Androgen is a nonspecific name for a steroid hormone, which influences the development of male sex characteristics. Often, elevated androgen levels are associated with this incidence of prostate cancer and other illnesses. Several herbs, including saw palmetto, Korean angelica and spearmint tea have been shown to be effective in the suppression of this hormone for the treatment of cancer.
Androgen is responsible for the growth of the prostate gland often seen in patients with prostate cancer. An article appearing in the December 2010 issue of the “Italian Journal of Urology and Nephrology” investigated the efficacy and safety of Serenoa repens, more commonly known as saw palmetto, on benign prostatic hypertrophy, BPH, which is the swelling of the prostate gland that blocks the urinary tract. The author reviewed two studies in which 70 patients diagnosed with BPH were treated with 320 mg per day of S. repens. The author reported that this dosage was effective in reducing the size of the prostate gland by inhibiting androgen effects and was well-tolerated.
The January 2009 issue of the “American Journal of Chinese Medicine” analyzed Korean angelica gigas for antiandrogen effects using mice. The article identified two components, decursin and decursinol angelate, as the active ingredients of the herb that have anti-cancer activities. In this study, the researchers tested these compounds on lung cancer cells and found that an ethanol extract dose of 30 mg per kg of body weight successfully decreased the proliferation of the cells and encouraged apoptosis, or genetically-programmed cell death of the cancer cells.
Hirsutism is the occurrence of excessive hair on women such as the growth of a beard or chest hair due to elevated androgen levels. The February 2010 issue of "Phytotherapy Research" investigated the effects of spearmint tea on androgen levels in women diagnosed with hirsutism as a side-effect of polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is characterized by obesity of female fertility problems. The study found that androgen levels were significantly reduced over a 30-day clinical trial. The authors concluded that spearmint tea has antiandrogen properties.
Scutellaria baicalensis, also known as Baikal Skullcap, is an herb commonjly used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of cancer and inflammation. A study published in the January 2007 issue of "Nutrition and Cancer" investigated the effects of S. baicalensis on androgen levels in prostate cancer. The authors used two prostate cancer cell lines and found that dosages of 0.38 mg was sufficient for the inhibition of cell growth and proliferation by inhibiting the effects of androgens. The authors concluded that S. baicalensis is an effective treatment for lowering androgen levels associated with prostate cancer.