Natural Aphrodisiacs: Part Two
Natural Aphrodisiacs: Part Two
Prostate and Testosterone
Now, let’s take a closer look at the potential of testosterone-boosting supplements to cause prostate problems. Swelling of the prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is caused by “dihydrotestosterone” (DHT), a byproduct of testosterone also linked to male pattern baldness. Thus, if we indiscriminately pump up our testosterone we run the risk of aggravating existing prostate conditions and/or hair loss problems. There are two ways around this.
The first option is to only use a testosterone booster as needed. This works for people who feel immediate effects from them. The effects of testosterone are fairly pronounced: you get aroused, and if you get too much you get aggressive (way too much is actually linked to criminal behavior). Nonetheless, you then only take the product prior to sexual activity (about an hour), or prior to sports activities (studies have shown that winners inevitably have higher testosterone level than the losers).
If there are no dramatic effects from the product, you can then use it daily for a maximum of two weeks, then take at least a week off. It takes about this amount of time of consistent testosterone elevation before the body starts breaking it down into byproducts such as DHT and estrogen. This approach should prime the pump, so to speak, and lead to a gradual increase in energy levels and sexual interest.
The other option, and a safer way to play with testosterone if you have an existing prostate condition, and/or hair loss issues, is to stick with herbs that don’t directly elevate testosterone but instead liberate it from the process of breaking down. This frees up your own testosterone, both elevating it in the blood and protecting against those conditions caused by its breakdown. Herbs that do this may not be as dramatic as the aforementioned herbs, but they can safely be taken over an extended period of time. One will also find a greater effect by using formulas, which stack a combination of these gentle herbal testosterone boosters. These include, as we saw above, black seed and tribulus, as well as nettle root, pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto, and the minerals boron and zinc (both found in our Mineral Mix product).
The stronger testosterone boosting herbs come with another caveat. Generally, it is as we age that such substances become necessary: young men tend to have more than enough testosterone. But as we age, we become more heated and dry (based on Chinese medicine principles), and many of these herbs are themselves heating and drying. No better example of this exists than Korean Red Ginseng, which is often sold as a substance to improve male virility and sexual stamina. While the research confirming this is limited (Source), the use of ginseng is widespread. The danger is that red ginseng is very heating to the system, and could potentially raise blood pressure.
Thus, for example, if a Chinese herbalist put horny goat weed (heating) into a formula, he would also add North American Ginseng or royal jelly, both of which are cooling herbs. When western herbalists, of limited training, attempt to use these herbs they often do not do the research to find out how to properly balance these heating and cooling tendencies.
Another potential problem comes from ignoring what the body is trying to tell us when it no longer has the energy for erection. Again, based on the principles of Chinese medicine, it is believed that your storehouse of sexual vitality, known as kidney essence, is so depleted that your general health cannot afford the expenditure that sex and ejaculation requires. When we force the body to do so with drugs like Viagra, we are creating the potential for serious health issues in the future, as this kidney essence is also vital to longevity and good health. In this case, you are essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul.
At the very least, when we use natural substances in an attempt to increase our testosterone levels or to reverse erectile dysfunction, the risks are minor, and the side effects are usually beneficial.
Balancing the Hormones
The most gentle way of normalizing the sex hormones, and thus the sex drive, for both men and women, is to use substances that balance the whole hormonal system, instead of just focusing on this one narrow area.
Maca root is one such agent that is safe enough for anyone to use, and can balance hormones even for younger people. This South American herb (actually a tuber) is used at a teaspoon daily of the gelatinized product (that which has had the starch removed), or a tablespoon of the unprocessed powder, though more can be safely taken. It may take a few weeks to be noticeable, but may also be used on a fairly consistent basis.
As noted earlier, maca had no scientific evidence that it raised testosterone levels, however it has been used traditionally for centuries in South America for improving vitality and fertility.
Maca (Lepidium peruvianum)
“Andean maca has been considered a libido and fertility-boosting root for hundreds of years. These claims have been supported by animal research, but few randomized controlled trials exist in humans on this topic. This study was designed to explore fertility-boosting effects maca may have in men with reduced semen quality. Participants supplementing maca experienced significantly improved sperm quantity.” (Source)
Some of the herbs mentioned above with regards to raising testosterone (such as Korean Red Ginseng), may not do so in limited studies, but when used faithfully such adaptogenic herbs can support and rebuild adrenal function. Which may explain how they can work for sexual malfunction.
Revitalizing and supporting the health of the adrenal glands is one of the safest ways to balance the sex hormones (AdrenalStart is very effective at doing this). Because the adrenal system is very close to the Chinese concept of kidney essence, healthy adrenal glands are very related to our general health and vitality. It is hard to have the desire or will for sexual activity if one is simply exhausted, whether male or female. And since we live in a culture of excess stress and stimulation, almost everyone has some degree of adrenal exhaustion.
Once we have rebuilt the adrenals our stress levels will decline, our body will naturally produce the energy we need when we need it and, the relevant point here, our dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels will rise. Since DHEA is a “mother hormone”, it serves as a building block for a number of sex hormones including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This is useful for all manner of hormonal imbalances, including those of a sexual nature, menopause, and andropause.
Vitamin D and Sex
I have elsewhere discussed vitamin D and testosterone, but for those unfamiliar with the concept I will include two reference points here: one for men and one for women.
“Compared to baseline values, a significant increase in total testosterone levels, bioactive testosterone, and free testosterone levels were observed in the vitamin D supplemented group (men).” (Source)
“Compared to women with normal vitamin D status, women with vitamin D deficiency were characterized by lower scores for three domains: sexual desire, orgasm and satisfaction, while women with vitamin D insufficiency were characterized by a lower score only for desire.” (Source)
Specialty products for raising testosterone and enhancing libido can be of much value for those experiencing erectile dysfunction or a low sex drive. However, for day to day maintenance of our sex hormones as we age, one cannot do better than using a combination of our, aforementioned, AdrenalStart (which has amazing feedback) along with either NutriPods for Men or NutriPods for Women. These gender-specific Pods contain extra herbs and nutrients designed to support healthy hormone balance.
NutriPods For Men contains extra minerals to protect the prostate, including boron (2mg), and more zinc (10mg) than NutriPods Original provides. As well, this formula includes the best-researched herbs that help to keep the prostate healthy and functioning well. These herbs, saw palmetto (160mg; 45% extract), nettle root (80mg; 4:1 extract), and avena sativa (extract of flowering oat; 100mg; 10:1 extract), have also been shown to keep testosterone levels balanced in the body.
NutriPods for Women includes herbs with a traditional and scientific history of use for general balancing of female hormones, including black cohosh, vitex (chasteberry) and dandelion root. This formula also contains evening primrose oil, which is beneficial for balancing female hormones, instead of fish oil.
Other elements that are provided in higher amounts in the NutriPods For Women include vitamin B6 (extra 20mg; aids in hormonal balance and prevents hormonally-related water retention), and the mineral boron (2mg) shown to be helpful for balancing estrogen levels and maintaining bone density.
Keeping our sex hormones at an ideal level has ramifications for all aspects of our life not just sexual performance. Our looks (hair, skin, and body weight), our general vitality, and our longevity, all depend immensely on having a proper balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, in our bodies.