possible for women to experience, too).
Antiandrogens work in one of two ways. First, they may block the receptors designed for androgen, which does not allow androgen to settle in the tissue. Second, they may prevent the metabolic reaction that creates androgens from occurring.
5 alpha-reductase (5aR) is an enzyme that combines with androgens to create a super-androgen known as Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Over time, excessive amounts of DHT can accumulate in the hair follicle and prevent the follicle from producing new hairs. Antiandrogens are 5aR inhibitors, meaning they can prevent 5aR from metabolizing another androgen into DHT. Once the antiandrogen has successfully repressed 5aR from metabolizing, the amount of DHT becomes low enough that it will no longer gather in concentrated levels in the scalp’s tissue. A lower amount of DHT in the scalp’s tissue means that the hair can resume its natural growth cycle. 5aR inhibitors only target the creation of DHT. Other androgens are left intact, and are not affected by this class of medication. It is important to note that some people are genetically immune from hair loss due to DHT, and can retain their hair without the help of antiandrogenic prescription medication.
Antiandrogens (5 alpha-reductase inhibitors) can be taken as a pill, topical cream, or sometimes as a surgical implant.
Yes, there are many plant-based antiandrogens that have been clinically evaluated and proven useful. A 2012 study verified the 5aR-inhibiting effects of red reishi mushrooms along with green tea.
Other food types have been proven to lower testosterone levels include:
Evidence has shown in some studies that saw palmetto, a plant native to South Eash United States, can have some effectiveness in treating baldness and prostate cancer. This plant is related to the palm tree and and it is thought to inhibit the 5aR enzyme when taken as an extract. Many products have been released on the market specifically to profit from the hair loss industry and many of them contain saw palmetto extract. There is conflicting evidence as to the efficacy of saw palmetto as a tool to combat hair loss and prostate cancer. Some intitial evidence has shown effectiveness but two recent studies have also cast doubt on the previous evidence. More research is needed for conclusive results.