Solutions for excess facial hair in women

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

At our clinics we see a lot of women seeking help for excess facial hair, which they find very annoying and often embarrassing. Excess facial hair can be caused by too high testosterone levels, high cortisol levels (as in Cushing’s disease) and can also be hereditary, being more common in women from the Middle East or Mediterranean countries. Women often have laser therapy to kill the hair follicles and this works better in women with dark coloured hair and light skin.

Women with high testosterone levels often have the following symptoms:

  • Weight excess, especially around the torso and upper body
  • Fatty liver
  • Insulin resistance
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Type 2 diabetes

In women who are overweight, we usually find high levels of the hormone insulin and this is known as insulin resistance. The higher insulin levels stimulate fat storing and weight gain, and often lead to a fatty liver. It is interesting to note that a high carbohydrate diet raises insulin, which in turn raises testosterone levels in the body and this results in more facial hair. High testosterone levels can also cause acne, greasy skin, abdominal weight gain and scalp hair loss in the male pattern of balding (front and sides).

When women with facial hair go on a low carbohydrate diet, their testosterone levels reduce and their facial hair subsequently reduces. Conversely, when they eat excess carbohydrates, their testosterone levels go up and their facial hair increases. Thus what you eat has a profound effect on your hormones – especially insulin and testosterone levels. Medications that can reduce facial hair include natural bio-identical progesterone, especially in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. The diuretic drug Aldactone (spironolactone) can cause a slight reduction in facial hair, as it has an anti-androgenic effect. Male hormones are called androgens and they stimulate the growth of hair follicles on the face. In women with severe facial hair, known as hirsutism, the use of the anti-male hormone called Cyproterone acetate can be very effective in stopping unwanted facial hair.

A low carbohydrate diet excludes sugar and grains such as wheat, rye, barley, oats and rice. If you eat a diet high in animal protein, natural fats and vegetables, your blood insulin level will fall, will lose weight if you are overweight, and you should become less hairy. You can find this eating plan in Dr Cabot’s book called I can’t lose weight and I don’t know why.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email