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Prism Blog, Self Care for Trans Health

Herbs for Transitioning: The Basics

This is a follow-up post to “The Basics.” Also see the transmasculine post here, and the feminizing herbs post hereFor information on estrogen and progesterone supportive herbs, check out my follow-up article on Feminizing Herbs

For gender affirming transition, herbs can be used alone to create very mild ‘energetic’ effects or to support the body to counteract any side effects of synthetic hormones. Note: Most herbs are unlikely to have a significant effect without any other transition methods. If you are looking for physical effects, prescription hormones are the safest way to make that happen. The dosages you would need to take of herbs in order to get a physical effect can be dangerous.

DO NOT take herbs without consulting with an herbalist to ensure they are safe for you. DO NOT combine herbs with your medications without discussing with a healthcare provider.

The Basics:

It’s first important to take care of your body with proper nutrition so that you can handle the changes  and stress that will accompany transitioning. All hormones are made of fat, so it’s important to eat good fats (raw oils & omega 3s especially) to help your body form and transform those hormones, and also to coat your nerve cells (their myelin sheaths are also made of fat) to help you cope with stress and stay emotionally healthy. Fats form the boundaries of our cells–they keep out and let in what we want to–we need good fats in our bodies to have good boundaries physically and emotionally!

We ALL have the same hormones, just in different amounts and we USE different amounts of them too. Furthermore, we can change how our bodies use the hormones we already have. Every body makes progesterone from cholesterol, and that progesterone can turn into estrogen OR testosterone. The estrogen and testosterone in our bodies can also convert back and forth (estrogen to testosterone and vice versa). This is the reason you want to get your hormone dosages right: if you take too much, your body is just going to convert it into another hormone to maintain balance in your system. This could actually counter the desired effects of the hormone you are taking: too much estrogen in your system and your body will start converting it to testosterone, counteracting the changes you want to make.

Coming up with a plan for your body:

There are many different options for transitioning, even when just using synthetic hormones. Progesterone itself helps to build tissue and can often be useful for developing breasts (taken externally) or muscle tissue (taken internally). Aromatase is what turns testosterone into estrogen, so you can take extra aromatase instead of (or in addition to) taking estrogen. Likewise, you can take aromatase inhibitor to prevent that testosterone from turning into estrogen, instead of taking testosterone. There are many options for prescription hormones; it’s important to talk to your doctor about what will work best for your body.
For most people, herbs aren’t going to change your hormones drastically alone, so you might choose to start out taking synthetic hormones and, once you’ve achieved the effect you want, use herbs to lower your dose of synthetic hormones or switch to herbs entirely. Herbs can maintain the hormone levels and characteristics you’ve built up with synthetic hormones. This is a good alternative to the sometimes health damaging side effects of long-term synthetic hormone use.

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References include:

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

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8 thoughts on “Herbs for Transitioning: The Basics

  1. Hi! Thank you so much for this great resource! I only have a few questions for clarification, because I’m german, so I’m not always sure which plant you mean. I tried looking them up, but often got several results because several different plants go by the same name sometimes. For example, could you tell me which prickly ash (for voice transformation) you mean? Is it the plant that Sezchuan pepper comes from? Sorry for being confused :/

    • katrinahanson

      Great question! It is the Zanthoxylum americanum, the Common Prickly-ash. It is usually used for circulation problems and detoxifying, and can be used after surgery (NOT before!) for this, and it also soothes the larynx and acts as an anti-paralytic on the vocal chords.
      I will edit my page to clarify that this herb helps ease voice transition brought on by testosterone use, making it smoother and less “squeaky”, it does not itself cause voice transformation. Thanks for your question!

  2. Reblogged this on The Prodragonist and commented:
    Anybody interested in herbal transition should check out this blog post. There is some really great info on here which has answered so many of my biggest questions concerning why certain herbs effect hormones and how. It is only an overview and anybody seriously considering herbal transition should do their own research and make sure they know what is right for their body, but this is literally the best guide I have seen on the internet.

    • katrinahanson

      Thanks so much for sharing this, it’s great for all of us to share what we know so that we can learn faster!
      I’m always happy to post links to research that other people have done as well.

  3. Holy fuckbeans, thank you so much for linking me to this – it’s exactly what I was looking for.

    In case you’re interested, there is a super beautiful Queer person at IDA in TN who has started an email list through which to share personal herbal transitioning research and experiences – queerherbs@gmail.com. I’m sure they’d super appreciate some more participation in the discussion.

  4. Pingback: Natures Wonder Drugs: Herbs! | Web of Adam

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