Hirsutism is where hair grows on body areas in women that is characteristically normally seen in men such as the face, back and chest. More than half the women with this problem after having their blood tested, have excessively high levels of the male hormones, known as androgens.
In particular, hair in women growing on the upper lip and breasts can be distressing which can lead lead to low self-esteem and sometimes may require counselling.
It can effect women of Asian, Middle Eastern and European descent.
The incidence of hirsutism is said to be high as 8% in adult women of the United States. In some cases, hirsutism may be part of a more serious condition such as Cushing’s syndrome and it advised to be checked for that.
If hirsutism is associated with excessive androgens there can be signs and symptoms such as acne and changes in the feminine body shape including increased size of the shoulder muscles. In addition, there may be irregular menstrual cycles and deepening of the voice.
There is not a single drug on the market approved by the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) that can treat hirsutism.
Though ironically, there are other medications approved by the FDA, that actually cause the problem of unwanted hair growth because of their side effects. These include medicines such as Danazol (Danocrine) that is used to treat endometriosis.
Acupuncture for hirsutism is a safe and natural way to treat the unwanted hair growth and acupuncture can restore health and balance to the body.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that research has shown that acupuncture can reduce both hair density and length as well as reducing the male hormone testosterone.
Research has also demonstrated that acupuncture can decrease circulating testosterone as seen in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Hirsutism is a symptom associated with PCOS.
Traditional Chinese medical texts first recorded the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs for women’s problems nearly two thousand years ago and in fact, China already had the first specialist medical field of gynocology in the 1200’s.
In the traditional Chinese medicine treatment of hirsutism, the symptom of unwanted hair growth in women is seen as part of a greater energetic imbalance in the body and may involve multiple organs and meridians. Meridians are channels of energy flow that connect the major organs of the body to the torso and limbs. On each meridian there are acupuncture points at various locations and each acupuncture point has specific functions and uses.
This is why for example, in one person, acupuncture points in the leg may be used and for another person acupuncture points in the arms may be used instead. In some cases the liver may be the organ that needs to be addressed in the treatment of hirsutism and in another person it could be the spleen.
Each person needs to be diagnosed according to a traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis and then individualised treatment applied. Mr Alan Jansson, a well-known practitioner on Queensland’s Gold Coast who specialises in traditional Japanese style acupuncture needling techniques says “It gets difficult sometimes to explain to patients that hirsutism may just be regarded as the one thing in western medicine, but in eastern medicine, the excessive growth of hair could be coming from a multitude of different diagnoses. Admittedly though, in my experience, the liver is the most common cause. We look at it quite simply, the liver is an organ full of blood and floating around in the blood are all the nutrients and hormones. When we regulate the liver with acupuncture, then the whole body gets benefit”.
The acupuncture and Chinese herbs treatment for hirsutism will also help the patient with many other symptoms that they may be concurrently experiencing such as menstrual irregularities.
The use of the eight extra ordinary acupuncture vessels in the treatment of hirstism is also very useful.