Anti-androgens are an assorted group of drugs and compounds that reduce the levels or activity of androgen hormones within the human body. Disease states in which this is relevant include polycystic ovarian syndrome, hirsutism, acne, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and endocrine related cancers such as carcinoma of the prostate.
We provide an overview and discussion of the use of anti-androgen medications in clinical practice and explore the increasing recognition of the benefits of plant-derived anti-androgens, for example, spearmint tea in the management of PCOS, for which some evidence about efficacy is beginning to emerge. Other agents covered include red reishi, which has been shown to reduce levels 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that facilitates conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT); licorice, which has phytoestrogen effects and reduces testosterone levels; Chinese peony, which promotes the aromatization of testosterone into estrogen; green tea, which contains epigallocatechins and also inhibits 5-alpha reductase, thereby reducing the conversion of normal testosterone into the more potent DHT; black cohosh, which has been shown to kill both androgenresponsive and non-responsive human prostate cancer cells; chaste tree, which has a reduces prolactin from the anterior pituitary; and saw palmetto extract, which is used as an anti-androgen although it shown no difference in comparison to placebo in clinical trials.
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