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More commonly and colloquially known as “man boobs”, gynecomastia is a condition, caused by ill functioning of the endocrine system, occurring in men and which causes them to grow abnormally large breasts. Although non-cancerous as a formation and not life threatening, the condition can be painful at times and, more importantly, cause great psychological distress, especially when it develops during puberty.
When diagnosed with gynecomastia, usually the patient needs to take some medication in order to rebalance their hormonal levels or to undergo surgery in order to remove the unwanted and unaesthetic tissue growth. However, before you rush to the doctor and submit yourself to the scalpel, here are some completely natural home-remedies which you can try and which could help you win against the self-confidence shattering “man boobs” medical condition.
What is gynecomastia and what are its causes?
Gynecomastia is a disorder of the human endocrine systems, which occurs in men and which causes them to develop breasts. Some 70% of adolescent boys experience breast development during puberty, but they lose the growth as their bodies continue to change. So do newborns and adolescents, because of the female hormone levels they have, which are not yet completely balanced. But, when the growth does not disappear, it’s a definite sign that something has to be done.
Sometimes, gynecomastia is associated with some diseases, such as the Klinefelter syndrome, certain cancers and metabolic dysfunctions. In the same way, gynecomastia often occurs in old men, partly because of weight gain and partly because old age comes with low levels of testosterone. Another cause for the condition is the use of certain medication, like HIV medication, ulcer medication, antifungal medication, some antibiotics like metronidazole and some antidepressants, such as amitriptyline. It can also be caused by the usage of some herbals, like tea tree oil, lavender and don quai, also known as Angelica sinensis or the female gingseng. Another cause of the disease is the use of some drugs, like marijuana.
There are four types of gynecomastia, graded by their severity:
- Type I – which means minor enlargement of the breasts and no skin excess;
- Type II – which means mild enlargement and no skin excess;
- Type III – which means moderate enlargement but with skin excess;
- Type IV – this combines significant enlargement and skin excess.
Gynecomastia treatment options
Classical treatment for gynecomastia is based on traditional ways of curing different conditions, such as surgery and medication. It is considered a serious condition, especially in young boys, because it can virtually cripple their self-confidence and destroy their social and romantic development. There are many derogatory terms used to describe this condition, such as ‘man boobs, ‘moobs’, ‘boy-knockers’ or ‘chesticles’, which are extremely hurtful for boys and men with this condition. There are support groups, which organize discussions and sessions, so that they can improve their self-esteem. All these derogatory terms and their consequences are the main reason why patients turn to one of the following classical treatments:
- Medication – it’s most effective when taken in the first two years after the condition appeared. Aromatase inhibitors are usually prescribed as gynecomastia treatment pills for the puberty type.
- Surgery – which means removing the breast tissue, with a scalpel or using laser and which is the most common way of dealing with the disease. However, it is painful, costly and has many side effects, such as hematoma, infection, breast asymmetry, loss of feeling, necrosis of the nipple scars and pain. A good thing to know here is that the NHS in the UK and the insurance systems in the USA do not cover the cost of these operations, as they are considered pseudo-operations or having esthetic purposes.
- Radiation therapy and the drug called tamoxifen are viewed as “other” types of treatments, but they are not usually recommended. Radiation is very dangerous and tamoxifen has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in gynecomastia.
Natural remedies for gynecomastia
Seeing as all the above treatments are painful, dangerous or costly, people turn to gynecomastia treatments without surgery. This is, probably, for the best, considering that we are talking about teenage boys and children mostly which require special attention when it comes to treatment. Here are the best gynecomastia natural treatments that you can start trying today.
#1. Omega 3 fatty acids plus Zinc
As far as Omega 3 fatty acids are concerned, you can easily get them from fish, so one simple and tasty treatment for gynecomastia is to switch from your normal diet to a fish and sea food one. Zinc is another great helper when it comes to this condition, because it boosts natural testosterone production. Apart from gynecomastia, you can tell you have a zinc deficiency if you have white spots under your fingernails. Foods that are rich in zinc and which you should eat daily are oysters, beef, liver, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chocolate or cocoa in general, beans and mushrooms.
#2. Devil’s Claw
It might sound foul, but it’s actually a highly beneficial plant. It looks very feminine and delicate, but it has been used since ancient times to increase virility in men and it also, just like zinc supplements, boosts testosterone levels. It’s very simple to introduce it to your daily diet. You need to boil the root of this herb and make it into a tea which you have to drink twice a day. You can add sugar and honey if you like, because it will not affect its healing powers.
#3. Milk thistle
Another great natural gynecomastia treatment is milk thistle. You can make tea out of it, just like with the devil’s claw. You have two options as far as the tea goes: either boil the leaves or the roots or find a high quality extract to add to boiling water. You can replace the milk thistle with dandelion leaves or extract, because it has the same beneficial elements for gynecomastia. Apart from tea, you can also take milk thistle in the form of supplements. Find the ones that have actual thistle extract or Silymarin, an active constituent of milk thistle. This particular plant is especially beneficial if you’re suffering from gynecomastia caused by liver damage or by medication for alcoholic liver.
This is a very well-known oriental spice, that can be used in any dish and that helps by burning the fat in the chest area. It also naturally raises testosterone levels, has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is generally recommended for the daily well-being. Two or three turmeric teaspoons per day should do the trick.
You might not have heard of it, but guggul is an ancient medicinal plant which is nowadays used to naturally treat gynecomastia, because it reduces the feminine hormone levels in the body and helps elevate the masculine ones. Also, if used on a regular basis, just like the turmeric, it may help you burn off the excess fat, not only in your breasts, but abdomen and thighs as well. It is easily accessible at your local market or online in special bio shops.
#6. Red Clover
Another one of the common plants found in your backyard just like the milk thistle, about which you didn’t know has such beneficial effects is the red clover. It’s an herb very high in genistein, an agent that drastically reduces estrogen levels. You can find and consume it in the shape of a supplement or in teas. However, if you happen to be taking other hormone supplements as well, it’s a good idea to first consult with your physician before starting on a red clover diet.
#7. Avoiding certain foods, spices, herbs and oils. Another great way in which you can either prevent or treat gynecomastia is by avoiding certain things, such as:
- Pollutants – mostly lead, which has been directly related to this disease;
- Soy products – which are known to dramatically increase estrogen levels;
- Alcohol – because it also encourages the production of female hormones and worsens the disease;
- Salt – as it helps retains fluids in the body;
- Illegal substances – such as marijuana, amphetamines or heroin, which one should avoid altogether, not just when suffering from gynecomastia;
- Tea tree and lavender oils – if suffering from this disorder, you need to make sure that you absolutely do not come in contact with these oils and not just your chest region, but your hands, face or hair as well. They get absorbed into the skin and from there they reach the blood stream which takes them all over your body, including your breasts.
Some people suffering from gynecomastia have turned to homeopathy as a treatment but, unfortunately, homeopathic remedies have not worked. This doesn’t mean you cannot try them yourself, though. Every person’s body is different therefore, yours might react differently. Other people have tried the Ayurvedic treatments and have gotten some results. So, you can study and try them at home or you can visit a specialist right at the core of this practice, in New Delhi, India, Hyderabad or Pakistan.
Apart from all these, there are also the classical natural remedies, good for everything body-related, like eating more fruits and vegetables, getting more exercise and drinking more water. Make sure to follow these as well for a healthy life style and you will drastically reduce the risks of developing gynecomastia as well as managing to keep it under control.
#8 Use exercise strategically.
Gynecomastia can actually be noticeably reduced through targeted exercise. By intentionally working out the muscles in the area surrounding the nipples, one can help to minimize the presence of unwanted breast tissue and burn gathered fat simultaneously.
The most effective exercises for targeting this area are pushups and dips. Both of these should be done using special hand positions to maximize their effects.
Do pushups using a close grip that places both of your hands in a triangular position against one another. For dips, angle your thumbs inward, towards your body, and lean forward for each repetition to highlight the nipple region of your pectoral muscles.