When the term low testosterone is used, it is not actually defining the real issue. With the exception of glandular and/or organ failures, and/or disease, men will produce sufficient quantities of testosterone. When testosterone is produced, the vast majority of it is bound to a protein in the blood called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). Another portion of it is converted into estrogen (estradiol) by aromatase. Having estrogen is important to the testosterone production mechanism or the HPG (Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Gonadal) cycle, as it aids in regulating it. Lastly, there is an additional (small) portion that is converted into DHT (DiHydroTestosterone). Normally, there is only a small amount of free testosterone, about four (4%), available to support secondary male characteristics, muscle maintenance, and overall health and well being. The problem arises when these balances are thrown off, and the HPG cycle is disrupted.
What Causes the Testosterone Production Mechanism to become Disrupted?
Most people do not realize that a large portion of common pollutants, detergents, and chemicals we are all exposed to, imitate estrogen. Repeated and prolonged exposure to these environmental estrogen compounds can affect and disrupt the cycle by increasing the amount of estrogen in the body. While these amounts may be very small, some men will be affected because their testosterone production cycle produces at the low end of normal. Moreover, as men age, this cycle produces less total testosterone, making some others susceptible to the effects of environmental estrogen compounds. Indeed, reductions in testosterone could also lead to erectile dysfuntion as well.
Age produces some other unwanted effects as well. The naturally occurring enzyme, that converts some of the free testosterone into DHT, becomes more prevalent with age. This means that larger amounts of (the much needed and desired) free testosterone is lost to conversion. This has a double whammy on the body because DHT binds to the prostate and to hair follicles. When bound to hair follicles, it leads to baldness, and when it binds to the prostate, it leads to prostate problems. Additionally, as we get older, we tend to eat the wrong foods, and take less regimented exercise. This of course leads to gaining excess amounts of fat, and increased fat stores translates into increased conversion of free testosterone into estrogen. You may be thinking that if you got your doctor to prescribe testosterone, all will be well. That is not necessarily the case. Large influxes of added testosterone completely disrupts the testosterone production cycle. Moreover, without preventing the conversions of estrogen and DHT, added testosterone could make those problems worse, and could cause other medical issues to develop.
Natural and Herbal Remedies that Relieve and Reverse Low Testosterone
There are some personal things you can do to naturally increase your testosterone levels. The first one on the list is making love, which should be an easy and enjoyable one to accomplish. Love making increases testosterone levels and desire. However, be aware that this affect does not happen during self gratification. Resistance training or weight lifting also increases testosterone production. What you are looking to accomplish here is known as “getting the burn”. When the muscle is fatigued to the point where additional reps cannot be performed, and the muscle gets a burning sensation, you have reached that point. This burn is caused by lactic acid in the muscle tissue. This substance bypasses the normal testosterone production cycle, and works directly on the testicles. It causes specialized cells (leydigs cells) in the testes to produce testosterone directly. However, do not overdo it. Long and vigorous workout sessions without the required rest and rebuild periods will actually have the opposite effect. Indeed, over training can cause lowered testosterone levels, loss of muscle mass, and leave you susceptible to illness. The last one is shedding some of the excess fat. While that may seem like hard work, once you start working out, fat loss is inevitable. (See also “Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids) and CLA Help Reduce Body (Belly) Fat”).
• Chrysin is an isoflavone derived from plants like the passionflower. It works in the body by interfering with aromatase conversion. By interfering with this process, there is less estrogen produced from free testosterone, thereby increasing the amount of free testosterone available.
• Stinging Nettle. This herb contains compounds that interfere with the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Additionally, this herb supplies more than one benefit. Because it interferes with conversion, it leaves more free testosterone available in the body. Not only that, but because the testosterone is prevented from converting into DHT, there is smaller amounts of DHT in the body to affect your hair and prostate.
• Saw Palmetto berries contain fatty substances (plant phytoesterols) that also interfere with DHT conversion. Moreover, it contains compounds that bind to the prostate, thereby occupying the receptors used by DHT.
• DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a naturally occurring hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. However, as you get older, your body produces less of it. This hormone is essential for maintaining proper hormonal balance within the body.
The next two (2) herbal remedies, if used, should be taken on a staggered and cyclic eight (8) week schedule. Start taking each herb one (1) week apart from each other. Once you start taking them, they should only be taken for two (2) weeks before allowing for a one (1) week break. After the first break, continue taking the herbs for an additional two (2) weeks. Then you will take a three (3) week break. Once the last break is completed, start the eight (8) week cycle over again. Cycling these herbs is necessary because your body adjusts itself every twenty-eight (28) days. If you do not continue to cycle the herbs, your body will adjust the testosterone production cycle, reducing the benefits derived from the herbal remedies.
• Eurycoma Longifolia Jack is sometimes referred to as Malaysian Ginseng and illicits testosterone production in a slightly different way. This herb stimulates the cells of the testes, directly, to produce testosterone. Additionally, compounds in the herb interfere with SHBG, allowing some of the bound testosterone to break free.
• Tribulus Terrestris is actually classified as a weed. However, it contains compounds (steroid saponins) that cause the pituitary gland to secret a hormone (Luteinizing Hormone (LH)) that tells the testes to produce testosterone.
The problem of low testosterone is actually the problem of having low free testosterone. Since the male body produces sufficient quantities of (total) testosterone, it makes sense that if one could prevent it from being bound and converted, there would be plenty of free testosterone available to perform its intended functions. By making some slight lifestyle changes, and adding herbal remedies to your eating regimen, the effects of low free testosterone can be reversed, and normal levels of free testosterone can be recovered.
On a more personal note. Low testosterone is a real problem, with real solutions. I read about and researched these herbal remedies during the early 1990s. I was very curious about their effects, started using them, and still use them today. After taking these supplements for only three (3) months, my blood tests showed an increase in my free testosterone levels, and my estradiol levels had remained the same. While nothing in life is guaranteed, I got results from these herbal remedies, and believe in their use. It is your life, and your health and well being are in your hands. Play an active role in your health, and you will be happier and healthier for it. Remember, it is wise to consult your doctor before starting any self-help regimen(s).