June is Men’s Health month, a time to highlight the need for more awareness of men’s health issues. Given that statistically men usually have shorter life expectancies and poorer overall health when compared to women, this is not just a courtesy tip. The reasons for these poorer health outcomes may be a combination of genetic and social influences. Genetically, men are more prone to heart disease than women. In addition, social constructs around masculinity may contribute to the fact that men are much less likely than women to look after their health and see physicians.
According to the CDC the two most common causes of death for men are heart disease and cancer. June is a time to talk about these looming killers and encourage health screenings that can help promote longer lives for men, but it is also a time to consider quality of life.
‘Healthy aging’ is a buzz phrase often focused on women, but men you can also retain your energy and strength (and good looks!) of your youth once you’ve got the wisdom to go with it. One of the main threats to quality of life for aging men is testosterone decline. Testosterone is a hormone that maintains sex drive, sperm production, body hair, muscle and bone. While not as dramatic as women’s plunging hormones in menopause, all men go through a period of many years known as andropause, marked by a gradual decline in testosterone. Generally this plays out as about a 1% decrease a year after the age of 40. For many men, this is a normal transition that comes without noticeable symptoms. And many continue to have testosterone levels within normal ranges. But for some men, there are accompanying symptoms or further decline in levels that drop them below normal range. About 10-25% of men experience what has been called: “Aging Male Syndrome” and this can be a serious threat to their quality of life. The struggle can include weight gain, insomnia, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, sweats and hot flashes, trouble concentrating, irritability, depression, increased urination, and bone, hair and muscle loss.
The western approach to this problem, in addition to encouraging a healthy lifestyle and regular health screenings, offers drug therapy in the form of hormone replacement for men with severe symptoms. Testosterone therapy has shown some benefits for some, but for others, these benefits are not always clear. And the risks are concerning, as hormone therapy can stimulate the growth of metastatic prostate or breast cancer. It may also increase formation of clots and risk of heart attack or stroke.
When Chinese Medicine talks about aging, the focus is on the kidneys. Kidney energy (qi) and essence governs the life cycles of human development. Testosterone, in general, is thought of as a manifestation of Kidney Yang (the hot, active aspect of kidney qi) As this declines, it is associated with low back pain, cold limbs, lower libido, paling complexion and weakness.
The TCM approach is therefore to boost kidney yang. This is mainly done through acupuncture and Chinese herbs. One herb used to boost the kidney yang is called: yin yang huo, commonly known as horny goat weed. This and other individual herbs are known for strengthening kidney yang, but it is more likely that when you come to our Edina acupuncture clinic your practitioner will prescribe a multi-herb formula to address the issue from a few angles. Depending on your individual pattern, a formula is prescribed to supplement yang and boost the kidneys, while restoring balance in your system.
Getting in for regular treatments proves very beneficial for men looking to maintain healthy testosterone levels. Our eight-week protocol of acupuncture and Chinese herbs for aging men (known for tonifying the kidney yang energy), significantly increases total and free testosterone. The best part? Our acupuncture hormone boost comes without the unwanted side effects.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are some of the best ‘healthy aging’ tools available for both men and women! Improve your quantity and quality of life by calling to 952-831-8080 to schedule your next appointment! Or go to our contact page now.