What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the testes in men, and in smaller quantities by the ovaries in women. It is also produced in the adrenal glands of the body.
Testosterone is very important in the development of male reproductive tissues in the testes and prostate. It also leads to the development of male sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass, and the growth of body hair. Testosterone is essential for general health and well-being and the prevention of osteoporosis.
Levels of testosterone are on average 7 to 8 times higher in men than in women and because men metabolize it in greater quantities production of the hormone is up to 20 times greater in men. Females are also more sensitive to the hormone. Testosterone is found in most vertebrates and counterparts are found in fish and even insects. This suggest that testosterone has an ancient evolutionary history.
Why is it important?
Testosterone is a vitally important component to ensuring healthy libido and healthy sexual function. Its’ effects can be divided into anabolic and androgenic effects. The anabolic effects include growth of muscle mass and strength, increased bone density and strength, and stimulation of linear growth and bone maturation. Androgenic effects include maturation of the sex organs and, during puberty, a deepening of the voice, growth of the beard and axillary hair. These are all typically associated with masculinity and a shortage of testosterone can cause feminization – loss of hair and weight gain especially around the belly and breast area.
Below is a summary of the main benefits to maintaining correct levels of testosterone in the body.
- Healthy libido and increased sex drive
- Improved muscle tone and mass
- Loss of fat
- Maintenance of youthful neurological structure
- Alleviation of depression
- Prevention of osteoporosis and arthritis
- Maintenance of a healthy prostate
Why do testosterone levels drop
It is natural for the production of testosterone to drop as men age. This is often exacerbated when older males are also suffering from obesity especially around the belly area. Another major cause of a reduction in testosterone levels is oxidative stress.
According to nutritional expert, Dr. Ray. D. Strand
“All the pollutants in our air, food, and water dramatically increase the number of free radicals we produce. Enormous stress, excessive exercise, cigarette smoke, sunlight, radiation, and every drug prescribed greatly increase the number of free radicals produced in the body. In fact, there has never been a generation on this planet subjected to more oxidative stress than this present one. We are literally under attack from our polluted environment, stressful lifestyles, and over-medicated society.”
Another large contributor to a lowering of testosterone is the presence of Xenoestrogens in the environment. These are molecules that mimic the female sex hormone estrogen and lead to a depletion in testosterone and accompanying feminization of the male body.
Synthetic xenoestrogens are widely used in industrial compounds, such as PCBs, BPA and phthalates, and have estrogenic effects on living organisms.
Apart from oxidative stress and the presence of xenoestrogenic toxins in the environment it has also been found that several lifestyle issues can also dramatically impinge testosterone production. These include drinking too much alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise and also stress. Lack of sleep has also been found to reduce the body’s ability to produce testosterone.
What are the effects of low testosterone?
- Loss of sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Depression, ill temper, poor memory
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Weight gain
- Mild anemia
- Hair loss
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Fatigue / low energy
- Loss of body hair
What can I do if I have a low testosterone level?
If you are suffering from one or more of the above symptoms then the only way to determine if low testosterone is the cause is to visit a doctor and get a blood test. If your Doctor determines that your levels are too low then there are various treatments available. The usual treatment is a series of testosterone injections. There are also gels and patches available that can be applied on a daily basis.
What herbs, minerals and vitamins can be used to treat low testosterone levels?
There are many herbs and vitamin supplements that will aid in the production and maintenance of correct testosterone levels. The most common and effective ones are listed below.
- Malaysian Ginseng (Eurycoma longifolia) – This is a plant native to Southeast Asia. Traditionally it has been used as an aphrodisiac and treatment for sexual dysfunction. It has also been used for centuries due to its antimalarial, anti-diabetic, anti-fever and antimicrobial properties.
- Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) is a tropical plant that grows in America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. In traditional folk medicine, puncturevine is used to increase testosterone levels naturally.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – is a plant that has been used for centuries by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicinal practice in India. It is used to treat sexual dysfunction and infertility. It has also been found to reduce oxidative stress by decreasing oxidants and increasing antioxidants.
- Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) – also known as yohimbine, is an extract created from the bark of the yohimbe tree. This tree grows in a very small area of western Africa. Africans have used yohimbe bark as an aphrodisiac for centuries and it is still used as a traditional remedy for sexual and erectile dysfunction.
- Pine Bark Extract (Pinus pinaster) – this is extracted from the bark of maritime pines. These trees grow in the western Mediterranean region and are also found in abundance in South Africa. It is used to lower cholesterol, enhance cardiovascular health, and improve blood flow and also to treat erectile dysfunction
- Zinc – this is an essential micronutrient. It is not produced naturally by the body and has, therefore, to be consumed to maintain required healthy levels. The body’s cells use zinc to fight off invading bacteria and viruses and it also helps produce DNA and genetic material. It is often taken as a supplement and is found in many foods such as red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, nuts, dairy products, and breakfast cereals. Zinc deficiencies are associated with low levels of testosterone in men.
- Vitamin D (ergocalciferol or cholecalciferol) – this vitamin was discovered in the early 1900s. It helps fight off bacteria and viruses, protects bones against osteoporosis, and helps calcium absorption and also increases testosterone levels.
- Chrysin (Passiflora incarnate) – This is a flavonoid extract found in blue passionflowers. Passiflora incarnate was used by early Americans and Europeans as a natural sedative. It has a history of being used as a natural testosterone booster
Where can I get Herbal Remedies to treat low testosterone and other related sexual problems?
The best way to determine if you have low testosterone is to get tested. Visit your Doctor and he will arrange the necessary tests. If you do have low testosterone levels then you may need hormone treatment which your doctor will also advise you on. If your levels are not very low then there are many herbal and natural supplements available in pharmacies that will assist you.