More Queer Herbs (Masculine)

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My last post covered some important things to understand about feminizing herbs to use for natural AMAB transition so in this one, I’d like to talk about masculinizing herbs. As it happens, if you type in “AFAB herbal transition” into a search engine, you will get very little of anything useful on the first page, but if you look up “herbal testosterone” or “natural testosterone,” you’ll get all kinds of hits from body-building sites and hyper-masculine macho man health freaks who would just love to tell you everything about every masculine herb ever which is great! Because it means we don’t really have to do any work – it’s the one time patriarchy ever worked in my favor (but I won’t say “thank you”).

White Button: Prevents the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, thus helping to retain testosterone. If taking precursors to hormones, this mushroom will make sure they turn into testosterone. Super fun and can be grown at home.

Phytotestosterones include puncture weed, stinging nettle and pine pollen.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, cabbage, kress, and bok choy work well as dietary supplements which stimulate testosterone production and help to flush out estrogen.

Some people suggest taking progesterone along with their testosterone supplements, but I’m not entirely sure why so I can’t say I would recommend it without understanding the reasoning behind it. What I would recommend is damiana, a smokable herb, often used as a substitute for weed that works as a mood lifter and an aphrodisiac. Since testosterone tends to make folks moody and horny, damiana might work well as a mood stabilizer.

It is also extremely important to exercise! A regular exercising/body building regimen is really important to effective masculinization because it frees up the testosterone in your body to be used. And while all exercise regimens should be balanced, upper body fitness helps a lot for passing as male.

Once again, I’m not a medical professional or an herbalist, just some kid who found some things and thought it’d be cool to share with others. If anybody has more information on the subject of herbal transition, please comment and let me know. I want only to learn and share!

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Update on Queer Herbs (Feminine): Some Things folks should know.

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Lucky and I have been doing more research on the subject of herbal gender transition and have learned some pretty important things for anybody who might be interested in this particular method.

As it turns out, chaste tree berry(vitex agnus-castus) is in fact an anti-androgen, but one should be very careful of the dosage because in the incorrect dosages, it can actually increase testosterone production.  Also, abuse of this particular herb can cause a stroke (in the same way that medical estrogen can cause heart attacks).

Alcohol!  Alcohol inhibits estrogen conversion into testosterone.  Of course, this doesn’t mean become an alcoholic, but perhaps just a glass of wine a day to help the medicine go down.

Girl Juice claims that saw palmetto is a phytoanti-androgen, but I have heard it used as a masculinizing supplement, so I can’t be quite sure.  However, as testosterone is a particularly volatile hormone, I tend to think that herbs effecting testosterone levels can have varying effects depending on the dosage one uses and the other herbs used in combination with them.

The list of phytoestrogens is loooonnnngggg and I won’t be going over every last detail of every last plant, but I will warn folks about a couple of them:

Black Cohosh: This is a powerful phyto-estrogen, traditionally used for menopause symptoms (that’s a good clue if you’re looking for herbal estrogen supplements btw), menstrual pains, and blood circulation.  This last thing is super important – Black Cohosh is a very strong blood-thinner.  Large doses can be poisonous, so if you try this herb, be very careful and take at your own risk.

Blue Cohosh: This Cohosh seems much safer than its aforementioned brother, and can be used by AFAB folks to regulate (or terminate) menstruation and to induce labor (or miscarriage).  It’s generally used in combination with Black Cohosh, but also goes well with wild yam, but should not be taken at all for folks with high blood pressure.

Licorice Root: This herb is absolutely amazing, and should be used very, very sparingly, if at all.  It’s great for all kinds of ailments, really, and it also contains a lot of estrogen.  However, it is not particularly safe; can cause headache, lethargy, water and salt retention, potassium secretion (you’ll purge potassium), raised blood pressure, and possibly cardiac arrest.  Licorice is good for colds, arthritis and can be used as a laxative, but I don’t suggest it for hormones.

For more information about herbal feminization, you can check out Girl Juice, which is where I got some of the most basic information about some of these herbs, but further research into the side-effects of many of these herbs is heavily suggested.  I am not an herbalist or medical professional, just some Queer on the internet who was curious about what might work for my partner and me. 

Also!  Lucky has switched from pharmaceutical hormones to herbal ones through The Phoenix Project, an (admittedly) evil capitalist organization which provides herbal pill supplements for transition.  While this particular organization isn’t all that great because they’re capitalizing on trans* folks and they don’t explain why they use certain ingredients (ensuring that people will be dependent upon their product), their supplements are cheaper than pharmaceuticals and Lucky seems to be reacting well to the change.

Day 3 of IDA, June 7th – There Are No Things About Things…

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Lucky and I went back to the waterfall on acid – we had brought some with us and spent the first two days exploring to find an ideal place and time to take it. We could not have chosen a better place, the waterfall is absolutely amazing, and mystical and awesome (in the literal sense of inspiring awe). I had a mud bath and, instead of washing it off in the waterfall, I spent the rest of the day with my breasts bare and covered in a layer of clay – as it turns out, that was a great idea. The clay protected me from sunburn, bug bites and even, at one point, helped my breast heal after having been attacked by a thorny branch on the way back to the trail. I didn’t even notice the scratch until a couple of hours later, right under my nipple, and by then it was completely healed and the clay had kept it from getting irritated or infected.

Speaking of infection, remember that toothache I mentioned in the first post? And the root canal I refilled? See, my gums had been swollen for days since then and I was taking Ibuprofen to bring down the swelling because it’s an anti-inflammatory (also a blood-thinner, but we’ll get to that in a second) and I had no access to antibiotics (well, I did but the first person I talked to in the med tent didn’t offer me any, another thing we’ll get to in a second). Well, during lunchtime, about mid-trip, my gums busted open and I began bleeding rather profusely from my mouth. It only lasted about a minute or two and it wasn’t painful at all, just a bit bothersome but I went to the med tent and my fears were essentially put to rest. Turns out, I had had an infection in my gums, most likely from having had an open cavity. When I refilled that cavity without first treating the infection, it got trapped and my body had to find a way to expel it, which it could only do by bleeding the infection out, a reaction made easier by the Ibuprofen I had been taking for the swelling. I’m pretty proud of myself for having been able to take this all in and react well to profuse mouth bleeding on acid, honestly. But anyway, med tent person whose name I don’t recall obtaining gave me an herbal mouth wash; prickly ash, I think it was; which helped to disinfect the area and also to close up the tissue so that the bleeding would stop. If you’ve never used a prickly ash wash, it is not pleasant in the mouth hole. It actually felt like my tongue was swelling and bleeding out through my taste buds or something, it got really cool and, actually, felt pretty fucking prickly. My tongue tingled for a good few minutes after I took it, but it did help; the bleeding stopped and my face seemed to go back to normal, the swelling was gone pretty much the second the bleeding had started in the first place and all that was left to do was to keep up with basic dental hygiene with the addition of a salt water rinse at least three times a day for a week or two or however long it might take for the infection to go away and stay gone. I can happily say now that my teeth and gums are as good as they were before, despite the gingivitis I’ve probably had for years.

Backing up a notch, before the bleeding out of my mouth incident, Lucky and I had a good long tent trip. After getting back from the waterfall, we were ready to lie down and rest and be naked and alone. As wonderful as IDA is, tripping around large groups of people, even in a setting where it is completely accepted, can be very stressful and Lucky and I both experience social anxiety from time to time (theirs is a bit more severe and consistent than mine, but on acid, social situations are probably the most stressful thing we could imagine). That said, before wandering out into the common areas where people were and things were happening, we had to prepare ourselves so we hid in our tent for a while, undressed because naked is the official uniform of hallucinogens and began writing out ideas for how to create a new world in the shell of the old. We discussed the patriarchy of histories and the need for new histories – those of the oppressed, ignored and hidden third gender to the challenge the binary enforced under patriarchy. We came to recognize how all forms of oppression are connected to the patriarchy as the patriarchy is connected to them (it’s cyclical). We spent our time realizing things we knew but hadn’t been able to articulate in the same way – hierarchy begins with gender imbalances and the balance is needed back. All cultures have been affected/destroyed/appropriated in the name of dominance and expansion, structural characteristics of a patriarchal society. Basically, shit be fucked up and we aim to fix it.

On a slightly different note, Lucky and I attended a workshop about Queer herbs after the whole gum-bleeding incident which was a nice way to take my mind off of my teeth. Queer herbs refers to herbalism for gender transition and it was a very loose workshop, open to anybody with an interest and, while there wasn’t a great deal of information available, we were able to learn some things which we had not known before. For instance, I was initially under the impression that kudzu is just a shitty invasive species running rampant throughout Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky but, as it turns out, on top of being a hugely invasive species, it is also a fairly powerful phytoestrogen as well as a useful treatment for alcohol addiction because drinking alcohol with this plant will make you physically ill (in fact, I’m fairly certain this is true with most medicinal herbs and with quite a lot of Queer herbs, but perhaps not to the same extent). Another phytoestrogen is black cohosh, best paired with wild yam, according to several trans* fem people in the workshop, as the latter is heavy in progesterone. We focused quite a lot of femininizing herbs for transition because there is very limited info on that in general – most of the info I have found on herbal transition is for masculanization and while I’m sure their is a patriarchal reason for that, I also imagine it has something to do with how much harder “feminine” transition is as opposed to “masculine,” particularly since nobody seems to know of any natural anti-androgen (testosterone blockers), without which, physical changes are improbable at best and, if any do occur, they will be too slight to matter to any person who wishes for a full physical transition. Without anti-androgens, phytoestrogen supplements can only do so much, causing mostly psychological effects, but if the supplement is strong enough, it might also work for softening skin and facial features, but full breast growth might require a progesterone supplement and cannot be accomplished (at least not easily or quickly) without an anti-androgen. Lucky is suspicious of this lack of natural anti-androgens and has been doing further research on the subject in hopes of finding something promising – initially, she believed that chaste berries might have this effect because they were once used by monks to wipe out the sex drive and render themselves sterile, but they are incredibly dangerous in large doses and in small doses have the exact opposite effect. Lucky and I will be looking more into herbal transition for AMABs so that they can grow and harvest their own treatment instead of having to rely on shadily obtained pharmaceuticals.

As for my own transitional needs, I learned that pine pollen is pure testosterone. I have a feeling this might apply to most pollens, but I could be wrong and I’ve heard this about pine pollen specifically before. There are also a good number of mushrooms and fungi with high testosterone levels but I can’t remember many of the names. At some point during the workshop discussion, I started getting distracted by bugs and fractiles and things (lest we forget I was still trippin’ pretty hard) and once we started getting into AFAB transition, the discussion became a little difficult to follow because there were so many people pitching in so much different information and I, having forgotten my notebook, could no longer keep track. Anyway, I felt it would be more useful for me to remember as much of the AMAB stuff as possible because it is harder to find reliable information on that than it is to find things for AFAB transition. The most important thing I think I learned was that none of this has been studied and that any and all information about herbal gender transition has been and must be obtained through personal experience and (safe) experimentation. That said, if anybody knows anything more on the subject of herbalism and, particularly Queer herbs, or if I have said some things which are incorrect, please comment and let me know what more there is to know 🙂

Also, for those interested in herbal transition or who have experience with it, the person who facilitated the Queer herbs workshop has a mailing list at queerherbs@gmail.com for anybody interested in sharing their experiences or getting advice/information for their own experimentation.