Most endocrinologists, or specialists who focus on hormones, report having limited knowledge of transgender bodies.
Bodies produce varying amounts of sex hormones based on sex at birth (male, female, or intersex) as well as our lifestyles, diets, medications, and stress levels. And, how hormones affect us is also influenced by how our cells receive them: Hormones send targeted messages, and these signals are picked up only by cells with the right receptors. All in all, the endocrine system is dynamic, with no two bodies producing and receiving exactly the same amount of hormones in exactly the same way, and there’s a lot that scientists still don’t understand.
Most endocrinologists, or specialists who focus on hormones, report having limited knowledge of transgender bodies. In a recent survey, a majority identified themselves as not competent to treat trans patients and 30 percent said they wouldn’t treat a trans patient at all.
Studies published in peer-reviewed journals have shown associations between plants and hormonal effects. Soy, for example, is a well-known “estrogenic” plant that has been studied for its (potentially harmful effects on cisgender women’s bodies. Some pine pollens have been shown to be androgenic, meaning they contain testosterone and other male hormones, albeit in much smaller doses than the human body. One study found pine can cause sex changes in fish exposed to lots of pollen from milling operations in rivers. This research is far from what would be needed to confirm that these supplements have a measurable effect on human hormone levels, however.
But in all cases, Swersey discusses the likely outcome based on personal anecdotes, not on scientific study. They frequently formulate individualized tinctures they say address both physical and emotional aspects of what their clients are looking for. If you want to grow a beard or breasts, though, they generally tell you to go see a medical doctor.
Access to prescription hormones for trans folks has gotten easier, but depending on your health insurance and what part of the country you live in, it can still be tough to find a competent doctor.
Swersey’s approach with trans clients is to try to find out exactly what people mean when they say “herbal transition.” For example, are they looking to change their voice or muscle mass, or reduce the stress associated with not passing as the gender they identify with? Some requests are more treatable with herbs than others, they said, and every treatment depends on the person. Some people might be looking for support around secondary sex characteristics, while others might need help with emotional regulation. “Gender dysphoria and how it shows up in every person is actually really vast and different,” they said.
With no further discussion, I drank this disgusting tea every day for a month or two, hoping it would quickly put an end to my body’s female functioning and I would grow facial hair and, I don’t know, suddenly be very strong and have a low voice or something.
Swersey, wearing black jeans and a leather jacket, met me in a shabby office building by the highway that serves as the headquarters of Take Care Herbals. Swersey, who goes by they and them pronouns, is self-deprecating and warm — like me, a 30-something genderqueer former punk who’s gone kinda crunchy but still hates hippies. “I really wanted a skill when the apocalypse happened, and I knew that I didn’t have any,” they said, so they came to the Appalachians to study herbs at the Chestnut School for Herbal Medicine. “I just kind of fell in love with the woods and couldn’t think of my life without being in these mountains.”
Can herbal hormone therapy help the transgender community?
One of the effects that I did not anticipate of the Provara was the feminizing effects. Although not noticeable for a few months, my breasts started to enlarge and I started to gain a little weight in my hips. Provara works by reducing the testosterone levels in the body, thereby allowing the body’s estrogen level to increase in proportion to the testosterone. The reduction of the levels of testosterone is the reason for a reduced libido in men. Although the level of estrogen in my body did not increase, the proportion of estrogen increased, generating the feminizing effects.
The reason I chose this one was because of the raw glandular powders which seemed to be a missing compound for me.
Thiamin HCL (Vitamin B1), 2 mg; Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), 2 mg; Niacin (Vitamin B3), 10 mg; Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine HCL), 10 mg; Pantothenic Acid, 10 mg; Magnesium (as Oxide), 500 mg; Selenium, 25 mcg; Manganese, 2 mg
Additional Ingredients: Dong Quai root, 200 mg
Raw glandular powders from bovine sources: Mammary, 25 mg; Ovary, 19 mg; Uterus, 10 mg; Adrenal, 10 mg; Pituitary, 5 mg
Also: Boron, 3 mg
plus binders, disintegrants, and lubricants.
The Provara has worked wonders. First of all, in conjunction with the Effexor, my temper is under control and the Provara has reduced my sex drive to a manageable level. I have trouble with performance (gaining and/or maintaining an erection or orgasming) at times, but my wife is very understanding about that. I would admonish you that you should have your wife’s permission for engaging in this type of herbal hormone treatment. It would be unfair to her to deprive her of your sexual performance unless it is mutually agreeable.
Cycrin, generic brand of Provara. $16 per 60 10mg tablets. Dosage 2 per day (for 20mg/day). By prescription only. This has been the most important drug in my regimen. By reducing my testosterone level, it allowed the estrogen in my body to begin its work.
In 1995 at age 40, my marriage of 14 years was on the rocks. My wife and three children were afraid of me because of my semi-violent temper. I had never struck any of them or beat them, but I yelled a lot and threw horrible temper tantrums. Eventually, I was relegated to the basement for months at a time. According to my wife, it was either that or move out of the house. I loved my children, though, and chose the basement instead of being alone (and broke).
I have always enjoyed crossdressing and transgender fantasies, so this result became a new erotic thrill. I started doing more research on the Internet and adding various herbal combinations to my daily pill regimen. As I did, the feminizing effects started to become more noticeable. My breasts now fill a B-cup bra if I choose the right one. My hips are more rounded so panties fit me better than they used to. I am now able to dress more femininely and could pass.
A quick lesson on hormones is in order here. Both men and women have both testosterone (the primary male hormone) and estrogen (the primary female hormone). Men have more testosterone, however, due to the testicles and women have more estrogen due to the ovaries. But the key is that both sexes produce the natural hormones for both men and women.
I went back to the doctor with a strange request. I told him that I wanted to REDUCE my sex drive. Most of the fights with my wife, I told him, were because of my high sex drive. If I could reduce my libido, I reasoned, maybe we could work things out and I could save my marriage. I had done some research on the Internet and found a drug called Depo-Provara which was used to “chemically castrate” sexually-violent criminals. The dosages were usually 200 mg and given by injection. Was there something in a lower dosage that might do the same job, I asked him?
Most powerful feminizing herbs PLEASE!! No experiments – meet your Doctor!! Sabine MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH HERBAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY Disclaimer: This information is