When people think about hormones and health, most consider this connection to be primarily a female issue. The truth is that hormonal balance is important in men as well. The male endocrine (hormone) system produces many of the same hormones as women, although at significantly different levels and ratios.
Male Reproductive Hormones (Androgens)
Hormone levels are an important factor in a man’s overall health, and they can fluctuate in relation to age, stress, nutrition, exercise and environmental toxicity. Testosterone is considered to be the main male hormone, or androgen. For various reasons testosterone levels can become deficient, leading to signs and symptoms in men such as fatigue, weight gain, decreased muscle mass, low sex drive, reduced concentration or motivation, depression and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Stress and Androgens
When it comes to its effect on hormone balance, stress has no gender preference. Men are just as susceptible to stressinduced hormonal imbalances as women. Long-term exposure to high stress levels can alter the level of the hormone cortisol in men, resulting in a wide variety of health concerns. Eventually, excessive cortisol production will cause a decrease in another stress hormone called DHEA, which in turn will lower testosterone production.
There are many environmental toxins (called xenoestrogens) that have been shown to mimic the effect of the female hormone estrogen in the body. When these toxins accumulate in a man’s body, they can decrease the ratio of testosterone to estrogen. Even though testosterone levels may be normal, this state of estrogen dominance can cause the same symptoms as low testosterone levels.
Saliva Hormone Testing
An excellent method of assessing hormone levels in men is saliva testing. This type of test (called a Male Hormone Panel) is available from many naturopathic physicians and can measure levels of several hormones including testosterone, cortisol and DHEA. Having saliva hormone testing performed allows a naturopathic doctor to determine exactly where imbalances in the androgen pathways are and prescribe a customized treatment plan that will allow for a faster return to hormonal balance.
Naturopathic doctors have many options to help men restore hormonal balance. The herb Tribulus terrastris has been shown to increase testosterone levels. Zinc and fish oil also help support male hormone production. Detoxification protocols can help rid the body of environmental pollutants and restore a normal testosterone to estrogen ratio. High intensity resistance exercise training naturally increases the body’s testosterone levels. A comprehensive naturopathic protocol including dietary, exercise, stress reduction, herb and supplement recommendations can help direct male patients towards optimal health.
Dr. Arjuna Veeravagu is a naturopathic physician, registered acupuncturist and founder of Sage Clinic in Yaletown. He has a focus on hormone balancing in his practice and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Veeravagu at Sage Clinic call (604) 697-0397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.