Plus if you’re a female reading this, chances are you’ll know a bloke who can benefit from this info also! It brings me great pleasure as a male Naturopath and one with a keen interest in men’s health to team up with SuperFeast to help get more males engaged and educated when it comes to these topics. A frank reality is that most of the wellness industry is comprised of female practitioners and by virtue, is centred largely around female health. Let me say that the nature of female physiology is without a doubt, undeniably complex and deserving of this degree of attention.
However… male health has fallen by the wayside and is something that tends to be back-seated and oversimplified. Things are slowly changing though, especially in the last few years with the bio-hacking movement, more interest into how botanicals affect our hormones, as well as the popularity of certain health entrepreneurs…
Thankfully we are starting to move away from the old notion depicted below which although hilarious, tends to reinforce the over-simplistic portrayal of male physiology and its shuns its importance. The fact that infertility is 40-50% male-accountable demonstrates that more attention is needed folks!
THE LOWDOWN ON T! (T = Colloquial Term for Testosterone)
According to several studies, it turns out male hormonal health and testosterone in particular has been on a steady decline for decades. The SuperFeast crew have a cool article that lays down the basics of testosterone over here.
In fact, a 2007 study in the Journal of Endocrinology compared longitudinal male-hormone data between generations of American men of the same age and geographic locations. One of the main aims of the study was to assess changes in mean total testosterone production throughout the generations. The authors found substantial age-independent decreases of up to 15% in total testosterone concentrations amongst participants in 2007 compared to the previous biomarkers collected in 1987. Those biomarkers of 1987 too were decreased from their preceding generational data gathered in the 1960’s. This amongst other studies highlights the growing impact of dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors on testosterone production in men - independent of natural age-related decline.
SIGNS/SYMPTOMS OF LOW T
Signs of low testosterone can include erectile dysfunction (ED), poor motivation, depression, lethargy, low immune function, inability to retain muscle, poor joint integrity, weight gain/weight loss, urinary dysfunction and ejaculatory anhedonia (no pleasure from orgasm) to name a few.
Mother nature comes to the rescue once again and turns out she has provided us with some pretty darn effective botanicals for stimulating male androgen formation (male androgens being male sex hormones). In this blog we are going to focus primarily on Taoist tonic herbs such as deer antler, cordyceps mushroom and eucommia bark as well as the Ayurvedic ashwagandha.
Ethically raised and sustainably harvested, SuperFeast Deer Antler packs a huge punch in the male realm. Known as an aphrodisiac in ancient Taoist texts, its reputation heavily associates it with male reproductive optimisation and promoting Yang Jing which refers to kidney and adrenal fortification. Deer antler is ideal for men seeking more strength, resilience, heightened recovery from physical output, supporting strong bone density, muscle tone, and those suffering from catabolic imbalances typically following surgery, trauma and illness. Due to deer antler’s potent uplifting actions, it’s good to cycle on and off it (5 weeks on / 2 weeks off) and listen to your body's response along the way.
Cordyceps (not unlike other elite herbs of the time) was confiscated back in the Tang dynasty era of China if found among working class men and given up to royalty only due to its superior Yang fortifying energy. Men typically report significantly increased endurance, sexual stamina and increased resilience to external stress and illness. All hallmark signs of improved testosterone production.
I’ve seen this herb truly change the game for men who’ve been in the thick of chronic fatigue, adrenal dysfunction and extend all the way to athletes wanting to gain a competitive edge without using artificial hormone replacement. One of my own personal favourites in the apothecary and offers a great deal to those recovering from autoimmune and/or viral issues. Check out the Amazing Health Benefits of Cordyceps Mushroom here.
Eucommia is the premier go-to for men with chronic lower back pain, poor bone density, stiffened fascia, arthritic conditions, weak tendons and seeking to uplift their hormone health. I often recommend Eucommia Bark to tradesmen who are constantly demanding arduous labour from their bodies and whose androgens might be lacking in response to increased physical demand and burnout. Together these both hint at weakened adrenal function, for which eucommia bark is also extremely well regarded both traditionally and contemporarily.
Perhaps one of the best all round herbs from the Ayurvedic system that benefit most, ashwagandha (AKA Withania somnifera) has to be one of the premier herbs for down regulating stress hormones in the body whilst simultaneously building testosterone and DHEA. Ashwagandha (the strength of a horse) happens to have excellent affinity for the thyroid and is ideal for those blokes whom carry a bit of extra baggage or are sluggish without caffeine. These can be signs of lowered thyroid function for which ashwagandha is ideal. The SuperFeast crew dive into this a bit deeper in this article, here.
It gets better guys, SuperFeast Ashwagandha can also be taken before bed to help induce a state of calm and promote that nice transition into deep sleep. There's a perfect SuperFeast recipe called Sleepy Ashwagandha Milk here. These amazing dual-directional attributes are not uncommon in the realm of tonic herbs and ashwagandha does not disappoint here. One of my top 5 herbs for restoring male vigour.
Herbs such as tongkat ali, shilajit, maca root, fenugreek seeds and muira puama are just some of the additional botanicals I use in my clinical practice. As we are all unique and complex human beings, it’s always best to perform a thorough case assessment to evaluate constitutional elements properly and work out which herbs (or combination) are appropriate for each person.
1. Ditch the plastic and switch to glass
Plastics contain estrogen-mimics (i.e. BPA) which latch onto our estrogen receptors and accumulate over time and therefore antagonise our androgens.
2. Maca root
Include 1-2 tablespoons of organic Peruvian maca root per day in your smoothies or breakfast bowels. A potent aphrodisiac shown to be beneficial for poor erectile maintenance, sexual dysfunction and encourages male fertility.
3. Icing your testicles
You read that correctly. There are well known studies citing the testosterone and androgen-supporting benefits that arise from regular application of cool packs and cold temperature therapy in this region. The testicles are outside of the body after all and excess heat in the region has been shown to reduce spermatogenesis.
15 minutes of an evening lads!
4. Get sun where the sun don’t shine
Whilst the testicles don’t necessarily like excessive heat, they do respond positively to direct ultraviolet light via natural sunlight and there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence in favour of this hack. Endocrinologists studied this specifically in the late 30’s and reported 200% increases in testosterone production in their test subjects (no pun intended).
5. Upgrade your sleep
Perhaps the most important and underrated one of all, as this SuperFeast Sleep article bangs home. All major hormones are synthesised when we sleep and if you ain’t sleepin, you ain’t makin them! Simple as that. Ditch the phone, the WiFi, the late night Netflix and dial everything down in line with the sun setting rather than keeping lights on after dark. This helps kick off that serotonin – to - melatonin cycle. A lavender oil diffuser is always a good addition, along with earlier and lighter dinners and a good pair of blue light blockers worn from 7pm onward!
This special article was written by our fave Naturopath, Dan Sipple, you can reach out to work with him in clinic, or online: