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Irritable male syndrome

By Nadia McMorran

As men age, hormones such as testosterone start to naturally decrease This can have an affect physically, but importantly it can also affect mental capacity and mood. Men that have lowered testosterone levels due to age are more likely to suffer from fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, anger and lack of focus. Technically, this is known as andropause and has more recently become known by researchers as irritable male syndrome.

After a man reaches the age of 30, testosterone very gradually begins to decline. In fact, 40% of men over the age of 45 have testosterone levels considered below ‘normal’. It has been surmised by researchers on the subject, that this could result in a reduction of brain opioids that are necessary for mood elevation. One reason for this can be holding excess fat in the body, meaning that more testosterone is being converted to oestrogen, therefore lowering overall testosterone levels and resulting in the irritability and other symptoms mentioned earlier. Stress and elevated cortisol levels (the long term stress hormone) can also be a factor in lowered testosterone levels.

The danger with taking prescribed synthetic testosterone from your doctor is that it can have negative side effects, as with any hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It is important to restore balance, which is why a natural approach can be much more successful. Taking herbs and minerals that nourish the body means that testosterone levels can be stabilised and balanced safely, rather than increased to an unhealthy level, causing some of the rage or frustration that can be associated with high testosterone.

Treatments: Luckily, there are natural ways to increase testosterone levels which in turn can stabilise moods and can often work relatively quickly to make you feel like yourself again. When herbs are used to help with hormone balance, they do not specifically boost or contain these hormones – what they are in fact doing is modulating – they help the body to synthesise and balance, therefore increasing the hormones by making sure everything else is working as it’s supposed to.

Avoidance of unnecessary plastics: Plastics, particularly those that carry our foods or drinks contain various chemicals that can increase oestrogen in the body – this in turn reduces testosterone levels. Avoiding these plastics, particularly single use water bottles, cling film and making sure that foods are never heated in plastic (pop it in a bowl before microwaving rather than leaving it in your Tupperware!) can help to prevent some of these chemicals from having a negative hormonal impact.

Healthy diet and exercise: Obesity and lack of exercise is related to lowered testosterone levels, so maintaining a healthy diet with a reduction in sugar and alcohol can have a positive impact, as well as moving regularly to stimulate testosterone producing organs and metabolism.

Horny Goat Weed stimulates the cells responsible for production of testosterone and balances cortisol levels. Too much cortisol can have a negative effect on testosterone levels. It also increases blood flow to the pelvic area, where testosterone is created.

Damiana helps to inhibit the enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for converting testosterone to oestrogen. As we age, aromatase activity increases causing a higher ratio of female (oestrogen) to male (testosterone) hormones. By inhibiting this enzyme, less testosterone is converted to oestrogen resulting in higher testosterone levels.

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps to boost testosterone by also inhibiting aromatase. The minimum amount of zinc you should be consuming daily is 15mg, and this will help to maintain normal endocrine function.

Withania supplementation has had positive results in a number of studies showing dramatic increases in testosterone levels over three months, partly by helping to balance cortisol levels as well as regulating testosterone production.

DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that tends to start declining with age, just as testosterone does. Because it has a role in boosting testosterone and balancing oestrogen levels in the body, it is very successful in increasing the levels of testosterone, with studies showing that it can boost levels by up to 20% when compared to a placebo.