Men’s testosterone levels appear to be dropping over the last few decades. “The Baltimore Longitudinal Aging Study examined per 40 years of data and found that samples taken from men in 1965-1971 had 40% higher testosterone levels than samples collected from men in 1985-1995. Testosterone levels were found to have declined at about 1.2% per year, approximately 17% lower in American men from 1987 compared to 2004. This data is concerning for a variety of reasons including parallel drop in fertility rates that accompanies decreased testosterone levels.” (“The Element”, article titled “The Testosterone Decline” by Dr. Tina Beaudoin, ND.)
Is the solution for low testosterone always testosterone supplementation, and does this approach even work?
The answer is no. Testosterone therapy is not the only solution to low testosterone levels. Although testosterone therapies or supplementation can help males and females with low testosterone levels, there are other effective solutions that can fundamentally address the underlying causes of low testosterone instead of offering a band-aid approach. Testosterone prescriptions come in various forms including skin patches, gels, orally disintegrating tablets or injections. There are many clinics that specialize in “low T” (or low testosterone) that have turned this condition into a money-making business, a “fast-growing empire of clinics that’s generating about $4 million per month in revenue throughout seven states”, according to Forbes. They offer testosterone therapy to any man (even if younger) with the slightest sign or symptom pointing to a possible reduction in testosterone levels. These men become a victim of a business as opposed to a patient under their doctor’s care.
It’s noteworthy that testosterone therapies (regardless of the type) are only palliative in nature, and not curative. In other words they do not correct the root causes of the problem of low testosterone. In all these cases, based on my observation, the patient needs to stay on testosterone therapy indefinitely. And, sometimes the patient requires higher and higher doses of testosterone as time goes on in order to achieve the same results.
Low testosterone levels in men have been associated with various signs and symptoms on physical, mental, as well as emotional levels. Physical signs and symptoms may include erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, reduced muscle mass and strength and fatigue. Mental signs and symptoms may include reduced libido (lowered sex drive) and poor cognition. And, finally, emotional signs and symptoms may include agitation, sadness, and hopelessness. It’s noteworthy that a male can have any combination of the above signs and symptoms with or without low blood testosterone levels. For example a male may have poor libido but yet have healthy blood testosterone levels or he may have poor erections despite normal testosterone levels. Each patient is unique and, as such, should be treated differently.
In this blog I will cover the approach I take in treating most of my patients with low blood testosterone levels. I will first discuss the low T (testosterone) problem in men, and then cover the low T problem in women. Additionally I will cover other related issues such as erectile dysfunction in men and poor libido in both genders regardless of their blood testosterone levels.
In short, I treat my male patients with reduced testosterone levels by simply helping them improve their diet, digestion, and “energetic” balance. I have treated numerous men with low testosterone levels. In my experience, health wise, most of these men have one main commonality: poor diet and weak digestion, with or without the presence of digestive symptoms (such as maldigestion, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain or discomfort, nausea, vomiting, etc.) Specifically, these men all appear to have poor liver function, which is the root cause of their digestive weakness. Although some of these men may have abnormal liver function test results, indicating liver weakness or potentially even liver disease, what is interesting is that most of these men have normal liver function test results. You might wonder how that is possible. The answer is that a blood liver test evaluates only a few liver parameters (i.e. mainly elevated liver enzymes and/or abnormal bilirubin levels) which are often found to be normal despite the fact that in reality we can suffer from poor liver function anyways. Blood test results for the liver appear to be abnormal only if the liver is stricken with a diagnosable disease such as hepatitis. And most people’s liver, be it in people with low testosterone or in people with other health conditions, functions poorly and it is not necessarily “diseased”. Over years of practice I have come to learn that men with low testosterone levels appear to benefit greatly from naturopathic liver support using various natural supplements that are designed to improve liver function. The specific liver supplement(s) should be selected by an experienced natural health care practitioner to match the patient’s signs and symptoms. It’s obvious that any beverages or foods that are difficult for the liver to process could negatively impact such men’s testosterone levels. These foods include alcohol, caffeine, and junk food of any kind. My recommendation is that patients refrain from such unhealthy drinks and food items until their low testosterone problem is effectively treated at which time they may be able to start enjoying such drinks/foods in moderation.
It was enlightening for me to recently read an article titled “The Testosterone Decline” by Dr. Tina Beaudoin, ND, in The Elements that correlated mens’ low testosterone problem with environmental toxins. In this article, I finally came across a possible scientific explanation behind what I have empirically come to learn over years of successfully treating numerous men with low testosterone levels. Reading this article suggests to me the possible rational correlation between why a naturopathic liver “cleanse” can help elevate testosterone levels in men with a low T problem: A liver cleanse pushes out various toxins from the liver into the intestines from where the toxins come out via the stools. In this way, I believe the very toxins that appear to cause a decline in testosterone levels must be coming out of the body via the stools, thereby relieving males of the burden of toxins on their testosterone levels.
In the above article, Dr. Beaudoin points out that “exposure to toxins at any point in the lifespan, including when they are in utero as well as during prepubescent and pubescent years, can have a significant impact on their ability to make testosterone later in life – during their reproductive years and beyond.” Dr. Beaudoin goes on to say that “there are numerous commonplace environmental exposures that contribute to the decline of testosterone… One study that followed children from their first trimester in utero until 14 years of age found that as urinary levels of phthalates and BPA increased, testosterone levels decreased. The NHANES study found that higher phthalates levels were associated with both a 24-34% drop in testosterone among boys and similar declines in males 40-60 years old. Another study found that increased phthalate body burden was associated with a 20% reduction in male fertility, which is directly tied to testosterone production.” According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), “endocrine (or hormone) disruptors like BPA and phthalates lurk in everything from cleaning products to fragrances.” These chemicals are called “everywhere chemicals” because they are so common, and are used in making countless plastic products that we may come across daily.
In conclusion of the above article, Dr. Beaudoin expresses that “reducing exposure to phthalates and BPA is a great way to reduce toxic body burden and help restore healthy testosterone levels. First, try to limit your overall exposure to plastics (food containers, cans, food, packaging, etc.). Read labels and avoid all personal care products (cologne, shaving creams, shampoo, etc.) with phthalates. Whether at the grocery store or gardening store, try to reduce pesticide exposure by shopping organically and forgoing the lawn pesticides. These are just a few of the many ways to reduce your exposures.”
Another subject that I discuss with my patients with low testosterone levels is the imbalance in their energetic system and how such imbalances can be effectively corrected. Homeopathy as well as Chinese medicine have both been used to correct energetic (or what in Asian medicine is referred to as Qi or Chi) imbalances for hundreds to thousands of years. Based on all of a person’s attributes, traits, characteristics, signs and symptoms (on all levels including the physical, mental as well as emotional), I prescribe homeopathic remedies to match what we call the patient’s “constitution” or makeup. Notice that in homeopathy we take into consideration the patients’ emotional/behavioral traits, and not just their physical symptoms. Upon taking their constitutional homeopathic remedy, a few pills to be taken orally, patients often report various positive changes in their energy, mood, sleep, and overall physical as well as mental/emotional health, leading directly as well as indirectly to elevation in testosterone levels. The changes typically occur within hours to a few days. Selecting the correct constitutional homeopathic remedy for each patient requires a professional homeopath. In my experience, Google search engines are hardly ever useful to patients in their search for their own constitutional makeup since homeopathy is as much a science as it is art.
In my experience, the most common homeopathic constitutions that appear to have low testosterone levels are the constitutions Lycopodium and Nux vomica. Interestingly, these two homeopathic constitutional types (i.e. individuals with these two constitutions or body types) are known to have rather significant poor liver function despite how normal their blood liver function test results may be regardless of the gender. Since, as stated in the above paragraphs, men with low testosterone levels appear to have poor liver function, it should not be of any surprise to the reader that the top two homeopathic constitutional types that, at least in my experience, have low testosterone levels are the two that are known to have poor liver function. The correlation between the above homeopathic constitutions and low testosterone levels is one that I have found to be true among men, not women. In other words, I have seen women with low testosterone levels with various homeopathic constitutions, not just Lycopodium or Nux vomica.
Men whose homeopathic constitution or makeup is Nux vomica have an aggressive and competitive nature and typically have a deep masculine voice. Note that the women with this constitution are also aggressive and competitive. One wouldn’t suspect men with these attributes to have low testosterone levels, but ironically they do!
Regardless of a person’s homeopathic constitution or makeup, taking the appropriate remedy that matches his/her constitution helps elevate his/her overall health, leading to healthy testosterone levels (in both men and women), better libido (in both men and women), and healthier erections in men. Often the improvements are rather immediate with homeopathic remedies. I have seen many cases where the patient’s fatigue and libido have improved within hours to days even if the testosterone levels take much longer to get elevated.
Most of my male patients with the chief complaint of low blood testosterone levels are middle-aged or older, however sometimes I see men in their 20s or 30s that also suffer from low testosterone levels and its accompanying signs and symptoms. Men who have been told they have low testosterone levels are often depressed, thinking that the decline in their testosterone levels is a natural part of aging. Although some decline due to aging is normal, I would like to assert that a significant decline is definitely not normal. I have been able to help men of all ages, including many older men, with low testosterone levels using my above approach. I remember in one case, my patient who was above 65 years of age returned after a few weeks saying that his wife was not too happy about his improvements and that she couldn’t keep up with his youthful energy. Coincidentally, this man’s testosterone levels were close to 150–200 (normal range being 270-1000 ng/dL in men) after numerous months of testosterone supplementation prior to seeing me. After our initial visit, he decided to stop using testosterone supplementation, and decided to follow my recommendations which resulted in an increase in his testosterone levels to nearly 400 in a few months. (It’s noteworthy that many of my female patients with low testosterone levels have values below 10, normal being 15-70 ng/dL.)
Now I would like to discuss the subject of how men can have various male problems such as poor libido and/or erectile dysfunction (otherwise known as ED) without necessarily having low blood testosterone levels:
In the case of poor libido in men, I find that such men always have emotional imbalances which can be corrected rather easily using techniques such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which is an acupressure-based therapy. Since most males often have a healthy libido, I find that correcting their problem of poor libido alone (without low testosterone levels) is rather easy. I find that usually a 30 minute EFT session can often correct the poor libido problem in a male once and for all. There are also times when men may experience poor libido due to other factors such as fatigue and other health issues. A physically healthy man without any emotional challenges should have a healthy level of libido. Therefore, if you are a man who suffers from poor libido, you should definitely get yourself checked out by a licensed health care practitioner.
ED or Erectile dysfunction can occur in males with low or even normal testosterone levels. In males with low blood testosterone levels and ED, I have found that if they follow the therapies outlined above (i.e. improve their diet and digestion along with taking their constitutional homeopathic remedy), their ED may often be effectively corrected. In males, however, with normal testosterone levels and ED, in addition to following all the steps above, I recommend supplementation with L-arginine, an amino acid that supports heart health, nitric oxide production, and optimal blood flow. NO (or nitric oxide) acts as a vasodilator in the process of penile erection. L-arginine supplementation works rather effectively for ED.
Note that Viagra, the popular pharmaceutical drug for ED, works on the Nitric oxide chemistry in a man’s body, it reduces what is known as its “uptake”. Viagra can have numerous dangerous side effects. Taking L-arginine appears to be much safer and also effective. You must be under the care of a physician (MD or ND) if you are going to try using Nitric oxide for helping your ED since Nitric oxide can affect the diameter of all blood vessels in the body, not just the ones in the penis. And, as such, even Nitric oxide can have side effects.
Low testosterone in women has similar, yet different, signs and symptoms from men. The most common signs and symptoms include fatigue, poor libido, mood swings and poor mood, weight gain, and hair loss. Supplementation with testosterone is not an ultimate solution for women either. This practice has become popular as a treatment for poor libido among naturally minded women over the last decade or two. Frankly, I find that many of my new female patients who come in with a chief complaint of poor libido, who have been on testosterone supplementation for a number of months to years, still continue to suffer from poor libido. It appears to help them initially for a few months and then nothing. Helping such patients involves a similar approach as what I have outlined above for men with low testosterone levels (by improving their diet and digestion and taking the correct constitutional homeopathic remedy to balance their energetic system). It’s typically much more challenging to treat poor libido in women versus in men. However women’s libido can be enhanced effectively by making positive changes in their lifestyle and diet and by consuming various appropriate nutrients, herbs, and homeopathic remedies.
It’s noteworthy that, similar to men, women can have the above signs and symptoms commonly associated with low T even if they have healthy blood testosterone levels. For example, poor libido in women does not necessarily translate to low testosterone levels. In fact, in my experience, poor libido in women is often associated with low estrogen levels. I find that many of my female patients who come in complaining of poor libido feel better rather effectively and quickly with the aid of BHRT (bio-identical hormone replacement therapy), specifically bio-identical estrogen and progesterone. And, yes, using natural bio-identical estrogen and progesterone is also a band-aid, even though they are natural. However I believe taking natural estrogen and progesterone is much safer than taking natural testosterone. Ultimately the real solution is to address the underlying causes of the problem instead of taking hormones. The exception being when a woman is missing her ovaries. And, even in this instance, a woman does not necessarily have to take hormones.
Naturopathic doctors have extensive training in prescribing BHRT. Unfortunately, at this time, few conventional medical practitioners prescribe BHRT, as they still appear to favor the old-fashioned HRT (hormone replacement therapy) despite the various health hazards they are known to cause. Note that both HRT (hormone replacement therapy) as well as BHRT (bio-identical hormone replacement therapy) are prescription items. (You can refer to my blog on BHRT for more information on the subject.)
Note that women’s libido can actually be reduced by chronic use of HRT (hormone replacement therapy), be it birth control pills or creams, or other unnatural hormonal interventions such as hormonal IUDs, none of which contain hormones that are identical to women’s own natural hormones. Unfortunately the reduction in libido due to chronic HRT use is sometimes irreversible. If you are using such therapies, discuss the subject with your naturopathic physician.
Finally, compared to men, women’s libido can be much more significantly impacted by emotional issues with their significant other. Therefore, a healthy relationship with her significant other is sometimes the key in helping a woman with her poor libido.
Please be advised that there are numerous diseases and conditions that may be involved in the causation of any of the problems discussed in this blog. Therefore, if you are a man or a woman who suffers from any of the above conditions, please consult with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.