If cisgender men and women can use herbal medicine to improve their reproductive health and increase or decrease the levels of certain hormones in their bodies, it makes sense that transgender men and women would seek out similar herbal remedies to help their bodies match up to how they feel on the inside. This is still a very new area of research; for example, the molecular structure of phytestrogens (herbal hormones) looks a lot like that of the estrogen ciswomen produce naturally, but it also looks a lot like some anti-estrogens such as cancer drug tamoxifen, and no conclusive studies have been done yet to prove how they perform in the transgendered body. It’s also important to be mindful that some herbs are toxic in large doses, so it’s not safe to try and mimic a testosterone or estrogen shot through herbs alone.

Until more conclusive research is produced, the best way to use herbal medicines to support your transition is to use them to manage unwanted side effects, such as acne or mood swings.

Transmen frequently experience acne after starting on T, sometimes severe, and sometimes over their whole body. Obviously, hormonal treatments are going to be unsuitable, so managing the increase in oil using external products is usually the best choice. Burdock cream and and fine green marine clay masks are two products we’ve had excellent results with (one patient was able to dramatically improve severe acne in less than a month using these products). Garlic is also useful, internally or rubbed on the affected area,

Hormonal mood swings in both transmen and transwomen won’t be able to be treated with hormone pills, and drug-based treatments aren’t always a viable or suitable option. Herbal remedies prescribed to cisgender persons may not be suitable either; for example, St John’s Wort can cause estrogen to break down faster, reducing the effectiveness of your hormone treatments. Valerian extract, honeysuckle and passionflower may be better options.

Hair thinning and loss is an issue for both transmen and women; rosemary oil rubbed into the scalp twice a day may prove effective.

In all cases, the best thing you can do is consult a herbalist; someone who you can discuss your medical transition with, and who can advise the best treatments in light of your specific medications and any other non-transition related health issues you may be experiencing.