Boosting low testosterone is a billion dollar business. Testosterone pretty much defines what it is to be a man. But it’s so much more than that. Women also need this hormone; and when levels return to an optimal level, symptoms of health are restored – increased strength, energy, libido, confidence, and mental clarity for both genders.
But are we masking a bigger underlying issue by simply replacing what isn’t there? I think the answer to that is complicated. So let’s try to understand what is testosterone, what causes low testosterone, and what makes it go up and down depending on age and other factors.
On average, a man loses 1% of total testosterone every year after mid 20’s. This alone is a problem as we age; but that is an old average. I have seen many men in their 40’s with levels of a man in his 80’s!!! There is something more insidious at play than age alone.
We all know stress doesn’t make anything better. In fact, as stress levels go up, cortisol levels rise in long term stress conditions. Both cortisol and testosterone come from cholesterol; and comprise of a whole family of steroid hormones. If the body experiences stress, cholesterol is shunted to produce cortisol and not testosterone. It is a simple decision of the body – survival mode or “thrival mode.”
Furthermore, cortisol raises belly fat; and fat cells have an enzyme, called aromatase, that converts testosterone to estrogen. This becomes a vicious cycle.This is a major factor for many people, both men and women; and deserves an entire book on the subject. Take home message, lower stress levels – yoga, deep breathing, meditation, exercise (done right), nutrition, herbs, and so on.
Environmental Hormone Disruptors
Glyphosate, Monsanto’s leading pesticide found in Roundup. This toxic chemical is causing major issues as it is a powerful sequester of minerals like zinc and manganese; important for hundreds of chemical reactions in your body, especially in testosterone production. In fact, most of the gluten sensitivity that we are seeing clinically is not celiac disease or even an allergy, but a reaction to the glyphosate sprayed on our grains. This is a very big problem that we are just beginning to uncover and being that 38 countries have already banned this substance, hopefully America is not far behind. Take home message, eat food that is not sprayed with pesticide!I saved the best/worst for last!
Xenoestrogens are a class of man-made synthetic substances that, when put in or on our bodies, bind to estrogen receptors and cause long term imbalances to our steroid hormone system. While men and women have different levels of estrogen and testosterone, I have seen men with DOUBLE their estrogen level! This is clearly not a favorable outcome for men. And some women have very high levels of estrogen which cause a whole world of issues for them.
Many doctors are just simply replacing low testosterone levels without really tackling the underlying cause. Naturopathic physicians are trained from the get go with the right philosophy to do everything we can before going to replacing the hormones, when appropriate. There are some natural ways to boost the good hormones and reduce the less favorable ones. We use the science of nutrition, metabolism and even certain botanicals to assist the body in the healthy balance of hormones. Testosterone is the acclaimed “fountain of youth” for men and we now know so much more about how to do it correctly without harmful risks or side effects. Consult with your friendly neighborhood naturopathic physician and get started to achieving a healthier you both inside and out.
by Dr. Steven Sorr, Medical Director at Source of Health in Scottsdale, AZ
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