Men's Health | July 17, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is produced in the testes and to a lesser extent in the adrenal gland. Although women produce some testosterone, the hormone is produced in much higher quantities by males. Testosterone is responsible for many of the secondary sex characteristics at puberty, such as a deeper voice, facial and body hair, building muscle mass and the growth and maturation of reproductive organs.
But is there a thing as having too much testosterone? Yes, there is. Although it is known to affect only 2.5% of the population, there is also the problem of having too much dihydrotestosterone –the more potent form of testosterone.
Testosterone belongs to a class of hormones called androgens, which are sometimes referred to as steroids or anabolic steroids. In men, the majority of testosterone in produced in the testes which are regulated by the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland. The hypothalamus instructs the pituitary gland on how much testosterone to produce and this message is then passed on to the testes.There are range of chemicals and hormones released into the body help to deliver these messages.
Testosterone is important for the development of male sex organs before birth. At puberty testosterone is responsible for voice deepening, increased penis and testes size, hair on the face and body, and the production of sperm. The hormone also plays a role in fat distribution, red cell production, maintenance of muscle strength and mass, maintaining healthy energy levels and contributes to a healthy libido.
Having adequate levels of testosterone has been linked to preventing osteoporosis in males. For these reasons testosterone is associated with overall health and well-being in men.
Although having low testosterone is more common in middle-age and elderly men, excess testosterone levels can cause problems, usually in younger males.
Testosterone levels peak at the age of 20, and then steadily decline in ageing men.
Excess testosterone can occur in professional athletes or body builders utilizing anabolic steroids to gain an athletic edge. They usually use steroids to increase muscle mass and performance. High testosterone levels can also be the result of males receiving medical treatment for low levels of androgens.
Testosterone in converted to DHT by specific enzymes. DHT is an example of another androgen but is five times more potent than testosterone. Approximately 5% of free testosterone is converted into DHT via specific enzymes, namely 5-alpha-reductase. While DHT has similar benefits to testosterone, it is involved in benign hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), prostate cancer and male pattern baldness.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider having your levels of total and free testosterone and DHT levels checked by your health practitioner.
Most males are concerned of the effects of excess DHT levels on prostate problems, balding and prostate cancer. Try these proven, natural solutions to reduce the effects of excess androgens.
The herb Saw palmetto, is traditionally used for disorders of the male reproductive tract, mainly those involving the enlargement of the prostate.
Constituents in the herb help to inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, thus reducing the conversion of testosterone to its more potent form DHT. As a result, Saw palmetto can be used to treat male hair loss, an enlarged prostate and reduce your risk of prostate cancer. In vitro studies have identified that Saw palmetto antagonises testosterone receptors and interferes with oestrogen receptors in the prostate cells.
Saw palmetto won’t reduce testosterone levels but it will prevent their conversion to DHT, reducing the activity of testosterones more potent form.
Otherwise known as Chaste tree, Vitex is well-known for its ability to regulate hormones in females but research has identified benefits for males with increased testosterone levels. Vitex appears to have anti-androgenic effects and in animal studies helped to significantly reduce testosterone and prolactin levels.
In ancient times, Vitex was used to reduce libido, hence the name Chaste tree. As it has been shown to reduce testosterone levels, one could then theorize that Vitex could reduce excessive libido in males.
Research has indicated that an active ingredient in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) when combined with soy blocks the formation of DHT.
In the 2003 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, scientists from Harvard Medical School found that green tea and soy significantly reduced DHT and testosterone concentrations in the blood.
It was also found that, ECGC decreased cell proliferation in prostate cancer by promoting cell death and inhibiting DHT.
Green tea and soy can easily be included into the diet.
Aim to drink 2-3 cups of green tea a day but if that isn’t your cup of tea green tea can be purchased as a supplement. Non-GM soy can be added to the diet by consuming soy protein shakes, soy milk, tofu, tempeh and miso soup. For best results aim for one serve of soy each day.
Other beneficial supplements for increased androgens include evening primrose oil and for prostate related-problems, white willow, pygeum and pumpkin seeds.
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Nasri S, et al. The effects of Vitex agnus castus extract and its interaction with dopaminergic system on LH and testosterone in male mice. Pak J Biol Sci. 2007 Jul 15;10(14):2300-7
Zhou J, et al. Soy phytochemicals and tea bioactive components synergistically inhibit androgen-sensitive human prostate tumours in mice. J. Nutri. Feb 1 2003;133(2):516-521
Opuwari CS, Monsees TK. Reduced testosterone production in TM3 Leydig cells treated with Aspalathus linearis (rooibos) or camellia sinensis (tea). Andrologia. 2015 Feb;47(1):52-8
Grant P, Ramasamy S. An update on plant derived anti-androgens. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Apr;10(2):497-502