Natural Health News

Naturopathic Health Care

Dr. Jon Dunn, Licensed Naturopathic Doctor
January  2008
Having addressed menopausal concerns in my November 2007 newsletter it seems appropriate to take a look at the other side of this equation: male menopause, or to use a more accurate term: andropause.  Just as the hormonal drop associated with menopause can cause mild to severe symptoms in women, so too with men.  What makes andropause particularly problematic is that most men don’t know about it and most physicians lack information on the subject.
Men experience a drop in hormones from age 35-65 with the majority of symptoms showing in the 40-55 year olds with a 50% drop in testosterone.  Following is a check list of andropause symptoms resulting from testosterone deficiency.

Andropause Symptoms
Decreased sex drive and or ability to achieve/                      maintain an erection
Impaired memory and concentration
Hot flushes
Decrease in physical agility, flexibility, stamina and             muscle mass
Male Menopause
Lack of energy
Mood changes and or change in attitude: depression, mood swings, irritability
Increase in body fat especially around the middle
Prostate problems

Metabolic changes showing on blood work include:
Low HDL levels and subsequent increase of cardiovascular diseases
Elevated triglycerides
Low saliva testosterone and progesterone levels with actual or relative progesterone excess
Increased insulin and blood sugar problems as seen with metabolic syndrome 
         (see Diabetic Syndrome January 2007 Newsletter)

All men will experience age related hormonal decline.  Stress significantly impacts the degree of andropausal symptoms during this transitional period of life.  Stress comes in many forms including poor diet, heavy metal exposure, lack of exercise, poor sleep, coffee and alcohol excesses and air pollution.  Stress compromises adrenal and thyroid health which results in even lower levels of testosterone with a worsening of symptoms.

The testosterone drop in men of the 21st century is surpassing that of previous generations due to the amazing world of synthetic compounds.  Here’s an example which echoes the subject of plastics in my December 2007 Newsletter.  Phthalates are chemicals found in a variety of everyday products such as soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, medications, paint and plastic tubing.  Tests indicate that metabolites of phthalates exist in more than 75 percent of the U.S. population.  Phthalates have been implicated in decreased function and production of testosterone and sperm while increasing the tendency toward insulin resistance (see Diabetic Syndrome Newsletter) and abdominal obesity.
An increase in abdominal fat translates to an increase in circulating estrogen which is a concern.  Elevated estrogen has a dampening effect on testosterone production, and appears to play a significant role in prostate enlargement, inflammation and cancer.  Others factors which promote excess estrogen include: alcohol abuse, liver problems, drug abuse (amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine), zinc deficiency,  estrogen laced food such as commercial meat, and many commercial pharmaceutical drugs such as: over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin, antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-depressants, antacids and many blood pressure medications.

It is also important to remember that progesterone is not just a women’s hormone.   In men a deficiency of progesterone is a frequent cause of prostate problems aggravated by excess estrogen levels.

Proper testing to include baseline saliva testosterone levels can help identify at risk individuals before the symptoms become pronounced.  Early detection allows for early naturopathic intervention.  Proper testing to assist in making an accurate diagnosis is essential when it comes to andropause.  

Here’s an example of the importance of testing. Men aren’t known for their willingness to seek health care.  When a mood disorder such as depression surfaces they will likely receive antidepressant pharmaceuticals if consulting a conventional medical doctor.  The prescribing of pharmaceutical antidepressants when the problem is low testosterone will generally make the depression worse.   Proper testing helps to avoid this dilemma.

Andropause Therapy
Over the counter treatment considerations to compliment healthy lifestyle habits.

Zinc: About 30 mg daily for prostate health.  Best when in conjunction with a good quality multiple vitamin and mineral formula.
Arginine: About 500 mg 1-2 times daily for healthy circulation and reproductive health.  Caution if you have herpes: arginine supplementation may cause herpes outbreak. 
Maca:  South American herb to assist in the health and function of hypothalamus and pituitary which regulate all other hormone secreting glands.
Indole: Found in broccoli and helps maintain healthy estrogen metabolites in the body.
Ashwagandha: Indian adaptogenic herb which supports adrenal and reproductive function.

CautionDHEA supplementation will often transform into estrogen in men whereas it will transform more into testosterone in women.

Naturopathic Physician Assistance
Appropriate hormonal evaluation: saliva hormone testing to evaluate active hormonal status of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. Standard blood testing to rule-out other possible andropausal causes of concern such as blood sugar or thyroid problems is also advised.
Bio-identical testosterone replacement therapy if indicated by symptoms and testing.
Bio-identical progesterone replacement therapy if indicated by symptoms and testing.
Testogain:  Herbal mix to replenish diminishing testosterone production available only through physicians.
In summary it is important to remember the role that lifestyle factors play in reducing the symptoms of andropause, and to enlist appropriate safe, effective, non-toxic natural therapies.  Testing is essential to guide the physician when it comes to managing hormonal related issues and to monitor for excesses and deficiencies as a person ages.

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s health newsletter.  Comments are always welcome.

In Health,
Jon Dunn, ND