November is men’s health awareness month. This focus is very important because despite higher rates of many health disorders and diseases, men are still more likely to avoid preventative care and doctor visits.
The hormone testosterone plays an important role in many of men’s health concerns. Testosterone is primarily produced in the testes but also in the adrenal glands in men and women. Despite antiquated beliefs that testosterone induces male aggression, science has shown that normal testosterone levels are actually necessary for overall mental and physical well-being. Inadequate levels of testosterone have been shown to contribute to sexual dysfunction, depression, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
Signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels include changes in sexual function and sleep patterns, and physical changes including increased body fat, reduced muscle mass, decreased bone density, depression, and memory or concentration problems.
These symptoms can also be caused by other factors and the only way to know is to have testosterone levels checked by your health care provider. When assessing a man’s hormone status, clinicians frequently measure “total testosterone,” however it is free testosterone, that is the most relevant.
Supplements including ashwagandha, Asian or American ginseng, tribulus terrestris, and adrenal stress support can help to maintain testosterone levels. Some men may require testosterone in the form of bioidentical testosterone or other testosterone prescriptions. Once you have received your lab results discuss your options with your health care provider.
Studies show that the risk of developing a prostate disease actually increases as testosterone levels decrease, not the other way around.
Low testosterone is “very much underdiagnosed,” says Ronald Tamler, M.D., Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York.
Two very common health concerns for men are erectile dysfunction (ED) and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
ED affects approximately half of all Canadian men. Risk factors for ED are similar to cardiovascular disease including STRESS, smoking, hypertension, obesity, and lipid problems and low testosterone levels can also be a contributing factor. Supplements listed above to support testosterone levels may also help with ED.
BPH affects an estimated 60 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 60 years, and up to 75 percent of men over age 60.
An enlarged prostate can cause frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms, most commonly urinary and sexual difficulties. In a vast majority of cases, BPH has no known cause though most studies suggest that BPH is related to hormone changes that occur with age.
Supplement Support for the Prostate
Adrenal support helps reduce the harmful effects of stress hormones on men’s health.
Stinging Nettle has been shown to improve symptoms of BPH
Saw Palmetto has been shown to reduce the size of the inner lining of the prostate. If you are not getting the desired results with saw palmetto consider adding more plant sterols in the form of supplement and or pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds have been shown to improve urine flow. Some studies recommend taking 10 g of pumpkin seed daily.
Pygeum has also been shown to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the urogenital tract.
Zinc is a mineral found in large concentrations in the prostate gland, and deficiencies have been shown to potentially increase the likelihood of developing BPH.
There are products that combine some of these important supplements in one formula.
It can take years for symptoms of prostate problems to show so the most important thing is PREVENTION – we may think we are invincible until something happens to our health… WHY WAIT? Good prostate health requires a multi-faceted approach with a healthy lifestyle, hormone balance, and nutritional supplements.
KAREN JENSEN, (RETIRED ND)
Karen Jensen was in clinical practice for 25 years and although she is retired, she continues to write books and educate on the naturopathic approach to wellness. She is author or co-author of seven books, her most recent is Women’s Health Matters: The Influence of Gender on Disease.