What is “Low T” and What Does It Have to Do With Me?
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
Low T is shorthand for low Testosterone. Testosterone is a male sex hormone; women also produce some. It is produced by the testicles in men and the adrenal gland in women, and it is critical for normal male sexual development and function. Testosterone largely drives male sexual development, but also plays a critical role in maintenance of normal body composition and even impacts such things as brain chemistry.
There are many reasons why a man might have lower testosterone levels. There are various significant medical conditions that result in low testosterone such as chemotherapy, disease of the pituitary gland, damage to the testicles, infection, and autoimmune disease. These are all medical conditions and require specific and often dramatic treatment such as hormone replacement therapy.
What is less well understood, and far more common, is low testosterone related to aging, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and use of medications such as antidepressants and narcotic pain relievers. Low testosterone resulting from the above causes is extremely common. Think about it – how many men, as they age, suffer with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, and anxiety? The answer is, a lot.
The other thing that must be pointed out is that anything that raises stress levels will lower testosterone levels. Stress hormones and sex hormones use the same basic building blocks. Therefore, when stress is high, the body, for survival purposes, will shunt its resources toward the production of stress hormones at the expense of sex hormones such as testosterone. The same is true for women, by the way, in regard to estrogen and progesterone. Therefore, lack of sleep, stress associated with jobs and relationships, poor diet, and virtually anything that raises stress levels will lower testosterone production.
Some of the symptoms of testosterone deficiency include the following:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Loss of body hair
- Loss of lean muscle mass
- Poor memory and focus
If you, or someone you know, has a medical condition causing low testosterone, then it might be that medical, often drug, treatment is appropriate. For many others who suffer with the effects of testosterone deficiency, there are other more conservative and non-drug approaches to this common problem.
- Eat a diet based mainly on whole foods with a healthy balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Lay off the junk food and make sure that you are eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats.
- Minimize stress and address the things in your life that creates stress and you will reduce your stress hormone production with a consequent rise in your testosterone production.
- Exercise, and particularly weight training, are a very effective way of increasing testosterone levels. Such exercise stimulates muscle production, strengthens bones, and increases virility.
- Taking vitamin D and getting out in the sun on a regular basis has also been shown to increase testosterone levels. 3000 units of vitamin D3 per day has been shown to increase testosterone levels by as much as 25%.
- While we are on the subject of nutrition, I would also suggest a daily multiple vitamin with minerals. There are a host of vitamins such as vitamin B, A, C, and zinc that have been shown to boost testosterone production.
- Getting high quality, restful sleep is incredibly important for long-term health and, for the purposes of this discussion, boosting testosterone levels.
- There are natural testosterone boosters that have been shown to have a significant impact on male health. There is an herb called ashwagha that lowers stress hormones and increases testosterone. Ginger is another herbal aid for low T.
- Having a healthy sex life and avoiding excess alcohol, drug use and estrogen – like chemicals can also have a big impact on testosterone. Exposure to BPA, parabens and other chemicals found in some types of plastic have been shown to have estrogenic qualities that reduce testosterone production.
Even though aging is inevitable, there is much that can be done naturally to offset some of the negative consequences. I think most men would benefit by being more observant about the way they live, what they eat, whether and how they exercise, and how much stress they are undergoing every day. There is almost no one who cannot, physiologically, become healthier and more vital by applying even some of the principles above. Please let the doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness know if you need assistance in this somewhat sensitive area.
If you are struggling with the side-effects of low testosterone, or just suspect that you are, schedule a FREE consultation today!