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Help Me Understand Androgens Please!


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#1 Oilygirl1980

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 01:37 AM

I feel like ive finally gotten to a point where i believe that oily skin is a result of hormonal imbalances and elevated androgen levels. I wanted to believe oily skin was somehow my fault by using the wrong products but no matter what i try, outside of drying agents, i will always have oily skin. I just have to learn how to "manage" it. I feel the tv and the internet have lied to us. Always claiming that a product will cure it but it never does.

Science guys or anyone who understands hormonal imbalances- please weigh in.

Why are oily skinned peoples androgens higher? Is that the only reason we have oily skin?
Can women take saw palmetto?
Can men take black cohosh?
Anyone tried chasteberry? Where the heck can i even find that one?
Are these safe for someone who is on birth control? Asking doctors for advice on herbal supplements is not always easy. So im looking for support here.

Sugar- Ive never been sold on a connection between diet and acne since ive changed my diet drastically and saw no improvement in oil or acne. No doubt it improves overall skin health though.
I read that sugar may have an effect. Sugar prompts insulin production. Insulin triggers the ovaries to produce testosterone. Is this accurate? I have polycystic ovaries and endometriosis and im on depo provera which is a birth control with no estrogen. I can only assume that my hormones are unbalanced.
Why do men have higher androgen levels? Can we actually balance these with some herbal supplements?
Im experimenting with cutting out sugary drinks and replacing them with spearmint tea as ive heard here that spearmint may reduce testosterone levels. Anyone who wants to join this experimemt, please post your results.

#2 aanabill

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 03:12 AM

yes,hormones plays a big part.but other aspects such as ur diet and lifestyle have a lot to do directly or indirectly!

before u jump on anything,try out dietary changes and lifestyle modifications.



#3 paigems

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 04:58 PM

Androgens stimulate oil production for whatever reason. I think some people's glands are more sensitive to androgens than others.

 

Women can take Saw Palmetto.

 

I don't know about black cohosh.

 

Never tried chasteberry.

 

I'm not sure about chasteberry and black cohosh, but I have taken saw palmetto with bcp and it was fine. I'm not taking the pill for birth control purposes though.

 

How exactly did you change your diet? blood sugar spikes can alter your hormones in a variety of ways.

 

Men have higher androgen levels because it is their primary hormone. It gives them the masculine characteristics they have.

 

Spearmint tea helped me marginally. I am having much better luck with trying to watch my blood sugar, drinking green smoothies, and taking vitamin C.



#4 Omnivium

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 02:52 AM

Yea all acne products are scams. They don't cure anything, they just "treat" acne or oil. Meaning they never get rid of it.

 

I don't know much about hormonal imbalances, but we don't necessarily have more androgens than other people. We could just have sebaceous glands that are more sensitive to androgens, which is the part genetics would play. Lately I have been thinking that we could have an imbalance in not only hormones, but anything that binds to the sebaceous glands, such as retinoic acid(accutane, vitamin a). In my mind I have separated everything that binds to the sebaceous glands into two categories: androgens, which increase oil, and everything else, which decreases oil. Both categories bind to the sebaceous glands, but if one category overpowers the other, due to a deficiency, an excess, or both, you will get either dry or oily skin.

 

Women can safely take birth control, spironolactone, saw palmetto, or any other antiandrogen. I never heard of black cohosh or chasteberry, but I wouldn't bother trying either of those or saw palmetto. I don't think those natural antiandrogens are strong enough to work well. You might want to look into spiro. If I was a girl I probably would have tried it already.

 

Sugar can cause oily skin by increasing IGF-1, which also binds to the sebaceous glands and causes them to grow and produce more oil. I personally have not had any reduction in oil since stopping sugary, high glycemic load food, but others have. Even if it doesn't decrease your oil, you should still stop drinking soda and things like that just because they are so bad for you.

 

I'm all for experimenting with ways to reduce oil, but as a man I don't want to reduce my androgens, so right now I'm trying to increase the "everything else" category instead. I'll be interested in seeing your results though, and anyone else trying something for oil too.



#5 Oilygirl1980

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 06:09 PM

Everyone-this is awesome. Thanks so much for input!
 
Omnivium- I agree, advertising and the media have way too much influence. I also agree on the genetics- Mom and Gram both had oily skin up until they hit about age 60. I hope I don't have to wait that long for normal skin. :/  
How can we (if at all) control what binds to sebaceous glands? 
I will ask my doctor about Spiro but after looking at the common allergies and reactions, I fear I may fall into that category because I do with many other meds and such. Like BC, I can only take depo provera. Regular BC with estrogen causes debilitating migraines unfortunately, so the Doctors took me off it and said I cannot have estrogen in pill form. Ugh. Its still worth a conversation with my doctor though. 
As I stated above, when my sugar intake was high, it didn't affect my skin at all either.
 
I'm on day three of no sierra mist. I've only been drinking spearmint tea and other herbal teas. I am surprised with what's happening though (if it's in fact related)- I have an even brighter tone to my face right now, and the oil is slightly better.
 
Like you both said-you think maybe it's our glands that are more sensitive to androgens...why is this? Any ideas? Do you think it's something we will always battle?
 

Edited by Oilygirl1980, 13 June 2013 - 01:34 AM.


#6 michi31

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:45 AM

This is an interesting discussion. I believe oily skin is caused by androgens but the exact mechanism is unknown, which is unfortunate, because it is critical to finding the appropriate cure. You can have high androgens measured in the blood, or high androgens only at the skin level binding with the androgen receptors. Birth control pills control the production of androgens whereas Spiro controls the binding to the receptor. I assumed Spiro would be my cure, as my serum androgens are all below normal ranges, however 5 months on it I am still oily as ever. Also there is a hormone measured in the blood, 3 alpha androstanediol, that supposedly detects the conversion of testosterone to DHT in the skin - as the excess DHT produces this hormone as a bi-product back into the blood. Mine is normal. So if the problem is not excess testosterone, or excess DHT in the skin, then what is it? My endo said that "sensitivity to androgens" is not normal and would be considered a genetic fluke. I think what Omnivium said is very interesting and maybe the problem lies in what else is binding or not binding with the androgen receptor.



#7 elliew8

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 02:45 AM

Hey I was doing some research on this yesterday myself, mainly because I was wondering about whether androgens are found in birth control - which apparently they are. Also a big word of warning here, do not take chasteberry with birth control because it reduces the contraceptive effects. You might not have been able to find it anywhere because another name for it is vitex - in the UK we can get it at Boots/ Holland & Barrett. I can't advise about saw palmetto or black cohosh but if they are similar supplements to vitex I'd double check about pregnancy.

 

Also depending on which bcp you're on, spiro is included in some of them - the one I'm on is Yasmin and that definitely contains spiro, which is why I think it's given to people with acne (there are increased health risks though so get some advice from the doc).

 

Another thing I recently found out from a bit of research was that vitamin d3 is a hormone balancing supplement so could be worth a try? Anyway, always take everything with a pinch of salt on this site, people will give some great recommendations and advice but take those suggestions to your doctor before trying anything, especially if you're planning on taking supplements in conjunction with other medication.



#8 Oilygirl1980

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 01:55 AM

Hey ellie! turns out most of the herbal supplements (including the three mentioned in this post) interact with birth control which was a bummer, but after a nice discussion with my gyne today, and really digging into the depths of google to find out more, it "appears" that these three herbs react to estrogens in birth control pills and i am not on a bc with estrogen or its derivatives. I need to find a doctor that has a holistic background as well to get more info before i go messing with this though. I feel comfortable experimenting with it since i am not on bc for baby reasons, but still....
Since im on depo provera, i have to take a vitamin d3 supplement for the bone loss. No luck in oil reduction though.
Looks like yours has an ingredient thats a derivative to spiro, are you having some luck with it? Doc said today that spiro alone is not for me due to my issues. :(

Still having some luck with the tea-day 7 of no sugary drinks!

Edited by Oilygirl1980, 13 June 2013 - 01:57 AM.


#9 elliew8

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:49 AM

Yeah I knew for definite vitex would interfere because some people use it to boost fertility, but thanks for updating about the others :) I've never heard of a bcp without estrogen but then I haven't really looked into it because I've only ever been on Yasmin. I started taking it 7 years ago but from what I can remember it made my skin a lot more manageable so instead of having 4/5 big ol spots, it reduced it so at the most I'd get one at a time. I think you should definitely look into it more though because I know vitex boosts progesterone levels - I'm guessing your bcp has progesterone so it could increase your hormone levels too much.

 

A lot of girls have success with spiro - especially people who are unable to take bc for some reason or if they are diagnosed with pcos. If you can't take it on it's own you could ask your doctor about trying a new bcp - in the UK, Dianette is recommended because it contains a different anti-androgen called cyproterone. Since you've come to the conclusion your oily skin is due to hormone imbalance I'd think it would be better to get your bcp right instead of supplementing? Anyway, let me know what the doc says and glad the tea/ no sugary drinks is giving you some results!



#10 Oilygirl1980

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:45 AM

Yes hopefully no one takes those on regular birth control. I need to do more research though because i thought those herbs boosted just estrogen levels. All of this is a little confusing to me but thanks for letting me know.
Im on medroxyprogestrone only because i have chronic migraines. I will never be able to take bc with estrogen in it. Dianette is out because it has the synthetic estrogen in it. Im on depo for that reason and because i have endo and pcos. The pain and hemorrhaging was pretty bad.
Its weird, out of all the bcs ive been on, not a single one has affected my skin. No more or less acne, no more or less oil. Before i went on birth control and the times that i havent taken any, my skin still stayed the same. Now talking about this androgen thing and thinking about how all the hormonal treatments ive been on didnt do anything, maybe mine isnt hormone related after all? Ugh. I dont know what else to try now. Or maybe it still is related, but since im confined to taking only progesterone, and because she said spiro is out, ill never know if that might be the answer to my oily skin. Damnit!

#11 elliew8

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 02:29 AM

Yeah I'd guess that it's probably not hormone related if you've taken different bcp and none of them have made much difference. I'd say if you've got oily skin but not much acne then you might be able to control it will a topical, a good cleanser should be able to reduce oil, if not completely eliminate it, maybe have a look at the product reviews section.



#12 cindy2013

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:49 AM

I have the same problem my androgen levels are too high thats causing my oily skin

on my body...my face used to be oily but its kinda normal now since started taking

vitamin d and vitamin a.

I'm going to try acupuncture to balance my hormones.



#13 Green Gables

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 10:59 PM

I feel like ive finally gotten to a point where i believe that oily skin is a result of hormonal imbalances and elevated androgen levels. I wanted to believe oily skin was somehow my fault by using the wrong products but no matter what i try, outside of drying agents, i will always have oily skin. I just have to learn how to "manage" it. I feel the tv and the internet have lied to us. Always claiming that a product will cure it but it never does.

Science guys or anyone who understands hormonal imbalances- please weigh in.

Why are oily skinned peoples androgens higher? Is that the only reason we have oily skin?
Can women take saw palmetto?
Can men take black cohosh?
Anyone tried chasteberry? Where the heck can i even find that one?
Are these safe for someone who is on birth control? Asking doctors for advice on herbal supplements is not always easy. So im looking for support here.

Sugar- Ive never been sold on a connection between diet and acne since ive changed my diet drastically and saw no improvement in oil or acne. No doubt it improves overall skin health though.
I read that sugar may have an effect. Sugar prompts insulin production. Insulin triggers the ovaries to produce testosterone. Is this accurate? I have polycystic ovaries and endometriosis and im on depo provera which is a birth control with no estrogen. I can only assume that my hormones are unbalanced.
Why do men have higher androgen levels? Can we actually balance these with some herbal supplements?
Im experimenting with cutting out sugary drinks and replacing them with spearmint tea as ive heard here that spearmint may reduce testosterone levels. Anyone who wants to join this experimemt, please post your results.

 

Depo Provera uses a highly androgenic progestin. You will probably be unable to control your acne while on it. Whatever else you do, the Depo Provera's progestin is throwing more gasoline on the fire. 

 

Most of the herbal supplements are not strong enough to undo contraception.

 

Chasteberry is more commonly known as Vitex, and here is one brand.

 

Women can take saw palmetto. Men can take black cohosh. 

 

The big link in my signature addresses many of your questions.


Edited by Green Gables, 19 June 2013 - 11:01 PM.


#14 Oilygirl1980

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 02:00 AM

Hi green gables- i should probably mention i have no acne issues. Its the oily skin thats a problem. As i mention earlier in a reply to another member, im one of the lucky people that doesnt break out from birth control. Ive been on several kinds over the years, and it doesnt affect my skin in the slightest. Thank God!
But the oil- hasnt changed since i was in middle school. Im 33 now. I found a few topicals that help manage it, but they give me rashes so those are out.
I found the vitex at the vitamin shoppe, and have read a lot about it since i posted this question. I may give it a shot in the future. I dont even know if herbal supplements can help with oily skin, that just happens to be the next thing i thought about trying since im limited with what meds i can take and topicals dont slow it down.
Im taking the saw palmetto and ive finally kicked the sierra mist habit! Im seeing a very slight difference and hoping that it will continue, or maybe get better the longer i take it. We shall see....
Thanks for the link- i will take a look right now. I already agree with the headline. I think oily skin and acne come from the inside.

#15 Green Gables

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 01:53 PM

Hi green gables- i should probably mention i have no acne issues. Its the oily skin thats a problem. As i mention earlier in a reply to another member, im one of the lucky people that doesnt break out from birth control. Ive been on several kinds over the years, and it doesnt affect my skin in the slightest. Thank God!
But the oil- hasnt changed since i was in middle school. Im 33 now. I found a few topicals that help manage it, but they give me rashes so those are out.
I found the vitex at the vitamin shoppe, and have read a lot about it since i posted this question. I may give it a shot in the future. I dont even know if herbal supplements can help with oily skin, that just happens to be the next thing i thought about trying since im limited with what meds i can take and topicals dont slow it down.
Im taking the saw palmetto and ive finally kicked the sierra mist habit! Im seeing a very slight difference and hoping that it will continue, or maybe get better the longer i take it. We shall see....
Thanks for the link- i will take a look right now. I already agree with the headline. I think oily skin and acne come from the inside.

 

You're lucky that you don't break out. The oily skin is most likely coming from the same cause though (DHT sensitivity). Any herbal DHT inhibitor can help with oily skin. If the saw palmetto doesn't make a huge difference, add another DHT inhibitor such as stinging nettle or pumpkin seed oil. A lot of people quit on saw palmetto or try to take huge doses of it and get side effects. You really need to combine different herbs get the oily skin under control.

 

You can also add vitamin A. Accutane is basically overloading your body with near-toxic amounts of Vitamin A, which is why it dries up your sebaceous glands for a while. I don't recommend Accutane because of all of the side effects, however healthy doses of vitamin A can help with oily skin.

 

Vitamin B5 has also helped many with oily skin. I don't recommend overdosing, though, which some people are into on these forums. Just a normal amount daily. 

 

So...if I were just treating oily skin, this is what I would do:

 

  • Two DHT inhibitors daily, probably saw palmetto and stinging nettle. Must use standardized extract pills. 600mg-ish total when combined.
  • Vitamin A. 5,000 - 10,000 IU daily.
  • Vitamin B5, 500mg - 1000mg daily

Edited by Green Gables, 20 June 2013 - 02:03 PM.


#16 Oilygirl1980

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 06:11 PM

This is one of the most helpful responses ever! Thank you so much!

 

Yes-I'm super lucky about the birth control. I see the trouble other girls have and it's heartbreaking. I was planning on at least finishing the huge bottle saw palmetto that i got. I take 3 of those a day at 450 mg. I wanted to start out a little smaller than the dose on the bottle just to make sure it didn't upset my stomach or cause any reactions. Good so far. So if I start taking one of the other ones, I'll take the saw palmetto dose down to equal that. Is it 600mg a day total, or per "serving"? 

 

I take a B complex now per my neuro, so I'll have to see if I'm getting the right amount. My Doctor always told me to be careful with Vitamin A, so I'll start small on that too just be safe. 

 

Doc said spiro is a no for me. Agreed- I would never risk the accutane, too many negatives with that and I already have several allergies to meds so I have to be super careful. Also agreed on the overdosing thing-I know some recommendations can be ignored, but I think that's going too far. Not all vitamins and minerals are safe for everyone depending on allergies and intestinal issues. (which is my problem.) 

 

What are your thoughts on fenugreek? I've read quite a lot about it and it seems like it's in the same class as the other herbs we've been discussing. Also has a possible pleasant side effect. :) 

 

Thanks again!



#17 Green Gables

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 12:04 AM

Fenugreek raises DHT and testosterone. Wouldn't recommend it.

 

Richard Kreider, PhD, of Texas A&M University directed me to his study (1) involving a “purported aromatase and 5-alpha reductase inhibitor,” which turns out to have been fenugreek.

Over the course of the study, total and bioavailable (“free”) testosterone increased 6.57% and 12.26%, respectively, in the subjects taking fenugreek. Estradiol and DHT levels also increased (26.6% and 6.10%, respectively), though not significantly. No changes in hormone levels were found in the placebo group.



As for the saw palmetto, if you aren't having negative side effects, the dose you are taking is fine. But if your oily skin isn't decreasing, I would try replacing one of your saw palmetto pills each day with a different anti-DHT herb like nettle. 



#18 cindy2013

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 07:43 AM

Does anyone know supplements/herbs that only lower high testosterone levels?



#19 Green Gables

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 10:32 AM

Does anyone know supplements/herbs that only lower high testosterone levels?

 

Saw palmetto, stinging nettle, pygeum, pumpkin seed oil will inhibit DHT (the type of testosterone we're typically concerned about in acne).

 

All of the clinical studies that showed this used STANDARDIZED EXTRACT supplements of these herbs.

 

The supplement I recommend is Super Saw Palmetto and Nettle Root Formula


Edited by Green Gables, 21 June 2013 - 10:35 AM.


#20 cindy2013

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 10:44 AM

Does anyone know supplements/herbs that only lower high testosterone levels?

 

Saw palmetto, stinging nettle, pygeum, pumpkin seed oil will inhibit DHT (the type of testosterone we're typically concerned about in acne).

 

All of the clinical studies that showed this used STANDARDIZED EXTRACT supplements of these herbs.

 

The supplement I recommend is Super Saw Palmetto and Nettle Root Formula

Thanks:)

I dont have acne but oily skin on my face and body my DHT levels are in the normal range but my teststerone levels

are high. Does Vitex reduces t-levels am so confused when it comes to Vitex.