Herbal‌ ‌Medicine‌ ‌for‌ ‌Gender‌ ‌Euphoria‌ ‌

Gender‌ ‌expression‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌complex,‌ ‌intersectional,‌ ‌multifaceted‌ ‌issue‌ ‌and‌ ‌lived‌ ‌experience‌ that‌‌ many‌ ‌people‌ ‌grapple‌ ‌with‌ ‌on‌ ‌some‌ ‌level.‌ ‌Gender‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌deeply‌ ‌ingrained‌performance‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌ ‌society,‌ ‌and‌ ‌although‌ ‌we‌ ‌see‌ ‌trends‌ ‌towards‌ ‌dismantling‌ ‌the‌ ‌binaries‌ ‌of‌‌ masculine‌ ‌&‌ ‌feminine,‌ ‌our‌ ‌modern‌ ‌world‌ ‌is‌ ‌an‌ ‌uncomfortable‌ ‌or downright‌ ‌dangerous‌‌ place‌ ‌for‌ ‌folks‌ ‌who‌ ‌aren’t‌ ‌cis-gender.’

Being‌ ‌‘cis-gender’‌ ‌means‌ ‌that‌ ‌one’s‌ ‌sense‌ ‌of‌ ‌personal‌ ‌identity‌ ‌and‌ ‌gender‌ ‌corresponds‌ ‌with‌‌ their‌ ‌birth‌ ‌sex,‌ ‌assigned‌ ‌based‌ ‌on‌ ‌genitalia.‌ ‌Whereas‌ ‌trans,‌ ‌non-binary,‌ ‌two-spirit,‌ ‌genderqueer,‌‌ gender‌ ‌non-conforming ‌and‌ ‌gender‌ ‌fluid‌ ‌folks‌ ‌(not‌ ‌an‌ ‌exhaustive‌ ‌list)‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌identify‌ ‌with‌ ‌their‌‌assigned‌ ‌birth‌ ‌sex.‌ ‌Since‌ ‌these‌ ‌folks‌ ‌must‌ ‌live‌ ‌in‌ ‌and‌ ‌interact‌ ‌with‌ ‌binary‌ ‌society,‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌common‌‌ that‌ ‌they‌ ‌will‌ ‌experience‌ ‌‘gender‌ ‌dysphoria,’‌ ‌or‌ ‌feelings‌ ‌of‌ ‌discomfort,‌ ‌distress,‌ ‌or‌ ‌trauma‌ ‌in‌‌ reaction‌ ‌to‌ ‌societal‌ ‌norms,‌ ‌perceptions,‌ ‌expectations,‌ ‌and‌ ‌triggers‌ ‌around‌ ‌gender‌ ‌expression.‌‌‌
Some‌ ‌trans‌ ‌and‌ ‌nonbinary‌ ‌folks‌ ‌will‌ ‌use‌ ‌gender-affirming ‌pharmaceutical‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌and/or‌‌ receive‌ ‌gender-affirming ‌surgeries.‌ ‌Pharmaceutical‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌can‌ ‌block‌ ‌the‌ ‌formation‌ ‌of‌‌ testosterone‌ ‌and‌ ‌androgens,‌ ‌increase‌ ‌estrogen ‌or‌ ‌increase‌ ‌testosterone.‌ ‌Taking‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌can‌‌ alter‌ ‌secondary‌ ‌sex‌ ‌characteristics‌ ‌like‌ ‌fat‌ ‌distribution,‌ ‌hair‌ ‌growth‌ ‌&‌ ‌location,‌ ‌voice‌ ‌timbre,‌ ‌and‌‌ muscle‌ ‌mass.‌ ‌For‌ ‌many‌ ‌people,‌ ‌these‌ ‌medical‌ ‌interventions‌ ‌are‌ ‌life-saving. They‌ ‌do‌ ‌the‌ ‌magic‌‌ work‌ ‌of‌ ‌helping‌ ‌one‌ ‌feel‌ ‌embodied.‌ ‌However,‌ ‌it‌ ‌must‌ ‌be‌ ‌said,‌ ‌trans‌ ‌and‌ gender-nonconforming ‌folks‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌need‌ ‌or‌ ‌always‌ ‌desire‌ ‌medical‌ ‌interventions‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌whole‌ ‌and‌ ‌valid‌ ‌in‌‌ their‌ ‌expressions.‌‌‌
Photo by Kyle on Unsplash

The‌ ‌Space‌ ‌Herbs‌ ‌Can‌ ‌Hold‌‌

As‌ ‌a‌ ‌clinical‌ ‌herbalist,‌ ‌I‌ ‌work‌ ‌with‌ ‌people‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌genders ‌but‌ ‌tend‌ ‌to‌ ‌attract‌ ‌more‌ ‌folks‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌‌ trans‌ ‌spectrum.‌ ‌A‌ ‌significant‌ ‌portion‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌clients‌ ‌are‌ ‌trans,‌ ‌and‌ ‌I’ve‌ ‌supported‌‌ many‌ ‌of‌ ‌them‌ ‌herbally‌ ‌and‌ ‌energetically‌ ‌through‌ ‌gender-affirming ‌surgeries,‌ ‌pharmaceutical‌‌ hormone‌ ‌supplementation‌ ‌(and‌ ‌titrating‌ ‌on‌ ‌and‌ ‌off),‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ emotional/physical/spiritual‌‌navigation‌ ‌of‌ ‌choosing‌ ‌to‌ ‌radically‌ ‌love‌ ‌oneself.‌ ‌The‌ ‌herbal‌ ‌information‌ ‌shared‌ ‌in‌ ‌this‌ ‌article‌‌ comes‌ ‌mostly‌ ‌from‌ ‌first-‌ ‌or‌ ‌second-hand‌ ‌experience‌ ‌rather‌ ‌than‌ ‌scientific‌ ‌studies,‌ ‌which‌ ‌largely,‌‌ and‌ ‌tellingly,‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌exist‌ ‌on‌ ‌this‌ ‌particular‌ ‌subject.‌ ‌It‌ ‌should‌ ‌be‌ ‌noted‌ ‌that‌ ‌I‌ ‌am‌ ‌not‌ ‌trans‌ ‌myself,‌‌ and‌ ‌although‌ ‌I‌ ‌identify‌ ‌as‌ ‌queer‌ ‌and‌ ‌genderfluid,‌ ‌I‌ ‌have‌ ‌cis-passing‌ ‌privilege.‌ ‌This‌ ‌herbal‌‌ information‌ ‌is‌ ‌presented‌ ‌through‌ ‌the‌ ‌lens‌ ‌of‌ ‌practitioner‌ ‌and‌ ‌ally.‌‌‌
I’ve‌ ‌seen‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌work‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌multitude‌ ‌of‌ ‌ways‌ ‌in‌ ‌terms‌ ‌of‌ ‌helping‌ ‌folks‌ ‌to‌ ‌achieve‌ ‌‘gender‌‌
euphoria’.‌ ‌Gender‌ ‌euphoria‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌happy‌ ‌opposite‌ ‌of‌ ‌gender‌ ‌dysphoria,‌ ‌defined‌ ‌as‌ ‌feelings‌ ‌of‌‌ satisfaction,‌ ‌joy,‌ ‌or‌ ‌ecstasy,‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌congruence,‌ ‌or‌ ‌rightness,‌ ‌between‌ ‌one’s‌ ‌gender‌ ‌identity. ‌For‌ ‌physical‌ ‌gender‌ ‌affirmation,‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌can‌‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌to‌ ‌create‌ ‌mild‌ ‌secondary‌ ‌sex‌ ‌characteristic‌ ‌shifting‌ ‌effects,‌ ‌or,‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌support‌ ‌the‌‌body‌ ‌to‌ ‌counteract‌ ‌unwanted‌ ‌side‌ ‌effects‌ ‌of‌ ‌synthetic‌ ‌hormones.‌ ‌Alternately,‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌‌ on‌ ‌an‌ ‌energetic‌ ‌level‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌and‌ ‌spiritual‌ ‌aspects‌ ‌of‌ ‌gender‌ affirmation.‌‌‌


Most‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌are‌ ‌unlikely‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌significant‌ ‌or‌ ‌immediate‌ ‌effect‌ ‌without‌ ‌any‌ ‌other‌‌
transition‌ ‌methods.‌ ‌If‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌marked‌ ‌physical‌ ‌effects,‌ ‌prescription‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌are‌ ‌the‌‌ safest‌ ‌and‌ ‌easiest‌ ‌way‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌that‌ ‌happen.‌ ‌The‌ ‌dosages‌ ‌you‌ ‌would‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌of‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌in‌‌ order‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌a‌ ‌physical‌ ‌effect‌ ‌can‌ ‌put‌ ‌too‌ ‌much‌ ‌stress‌ ‌on‌ ‌our‌ ‌organs.‌ ‌As‌ ‌always,‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌start‌ ‌an‌‌ herbal‌ ‌protocol‌ ‌without‌ ‌consulting‌ ‌an‌ ‌informed,‌ ‌trusted‌ ‌herbalist‌. Each‌ ‌body‌ ‌is‌ ‌unique,‌ ‌with‌ ‌its‌ ‌own‌ ‌energetic‌ ‌constitution‌ ‌that‌ ‌must‌ ‌be‌ ‌considered.‌ ‌Never‌‌ combine‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌with‌ ‌your‌ ‌pharmaceutical‌ ‌medications‌ ‌without‌ ‌first‌ ‌discussing‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌trusted‌‌ herbalist‌ ‌and‌ ‌your‌ ‌healthcare‌ ‌provider.‌‌‌

Fortifying‌ ‌the‌ ‌Foundation‌

Herbal‌ ‌medicine‌ ‌works‌ ‌most‌ ‌effectively‌ ‌when‌ ‌we‌ ‌start‌ ‌from‌ ‌a‌ ‌place‌ ‌of‌ ‌nourishment‌ ‌and‌ ‌rest.‌ ‌It’s‌‌ important‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌care‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌bodies‌ ‌so‌ ‌they’re‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌handle‌ ‌the‌ ‌changes‌ ‌and‌ ‌stress‌ ‌that‌ ‌can‌‌accompany‌ ‌shifting‌ ‌in‌ ‌gender‌ ‌expression.‌ ‌All‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌are‌ ‌made‌ ‌of‌ ‌fat,‌ ‌so‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌eat‌‌ good‌ ‌fats‌ ‌(omega‌ ‌3s‌ ‌especially)‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌the‌ ‌body‌ ‌form‌ ‌and‌ ‌transform‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌and‌ ‌coat‌ ‌nerve‌‌ cells.‌ ‌Fats‌ ‌form‌ ‌the‌ ‌boundaries‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌cells,‌ ‌so‌ ‌we‌ ‌need‌ ‌good‌ ‌fats‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌ ‌bodies‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌solid‌‌ building‌ ‌blocks‌ ‌and‌ ‌physical‌ ‌and‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌boundaries!‌‌
All‌ ‌bodies‌ ‌make‌ ‌the‌ ‌same‌ ‌hormones,‌ ‌just‌ ‌in‌ ‌different‌ ‌amounts.‌ ‌Our‌ ‌bodies‌ ‌also‌ ‌use‌ ‌different‌‌ amounts‌ ‌of‌ ‌hormones;‌ ‌this‌ ‌is‌ ‌where‌ ‌we‌ ‌can‌ ‌change‌ ‌how‌ ‌our‌ ‌bodies‌ ‌utilize‌ ‌the‌ ‌hormones‌ ‌we‌‌ already‌ ‌have.‌ ‌Everybody ‌makes‌ ‌progesterone‌ ‌from‌ ‌cholesterol,‌ ‌and‌ ‌that‌ ‌progesterone‌ ‌can‌ ‌turn‌‌ into‌ ‌either‌ ‌estrogen‌ ‌or‌ ‌testosterone.‌ ‌The‌ ‌estrogen‌ ‌and‌ ‌testosterone‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌ ‌bodies‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌‌ convert‌ ‌back‌ ‌and‌ ‌forth‌. ‌This‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌reason‌ ‌we‌ ‌need‌‌ to‌ ‌be‌ ‌very‌ ‌precise‌ ‌with‌ ‌both‌ ‌synthetic‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌dosages‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌use‌ ‌of‌ ‌herbal‌ ‌medicine.‌ ‌Our‌‌ bodies‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌maintain‌ ‌balance. ‌If‌ ‌we‌ ‌disturb‌ ‌that‌ ‌balance‌ ‌too‌ ‌much,‌ ‌our‌ ‌bodies‌ ‌can‌ ‌convert‌ the‌ ‌desired‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌into‌ ‌the‌ ‌undesirable‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌to‌ ‌maintain‌ ‌balance‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌ ‌systems,‌‌countering‌ ‌the‌ ‌effects‌ ‌we’re‌ ‌seeking.‌‌‌

Herbs‌ ‌to‌ ‌Support‌ ‌Feeling‌ ‌Embodied‌‌

Damiana‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Largely‌ ‌considered‌ ‌an‌ ‌aphrodisiac‌ ‌herb,‌ ‌Damiana‌ ‌helps‌ ‌us‌ ‌to‌ ‌feel‌ ‌good‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌‌
bodies‌ ‌by‌ ‌increasing‌ ‌sensory‌ ‌capability,‌ ‌helping‌ ‌to‌ ‌regulate‌ ‌the‌ ‌nervous‌ ‌system ‌and‌ ‌creating‌ ‌a‌‌ pleasurable‌ ‌embodied‌ ‌experience.‌ ‌Damiana‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌reduce‌ ‌pain‌ ‌and‌ ‌tension‌ ‌and‌ ‌elevate‌‌ mood.‌ ‌This‌ ‌herb‌ ‌is‌ ‌quite‌ ‌popular‌ ‌among‌ ‌my‌ ‌trans‌ ‌clients,‌ ‌as‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌help‌ ‌folks‌ ‌to‌ ‌feel‌ ‌comfortable‌‌and‌ ‌experience‌ ‌pleasure‌ ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌physical‌ ‌form.‌ ‌It‌ ‌combines‌ ‌well‌ ‌with‌ ‌other‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌in‌ ‌tincture‌ ‌or‌‌elixir‌ ‌form ‌or‌ ‌makes‌ ‌a‌ ‌really‌ ‌lovely‌ ‌tea‌ ‌when‌ ‌combined‌ ‌with‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌like‌ ‌Chamomile‌ ‌and‌ ‌Milky‌‌ Oats.‌‌‌
Milky‌ ‌Oats‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Milky‌ ‌Oats‌ ‌feed ‌our‌ ‌nervous‌ ‌and‌ ‌endocrine‌ ‌systems!‌ ‌This‌ ‌herb‌ ‌moistens‌ ‌and‌‌ nourishes‌ ‌our‌ ‌glands‌ ‌and‌ ‌tissues,‌ ‌and‌ ‌contains‌ ‌nutrients‌ ‌like‌ ‌silica,‌ ‌magnesium,‌ ‌phosphorus,‌‌chromium,‌ ‌iron,‌ ‌calcium,‌ ‌alkaloids,‌ ‌protein,‌ ‌and‌ ‌vitamins‌ ‌A,‌ ‌B‌ ‌complex,‌ ‌and‌ ‌C,‌ ‌among‌ ‌others.‌ ‌I‌‌ recommend‌ ‌Milky‌ ‌Oats‌ ‌for‌ ‌clients‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌experiencing‌ ‌stress,‌ ‌exhaustion‌ ‌associated‌ ‌with‌‌ depression,‌ ‌overwork,‌ ‌or‌ ‌emotional‌ ‌trauma,‌ ‌and‌ ‌for‌ ‌those‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌taking‌ ‌pharmaceuticals‌ ‌or‌‌using‌ ‌recreational‌ ‌drugs,‌ ‌especially‌ ‌long‌ ‌term.‌ ‌Milky‌ ‌Oats‌ ‌supports‌ ‌physical,‌ ‌mental,‌ ‌and‌‌ emotional‌ ‌strength‌ ‌and‌ ‌resilience.
Kava‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌This‌ ‌root,‌ ‌native‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌Pacific‌ ‌Islands,‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌used‌ ‌ceremonially‌ ‌and‌ ‌socially‌ ‌for‌ 
centuries‌ ‌for‌ ‌its‌ ‌pleasurable‌ ‌stimulating‌ ‌but‌ ‌relaxing‌ ‌effects.‌ ‌Kava‌ ‌works‌ ‌to‌ ‌modify‌ ‌GABA‌ 
receptors,‌ ‌blocking‌ ‌the‌ ‌uptake‌ ‌of‌ ‌norepinephrine,‌ ‌noticeably‌ ‌reducing‌ ‌feelings‌ ‌of‌ ‌overwhelm‌ ‌and‌ stress.‌ ‌It‌ ‌can‌ ‌really‌ ‌help‌ ‌to‌ ‌soothe‌ ‌anxiety,‌ ‌circular‌ ‌thinking,‌ ‌and‌ ‌phobias.‌ ‌I‌ ‌find‌ ‌that‌ ‌Kava‌ ‌can‌ show‌ ‌us‌ ‌the‌ ‌difference‌ ‌between‌ ‌dissociation‌ ‌and‌ ‌embodiment,‌ ‌leading‌ ‌us‌ ‌towards‌ ‌the‌ ‌latter.‌ Kava‌ ‌combines‌ ‌well‌ ‌with‌ ‌Damiana‌ ‌for‌ ‌promoting‌ ‌deeper‌ ‌social‌ ‌and‌ ‌personal‌ ‌communication‌ and‌ ‌connection.‌  


Never‌ ‌combine‌ ‌Kava‌ ‌with‌ ‌alcohol.‌ ‌Kava‌ ‌can‌ ‌cause‌ ‌intoxicating‌ ‌effects,‌ ‌use‌ ‌with‌ ‌caution.‌ Those‌ ‌taking‌ ‌pharmaceuticals,‌ ‌recreational‌ ‌drugs,‌ ‌or‌ ‌those‌ ‌with‌ ‌liver‌ ‌imbalances‌ ‌should‌ ‌avoid‌ Kava‌ ‌or‌ ‌speak‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌trusted‌ ‌herbalist‌ ‌before‌ ‌consuming.‌  

Herbs‌ ‌to‌ ‌Support‌ ‌Increased‌ ‌Estrogen‌ ‌Levels‌ ‌&‌ ‌Potentially‌ ‌“Feminizing”‌ ‌Effects‌ 

Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌-‌ ‌‌Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌really‌ ‌interesting‌ ‌herb‌ ‌when‌ ‌it‌ ‌comes‌ ‌to‌ ‌hormonal‌ ‌effects,‌ and‌ ‌I‌ ‌use‌ ‌it‌ ‌for‌ ‌clients‌ ‌on‌ ‌both‌ ‌ends‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌gender-binary‌ ‌spectrum,‌ ‌in‌ ‌different‌ ‌situations.‌ Basically,‌ ‌Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌helps‌ ‌to‌ ‌slow‌ ‌down‌ ‌the‌ ‌conversion‌ ‌of‌ ‌testosterone‌ ‌into‌ ‌another‌ androgenic‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌called‌ ‌dihydrotestosterone,‌ ‌or‌ ‌DHT,‌ ‌which‌ ‌is‌ ‌in‌ ‌part‌ ‌responsible‌ ‌for‌ masculine‌ ‌secondary‌ ‌sex‌ ‌characteristics.‌ ‌Supplementing‌ ‌with‌ ‌Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌while‌ ‌not‌ ‌taking‌ pharmaceutical‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌replacement‌ ‌therapy‌ ‌(HRT)‌ ‌can‌ ‌increase‌ ‌breast‌ ‌tissue,‌ ‌reduce‌ “male-pattern‌ ‌baldness”,‌ ‌reduce‌ ‌some‌ ‌hormonal‌ ‌acne‌ ‌and‌ ‌increase‌ ‌the‌ ‌appearance‌ ‌of‌ ‌smooth‌ skin.‌ ‌It’s‌ ‌one‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌popular‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌among‌ ‌my‌ ‌clients‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌herbal‌ ‌feminizing‌ ‌effects.‌  
Black‌ ‌Cohosh‌ ‌-‌‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Cohosh‌ ‌root‌ ‌contains‌ ‌several‌ ‌compounds‌ ‌that‌ ‌are‌ ‌phytoestrogens ‌and‌ can‌ ‌create‌ ‌similar‌ ‌effects‌ ‌to‌ ‌raised‌ ‌estrogen‌ ‌levels‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌body,‌ ‌like‌ ‌increased‌ ‌breast‌ ‌tissue‌ ‌and‌ sensitivity.‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Cohosh‌ ‌can‌ ‌potentially‌ ‌increase‌ ‌estrogen‌ ‌in‌ ‌relation‌ ‌to‌ ‌progesterone.‌ 
Additionally,‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌when‌ ‌titrating‌ ‌off‌ ‌of‌ ‌or‌ ‌on‌ ‌to‌ ‌pharmaceutical‌ ‌HRT‌ ‌to‌ ‌combat‌ ‌side‌ effects‌ ‌like‌ ‌hot‌ ‌flashes.‌ ‌I’ve‌ ‌had‌ ‌many‌ ‌clients‌ ‌who‌ ‌have‌ ‌self-experimented‌ ‌with‌ ‌Balck‌ ‌Cohosh‌ prior‌ ‌to‌ ‌seeing‌ ‌me,‌ ‌and‌ ‌most‌ ‌complained‌ ‌of‌ ‌undesirable‌ ‌effects‌ ‌like‌ ‌migraines.‌ ‌Please‌ ‌only‌ ‌use‌ this‌ ‌herb‌ ‌under‌ ‌the supervision‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌trusted‌ ‌herbalist.‌ ‌‌Red‌ ‌Clover‌ ‌‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌gentler‌ ‌phytoestrogenic‌ ‌herb‌ that’s‌ ‌much‌ ‌safer‌ ‌for‌ ‌self-experimentation‌ ‌(and‌ ‌makes‌ ‌a‌ ‌far‌ ‌tastier‌ ‌tea).‌ 
Maca‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Maca‌ ‌root‌ ‌is‌ ‌known‌ ‌for‌ ‌its‌ ‌effects‌ ‌on‌ ‌fat‌ ‌distribution,‌ ‌and‌ ‌is‌ ‌credited‌ ‌with‌ ‌helping‌ ‌to‌ create‌ ‌or‌ ‌enhance‌ ‌the‌ ‌breasts‌ ‌and‌ ‌hips.‌ ‌However,‌ ‌Maca‌ ‌also‌ ‌has‌ ‌aphrodisiac‌ ‌effects ‌and‌ ‌can‌ increase‌ ‌erectile‌ ‌capacity‌ ‌and‌ ‌sperm‌ ‌count,‌ ‌which‌ ‌is‌ ‌something‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌into‌ ‌consideration‌ depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌personal‌ ‌goals.‌ ‌I‌ ‌sometimes‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌Maca‌ ‌for‌ ‌clients‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌on‌ 
Spironolactone,‌ ‌as‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌help‌ ‌to‌ ‌combat‌ ‌osteoporosis,‌ ‌one‌ ‌side‌ ‌effect‌ ‌of‌ ‌that‌ ‌drug.‌ ‌For‌ ‌clients‌‌ taking‌ ‌estrogen-dominant‌ ‌HRT,‌ ‌Maca‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌a‌ ‌nice‌ ‌accompaniment‌ ‌herb‌ ‌that‌ ‌aids‌ ‌in‌ ‌curve‌‌development‌ ‌and‌ ‌maintaining‌ ‌libido.‌‌‌
Vitex‌ ‌or‌ ‌Chaste‌ ‌Tree‌ ‌Berry‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Vitex‌ ‌can‌ ‌act‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌hormone‌ ‌regulator‌ ‌that‌ ‌works‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌pituitary‌‌gland,‌ ‌essentially‌ ‌increasing‌ ‌progesterone‌ ‌relative‌ ‌to‌ ‌estrogen‌ ‌and‌ ‌testosterone.‌ ‌This‌ ‌helps‌ ‌to‌‌regulate‌ ‌emotions,‌ ‌prevent‌ ‌acne,‌ ‌hormonal‌ ‌edema‌ and‌ ‌bloating,‌ ‌and‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌help‌ ‌to‌ ‌transition‌‌on to‌ ‌and‌ ‌off‌ ‌of‌ ‌estrogen-dominant‌ ‌HRT.‌ ‌I‌ ‌find‌ ‌that‌ ‌Vitex‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌aid‌ ‌in‌ ‌stabilizing‌ ‌hormonal‌‌fluctuations‌ ‌while‌ ‌on‌ ‌HRT.‌ ‌Vitex‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌sometimes‌ ‌increase‌ ‌breast‌ ‌size.‌‌
Fenugreek,‌ ‌Fennel‌,‌ ‌‌Licorice,‌ ‌‌and‌ ‌‌Hops‌‌ ‌all‌ ‌contain‌ ‌phytoestrogens,‌ ‌somewhat‌‌
anti-androgenic‌ ‌compounds‌ ‌that‌ ‌may‌ ‌promote‌ ‌estrogenic‌ ‌effects‌ ‌like‌ ‌breast‌ ‌tissue‌ ‌growth,‌ ‌etc.‌‌ These‌ ‌are‌ ‌nice‌ ‌companion‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌to‌ ‌round‌ ‌out‌ ‌feminizing‌ ‌herbal‌ ‌blends.‌‌‌


If‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌had‌ ‌estrogen-sensitive ‌breast‌ ‌cancer,‌ ‌you‌ ‌should‌ ‌use‌ ‌caution‌ ‌or‌ ‌avoid‌ ‌phyto‌‌estrogenic‌ ‌herbs.‌‌
Caraway seeds, also known as fennel, can aid with gender dysphoria
Photo by Katrina Wright on Unsplash

Herbs‌ ‌to‌ ‌Support‌ ‌Increased‌ ‌Testosterone‌ ‌&‌ ‌Potentially‌ ‌“Masculinizing”‌ ‌Effects‌‌

Pine‌ ‌Pollen‌ ‌-‌ ‌‌Much‌ ‌like‌ ‌there‌ ‌are‌ ‌phytoestrogenic‌ ‌herbs,‌ ‌there‌ ‌are‌ ‌also‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌that‌ ‌contain‌ ‌phyto‌‌androgenic‌ ‌compounds.‌ ‌Pine‌ ‌Pollen‌ ‌contains‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌currently‌ ‌measurable‌ ‌and‌ ‌closest‌‌ approximation‌ ‌to‌ ‌human‌ ‌androgens‌ ‌like‌ ‌testosterone,‌ ‌DHEA,‌ ‌and‌ ‌androstenedione.‌ ‌Pine‌ ‌Pollen‌‌can‌ ‌act‌ ‌like‌ ‌a‌ ‌natural‌ ‌steroid‌ ‌that‌ ‌has‌ ‌androgenic‌ ‌effects,‌ ‌and‌ ‌supports‌ ‌androgenic‌ ‌hormone‌‌ production,‌ ‌resulting‌ ‌in‌ ‌masculinizing‌ ‌effects.‌ ‌My‌ ‌clients‌ ‌who‌ ‌supplement‌ ‌with‌ ‌Pine‌ ‌Pollen‌ ‌have‌‌ reported‌ ‌increased‌ ‌facial‌ ‌hair‌ ‌growth,‌ ‌feelings‌ ‌of‌ ‌more‌ ‌dense‌ ‌muscle‌ ‌mass,‌ ‌and‌ ‌increased‌‌ endurance/libido.‌‌‌
Ashwagandha‌ ‌-‌‌ ‌Ashwagandha‌ ‌is‌ ‌an‌ ‌adaptogenic‌ ‌herb‌ ‌that‌ ‌can‌ ‌act‌ ‌as ‌a‌ ‌hormonal‌ ‌precursor‌ ‌to‌‌testosterone.‌ ‌Several‌ ‌studies‌ ‌demonstrate‌ ‌that‌ ‌Ashwagandha‌ ‌supplementation‌ ‌led‌ ‌to‌ ‌a‌‌ significant‌ ‌rise ‌in‌ ‌levels‌ ‌of‌ ‌measured‌ ‌testosterone‌ ‌in‌ ‌participants.‌ ‌Another‌ ‌double-blind‌ ‌study‌‌ found‌ ‌that‌ ‌Ashwagandha‌ ‌supplementation‌ ‌decreased‌ ‌body‌ ‌fat‌ ‌percentage‌ ‌and‌ ‌increased‌‌ muscle‌ ‌size‌ ‌and‌ ‌strength‌ ‌after‌ ‌30‌ ‌days.‌ ‌In‌ ‌addition‌ ‌to‌ ‌potentially‌ ‌masculinizing‌ ‌effects,‌ ‌I‌ ‌like‌‌ Ashwagandha‌ ‌for‌ ‌clients‌ ‌who‌ ‌experience‌ ‌stress‌ ‌and‌ ‌anxiety,‌ ‌as‌ ‌this‌ ‌root‌ ‌also‌ ‌helps‌ ‌to‌ ‌ground,‌‌ center,‌ ‌and‌ ‌strengthen‌ ‌resilience.‌ ‌My‌ ‌clients‌ ‌have‌ ‌reported‌ ‌feeling‌ ‌stronger,‌ ‌more‌ ‌robust,‌ ‌“more‌‌ rugged,”‌ ‌and‌ ‌happier‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌result‌ ‌of‌ ‌taking‌ ‌Ashwagandha.‌‌‌
He‌ ‌Shou‌ ‌Wu‌ ‌‌-‌ ‌This‌ ‌is‌ ‌another‌ ‌wonderful‌ ‌herb‌ ‌for‌ ‌increasing‌ ‌strength‌ ‌and‌ ‌muscle‌ ‌mass.‌ ‌I‌ ‌also‌‌use‌ ‌He‌ ‌Shou‌ ‌Wu‌ ‌for‌ ‌clients‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌concerned‌ ‌about‌ ‌losing‌ ‌hair,‌ ‌as‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌help‌ ‌to‌ ‌counteract‌‌ “male-pattern‌ ‌baldness.”‌ ‌He‌ ‌Shou‌ ‌Wu‌ ‌has‌ ‌the‌ ‌added‌ ‌benefits‌ ‌of‌ ‌reducing‌ ‌oxidative‌ ‌stress‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌‌body,‌ ‌strengthening‌ ‌the‌ ‌blood‌ ‌by‌ ‌increasing‌ ‌red‌ ‌blood‌ ‌cell‌ ‌count,‌ ‌and‌ ‌improving‌ ‌circulation‌ ‌and‌‌energy‌ ‌levels.‌ ‌There’s‌ ‌speculation‌ ‌that‌ ‌He‌ ‌Shou‌ ‌Wu‌ ‌increases‌ ‌testosterone,‌ ‌but‌ ‌there‌ ‌don’t‌‌seem‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌any‌ ‌studies related to this fact.
Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌‌-‌ ‌I‌ ‌mainly‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌supplementation‌ ‌for‌ ‌clients‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌‌
currently‌ ‌taking‌ ‌testosterone-dominant‌ ‌HRT‌ ‌to‌ ‌prevent‌ ‌or‌ ‌curbside ‌effects‌ ‌like‌ ‌“male-pattern‌‌baldness”‌ ‌and/or‌ ‌acne.‌ ‌I‌ ‌find‌ ‌it‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌extremely‌ ‌effective‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌side‌ ‌effects ‌but‌ ‌would‌ ‌advise‌‌against‌ ‌taking‌ ‌Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌if‌ ‌a‌ ‌person‌ ‌isn’t‌ ‌taking‌ ‌synthetic‌ ‌T.‌ ‌In‌ ‌this‌ ‌case,‌ ‌Saw‌ ‌Palmetto‌ ‌should‌ ‌be‌ ‌combined‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌good‌ ‌quality‌ ‌B-complex‌ ‌vitamin‌ ‌and‌ ‌about‌ ‌30‌ ‌mg‌ ‌of‌ ‌Zinc.‌‌
Prickly‌ ‌Ash‌ ‌&‌ ‌Calamus‌ ‌Root‌ ‌‌-‌ ‌I‌ ‌use‌ ‌an‌ ‌elixir‌ ‌of‌ ‌these‌ ‌two‌ ‌herbs‌ ‌(tincture‌ ‌mixed‌ ‌with‌ ‌honey)‌ ‌to‌‌ smooth‌ ‌and‌ ‌ease‌ ‌voice‌ ‌transformation‌ ‌when‌ ‌a‌ ‌client‌ ‌is‌ ‌getting‌ ‌crackly/puberty‌ ‌voice‌ ‌while‌ ‌taking‌‌testosterone-dominant‌ ‌HRT.‌‌‌
Hawthorn‌ ‌Berry‌‌ ‌-‌ ‌Can prevent‌ ‌cardiovascular‌ ‌problems‌ ‌when‌ ‌a‌ ‌client‌ ‌plans‌ ‌on‌ synthetic‌ ‌T‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌long‌ ‌period‌ ‌of‌ ‌time,‌ ‌as‌ ‌this‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌hard‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌cardio‌ ‌system.‌‌‌
Stay‌ ‌tuned‌ ‌for‌ ‌‘Essences‌ ‌for‌ ‌Gender‌ ‌Euphoria’‌ ‌and‌ ‌‘Herbs‌ ‌for‌ ‌Post-Surgical‌ ‌Healing’!‌‌
Micaela Foley

Micaela Foley is a certified herbalist with an educational background in energetic and clinical herbalism, alchemy, & medical astrology. She completed the clinical practitioner course at Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine in Northern California and the foundational year program at ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism in New York City. Her herbal writings can be found through wellness resources like mindbodygreen, Shape magazine, & The Alchemist’s Kitchen, where she previously managed the herbal program. Currently, she lives and farms in Rhode Island. Micaela's herbal practice is committed to social activism, accessibility, & empowerment through education and mutual aid. She is available for private sessions, clinical work, & as a teacher, writer, and consultant.

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