Lowered testosterone in men, often accompanied by other symptoms such as hair loss and weight gain, is often seen as an inevitable consequence of aging. However, there is evidence that lowered testosterone is more likely to be linked to health problems that men who are older face in increasing numbers but which are not necessarily due to the aging process itself. For example, an increasing number of older men take medication for high blood pressure which comes about due primarily to lifestyle factors, but which has the undesired side effect of reducing testosterone and lowering libido. There are some herbal remedies that exist which can help boost testosterone levels naturally. The effectiveness of these herbs will be enhanced if any unhealthy lifestyle factors that have contributed to the lowered testosterone levels are reduced at the same time.
Ginseng is a stimulating herb that increases activity in the hypothalamus, a gland that governs the secretion of sex hormones, including testosterone. When these sex hormones are not being produced at an adequate rate, testosterone levels can be lowered. Ginseng also can increase blood flow to many different parts of the body. It provides support to the adrenal glands as well, stimulating them to produce adrenaline. Having low adrenaline levels is linked to lowered testosterone.
Stress can reduce testosterone, so any herb that lowers stress can help improve testosterone levels. However, it is important to find relaxing herbal treatments that do not consequently decrease sexual desire. Kava kava and valerian are two herbs that fit into this category and would be recommended if stress is a major cause of lowered testosterone in the patient.
Kava kava contains compounds known as kavalactones that produce analgesic (pain-reducing) and sedative effects. One mechanism by which these kavalactones accomplish this is by blocking sodium channels. Users should note that kava kava should be used sparingly, however, because of the potential undesired effects on the liver. Valerian’s valepotriate compounds may be responsible for this herb’s sedative property. It could also be valerian’s ability to increase the release of specific neurotransmitters that cause the relaxation experienced by its users.
Prolactin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, and can inhibit the production and effectiveness of testosterone. Excess prolactin in men can be caused by stress and alcohol. Herbs that address excess prolactin in the system can be helpful in improving testosterone levels as well. Stinging nettles can help reduce prolactin, as can leading a healthier lifestyle that includes less stress, a balanced diet, and decreased alcohol consumption.
Other herbs to consider for increased testosterone include mucuna pruriens and tongkat ali. Mucuna pruriens acts as a stimulant for growth hormones and contains anabolic compounds that help raise testosterone levels. Tongkat ali’s glygopeptides are responsible for the herb’s ability to help when testosterone is low.
Men as they age do not have to accept lowered testosterone and all of its consequences as unavoidable. If they correct their unhealthy habits and engage in herbal therapy, they can enjoy adequate testosterone for decades to come.