(NaturalNews) Men who have taken the time to get their hormone levels in balance never have to consider popping a Viagra. Even men who still produce plenty of testosterone can find themselves in need of hormone balancing when things start to go wrong in the bedroom. This is because processes are at work that prevent testosterone from doing the job it was meant to do. When these processes are corrected, most men can again perform as they did in their primes.
Conversion of testosterone to estrogen siphons virility and leaves men vulnerable
As men leave their 30s behind, they often find their testosterone is being converted to estrogen, in a process known as aromatization. As the aromatase enzyme steals their testosterone, many men find themselves developing characteristics of low testosterone levels. These include decreased libido and inability to perform sexually, fatigue, lack of motivation, poor concentration, depression, decreased muscle mass, and increased body fat. Breasts may enlarge as extra estrogen begins to promote female body characteristics.
In a recent study, researchers found that low testosterone levels are associated with higher risk of death from all causes. One of the main causes is the increase in heart attacks seen in men who have entered middle age. The heart is the most important muscle in the body, and its health is in jeopardy as aromatase drives the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, thereby reducing all muscle mass. As muscle mass is lost, men may try to regain it with exercise, putting more stress on their weakened hearts.
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that naturally promotes muscle growth. Estrogen, on the other hand, is catabolic, and promotes the breakdown of muscle tissue. In order to maintain muscle mass throughout the body, it is essential to normalize the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This becomes a vicious circle. Estrogen increases body fat, and body fat increases production of aromtase leading to the production of more estrogen. To put and end to the expanding waistline and the health problems that go with it, the conversion of testosterone to estrogen must be returned to the rate men had when they were young and virile.
Only free testosterone is bioactive
In order for testosterone to be active in the body it must exist in a free, unbound state. The binding of testosterone to a glycoprotein known as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) reduces the amount of active testosterone. When testosterone is bound, it is still there in the body, but it is handcuffed to SHBG and is unable to produce any benefits. Useless, bound testosterone cannot prevent heart attack, aid in sexual function, build muscle, create red cell mass, or contribute to bone density. When testosterone has lost its ability to be bioactive, many of the complaints of older women become the complaints of older men, such as memory loss and osteoporosis.
Chrysin inhibits the conversion of testosterone to estrogen
Chrysin is a bioflavonoid from Passifllora incarnate, commonly called the passionflower. It inhibits the aromatase process in men just like it does in women. Body builders have a history of using chrysin as a testosterone booster, since inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to estrogen leaves more testosterone to power muscle building. Body builder use of chrysin swung into high gear in 1999 when a study found that bioavailability of chyrsin could be boosted by the addition of an extract from black pepper called piperine. Researchers have found that when chrysin is combined with piperine, also known as bioperine, men see reductions in serum estrogen levels and increases in total and free testosterone in as little as 30 days.
In a study at the University of Minnesota, published in 1993, chrysin and several other bioflavonoids were compared to an aromatase inhibiting drug used to treat hormone sensitive cancers. Chyrsin was found to be the most effective of all the compounds tested at inhibiting aromatase in human fat cell cultures, and was declared to be equal in potency to the drug. Follow-up studies have identified specific mechanisms by which chrysin inhibits aromatase in human cells.
Another property of chrysin that can help out in the bedroom is its ability to reduce anxiety and stress. Performance anxiety that can be spawned during an inadequate experience tends to snowball with each subsequent encounter until it can be a significant negative. Researchers in Argentina injected mice with diazepam (Valium), chyrsin, or a placebo to determine the effects of these compounds on anxiety and performance levels. Chrysin was found to lower anxiety on a par with diazepam, but without the side effects of motor impairment and sedation.
Chrysin is also a potent antioxidant with vitamin-like effects in the body. It has an anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the COX-2 and 5-lipoxygenase enzymes. Substances that inhibit inflammation may protect against the diverse array of diseases that characterize the aging process.
There is more to the passionflower than chrysin
Another bioflavonoid, benzoflavone moiety (BZF), has been recently isolated from the passionflower. Most of the research on BZF has been conducted at the University of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Panjab University in India. In 2002, scientists there studied the potential usefulness of chrysin and BZF against the effects of aging on male sexuality in older rats for a period of 30 days. After treatment, there was a significant improvement in overall sexual functions in the rats given the bioflavonoids, compared to control rats.
Rats receiving chrysin (1 mg/kg) and BZG (10 mg/kg) exhibited increased libido when they were allowed to interact with ready female rats. According to these researchers, BZF was even more potent than chrysin as an anti-aromatase agent and exhibited better effects on the sexual systems of the rats. They concluded that bioflavonoids from the passionflower had great potential against the physiological and biochemical effects of aging. (Journal of Medicinal Food, May, 2002)
In another study, decreased libido, fertility and mating efficiency in healthy male rats was studied. Rats were given either ethanol, nicotine, or a combination of the two, which are known to be depressants of libido, fertility and sperm count. Some of the rats were also given 10 mg/kg of BZF concurrently for 30 days.
At the end of the treatments, it was observed that the rats receiving only ethanol, nicotine, or the combination had virtually no libido as measured by mounting behavior. Their sperm counts had declined, and there was no mating efficiency or fertility when paired with ready female rats. However, the rats which were given BZF along with the libido depressants exhibited significant libido-oriented mounting behavior, significantly increased sperm count, and increased fertilization potential.
Finally, the rats that did not have BZF were divided again and given the identical dose of BZF for 7 days. This treatment confirmed that BZF speeds up the restoration of sexuality, fertility and vigor upon the cessation of ethanol and nicotine consumption. (Life Science, November 15, 2002)
In 2003, the Panjab group treated healthy male rats with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound found in hemp plants. Half of the rats were then treated with BZF over a period of 30 days. The THC rats had a significant loss of libido, decreased sperm count, and reduced number of impregnated female rats. Those treated with BZF were observed to be significantly protected against the chronic THC induced decrease in libido, mating performance, and fertility during the experimental period. Upon discontinuation of the THC treatment, the rats that had received only THC were treated with BZF for seven days following which their libido, sperm count and sexual fertility was completely restored. (British Journal of Pharmacology, January, 2003)
Also in 2003, this group evaluated an extract of leaves from the passionflower on mice by observing their mounting behavior. Male mice given the extract exhibited significant sexually stimulated behavior at all administered doses (75, 100, 150 mg/kg). The highest activity was observed with the 100 mg/kg dose when the mountings were calculated about 95 minutes after administration of the extracts. (Phytotherapy Resources, April, 2003.
The Panjab team reported that passionflower is used in several parts of the world as a traditional medicine for the management of anxiety, insomnia and epilepsy and as a morphine addition. In their work, BZF has exhibited significantly encouraging results in the tolerance and dependence on several addiction-prone psychotropic drugs, including morphine, nicotine, ethanol, diazepam (Valium) and THC. (Addiction Biology, December, 2003)
Nettle root liberates bound testosterone
Since testosterone bound by SHBG is no longer available to cell receptor sites, it fails to induce libido. It has lost its biological activity and is no longer free to perform the functions of testosterone in the body. As men enter their 40s, the capacity of SHBG to bind testosterone increases dramatically by an average of 40% and coincides with age-associated loss of libido. Studies have shown that declining sexual interest and performance that is associated with age is not necessarily due to the amount of testosterone produced, but to what happens to it after it is produced. There are older men who have received testosterone replacement and who have failed to gain the anticipated benefits. This is because their administered testosterone is being quickly bound by SHBG.
According to data published by the Life Extension Foundation, European researchers have identified constituents of nettle root that bind to SHBG in place of testosterone, leaving testosterone to remain in the body in its free state. The authors of one of the studies stated that these constituents of nettle root "may influence the blood level of free, i.e. active steroid hormones by displacing them from the SHBG binding site."
Nettle root and chrysin combined with piperine were found to be safe as well as effective in studies sponsored by the Life Extension Foundation.
Several studies have shown that high-intensity exercise done on a regular basis keeps testosterone at optimal levels. One study examined how the effects of heavy resistance training in both young and older men affected their testosterone levels. Both groups were found to have a statistically significant increase in testosterone levels after exercise. Another study revealed that strength training in middle-aged men increased free testosterone levels.
Getting plenty of omega 3 fats helps keep SHBG in check
In a study done in Japan, essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, found in high concentrations in cold water fish and fish oil products, affected SHBG levels in men aged 43 to 88 years of age. After controlling for variables, the researchers concluded that both EPA and DHA decreased levels of SHBG in middle-aged and older men. EPA and DHA are available in vegetarian form from high quality, organic flax oil that can be purchased from the refrigerated case in health food stores. The alpha linolenic acid that naturally occurs in flax oil can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body.
Zinc is essential for optimal production of testosterone
Zinc is the man's mineral. It is involved in almost every aspect of male reproduction, including testosterone metabolism, sperm formation, and sperm motility. Low levels of zinc have been linked to prostate enlargement. Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of zinc in treating low testosterone levels. In an older study, dietary zinc intake was restricted for 24 to 40 weeks in male volunteers with a mean age of 57 years. Low sperm count resulted in all subjects, but was reversed after zinc supplementation of physiologic amounts. However, 6 to 12 months was needed to return sperm count to normal following deprivation of zinc. Leydig cells in the testes, believed to be involved in the production of androgens, were also reduced by zinc deprivation.
Men can get their mojo back naturally
Viagra may temporarily take care of the bedroom blues, but it can't take care of the health deterioration that produced them. Inability to perform sexually is a symptom of serious underlying health issues that need to be addressed before heart attack or degenerative disease sets in.
Men with difficulties performing sexually may have low levels of testosterone and need bioidentical testosterone replacement. However, many men with adequate testosterone levels also need help. Whether testosterone is produced naturally in the body or is replaced with bioidenticals, what happens to that testosterone in the body needs to be addressed before good overall health and sexual performance can be restored.
Optimal hormone balance can't be obtained by swallowing a pill. It takes a little bit of work. A visit to a doctor who specializes in integrative or anti-aging medicine can tell you where you stand. Through simple blood or saliva testing, the levels of natural testosterone in the body and how that testosterone is being processed can be quickly revealed. Once testing is done, men know exactly what must be done to bring themselves into optimal hormone balance.
For those preferring the do-it-yourself approach, there are products on the market that combine chrysin, piperine, nettle root and zinc. Some have added other ingredients. Each of these compounds is also available separately. When bought separately, there is the added benefit of being able to adjust the amounts of each and fine-tune the regimen to what works best for you. BZF is not sold as an isolated compound. Since both crysin and BZF have shown potent aromatse inhibiting action, buying supplements of passionflower may be the better choice. With passionflower, the full range of bioflavonoid benefits is available.
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.