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Testosterone Trouble?

A recent study in Australia reviewed Testosterone levels in men over thirty. From the TV commercials you would think that low testosterone is not only an epidemic, but the major cause of every health problem experienced by men over 40. WRONG! What they found was that while testosterone levels did drop about a percent a year starting around age 30, there was no real correlation between the testosterone level and erectile dysfunction, depression, or the myriad of other “diseases” the drug companies promise to cure with testosterone treatments. What was clearly related? Heart disease and diabetes, both of which are almost entirely preventable. Looks like men are the next targets of the same hormone replacement therapy pressures that women have been subjected to for decades. Now that even mainstream medicine is questioning the safety of synthetic estrogen and the idea that menopause is some kind of disease requiring chemical intervention, the pharmaceutical industry has to find new markets.

What does seem helpful? Lots of the men I see do test for Korean Ginseng, Damiana, and Sarsparilla. The first is traditionally used in Chinese medicine as a “warming” tonic, and is especially helpful to men who internalize stress and may experience symptoms that might also appear to be related to anxiety or depression. It simply pulls energy from the head down into the body and gets thinking connected to action, hence the “yang” effect. The other two have been more traditionally associated with general hormone balance. I have seen maca root promoted as an aphrodisiac or testosterone builder; what I have found is that it has its primary effect as an adaptogen for the liver, so it probably helps stabilize prostaglandins and therefore hormone production. It might be a good addition for someone who has been exposed to chemical and synthetic hormones, which are found in plastic and pesticides. (The former is a great reason not to microwave things in plastics or drink from plastic bottles….check this website for the whole microwave story and why you probably shouldn’t be microwaving anything at all…) Remember, too, that hormones are ultimately made from fats, so if you don’t eat enough healthy fats (avocados, cold-pressed oils, nuts, organic dairy, etc) your body has nothing to work with! These fats will NOT upset your cholesterol; in fact studies have shown that a handful of walnuts a day actually reduces it in a matter of a few weeks!

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