Men have their own health challenges as they age. Fortunately, there are natural approaches, including supplements, that can prevent or treat the most common ailments. Read on to discover what men should be using for common health conditions.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is commonly referred to as prostate enlargement. The prostate is a walnut-size gland that lies below the urinary bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder). The main role of the prostate is to make fluid that becomes part of semen.
BPH is very common. It affects more than half of men in their 60s, and as many as 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s have some symptoms of BPH. Symptoms are rare in men in their 40s or younger. As the prostate gland enlarges, it presses against the urethra and interferes with urine flow. This irritates the bladder, thickening it and causing it to contract even when it contains small amounts of urine. Common symptoms of BPH include frequent urination (especially at night), urgency, leaking or dribbling, and weak stream. Supplements can help treat this condition.
Beta-sitosterol is naturally occurring in plant foods, including rice bran, wheat germ, corn oil, soybeans, and peanuts. The supplemental extract form significantly relieves BPH urinary symptoms. Animal research shows that beta-sitosterol may inhibit 5-alpha-reductase activity, which is responsible for producing dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that is implicated in the development of BPH, and shrinks the prostate; this has not yet been demonstrated in humans. Take 60 to 130 mg of beta-sitosterol divided into two to three doses daily on an empty stomach.
Taken orally, rye grass pollen extract (Cernilton) improves symptoms such as urinary frequency, nighttime urination, urgency, decreased urine flow rate, dribbling, and painful urination in patients with mild to moderate BPH. The extract seems to relax the sphincter muscles that control the bladder. A study published in the British Journal of Urology found a statistically significant subjective improvement with Cernilton (69 percent of the patients) compared with placebo (30 percent) in men with BPH. Take 126 mg three times daily.
A multitude of published clinical studies have demonstrated that saw palmetto provides improvement for mild to moderate symptoms of BPH. This includes benefit for frequent urination, hesitancy, painful urination, nighttime urination, and generally weak urinary flow. A review of saw palmetto studies involved 3,139 men from 21 randomized trials lasting four to 48 weeks. Eighteen of these trials were double-blinded. The researchers concluded the evidence suggests that saw palmetto provides mild to moderate improvement in urinary symptoms and flow measures. Saw palmetto also produced similar improvement in urinary symptoms and flow compared to the drug finasteride and is associated with fewer adverse treatment events. One to two times daily, take 320 mg of a product standardized between 80 to 85 percent fatty acids.
HEART ATTACK AND STROKE PREVENTION
Millions of men in the United States take aspirin with the belief that this drug will help prevent a heart attack or stroke by acting as a blood thinner. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports that up to 60 percent of users are aspirin-resistant. This means that aspirin does not have a blood-thinning effect for these individuals. Instead, they are prone to side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, dyspepsia (pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen), and ulcers from long-term aspirin use. One study in Ophthalmology found prolonged aspirin use could increase risk of eye cataracts by 55 percent.
For many of my male patients, I recommend following the general dietary guidelines of a Mediterranean diet for heart attack and stroke prevention. This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, such as fish, olive oil, moderate intake of whole grains, and red wine or grape juice. In addition, the following supplements are recommended to naturally thin the blood and reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system (check with your doctor before using if you are on blood-thinning medications): fish oil (1,000-2,000 mg of EPA and DHA combined); mixed tocopherol vitamin E (200-400 IU); nattokinase (2,000 fibrinolytic units daily on an empty stomach); and B complex (100 mg).
Also, maintaining healthy blood pressure is critical to preventing cardiovascular disease. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a must for good potassium levels. Regular exercise and stress reduction must also be part of the program to reduce weight and pressure inside blood vessel walls. Supplements are effective for this condition. CoQ10, at a dose of 300 mg daily, is recommended. In one study, 109 patients with essential hypertension were given an average of 225 mg of CoQ10 in addition to their existing drug regimen. Participants had significantly improved systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and 51 percent of patients were able to discontinue up to three antihypertensive drugs an average of 4.4 months after starting CoQ10. I also recommend hawthorn extract (600 mg) for strengthening heart muscle tissue and vessels, and magnesium glycinate or taurate (200-300 mg) twice a day to relax blood vessels.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse at least 25 percent of the time, affects men age 20 and older, including more than 80 percent of men over age 75. Drugs such as Viagra and Cialis are commonly prescribed by doctors and touted in TV ads, yet they can cause serious side effects, including digestive disturbances, headaches, and vision loss. Natural ED remedies are effective without the serious side effects seen with most pharmaceuticals. I recommend the following:
- Korean red ginseng: 900 mg taken three times daily.
- Ginkgo biloba: 120 mg twice daily. Do not combine ginkgo with blood-thinners, such as Coumadin.
- L-arginine: 5 g daily or 1.7 g along with 120 mg of Pycnogenol daily. Men with a history of heart disease should check with their doctor first before using L-arginine, which can also lower blood pressure.
The concept of "male menopause" is controversial; however, I have found that many men in their mid-40s to late 50s often experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and lethargy. This can be related to their environment or unhealthy relationships. But it can also be the result of rapidly dropping levels of hormones, such as DHEA and testosterone. Have your doctor test your levels to see if you are deficient; hormone replacement may be beneficial. Also, supplements, such as a sublingual B12 (1,000 mcg daily), fish oil-1,500 mg of EPA and DHA combined-as well as 900 mg daily of the mushroom extract Cordyceps sinensis can all help with vitality and symptom relief. St. John's wort is a good choice to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Take 900 mg daily. Another good mood balancer is SAM-e. Take 400-800 mg two to three times daily on an empty stomach.
These supplements combined with regular exercise and healthy relationships can do wonders for andropause.
Supplements for Sexual Wellness
PERFORMANCE ENERGY MULTIVITAMIN FOR MEN from Rainbow Light is a food-based formula featuring rice bran, ginseng, amino acids, and other vital nutrients for men's health and sexual vitality.
STEEL-LIBIDO from Irwin Naturals combines L-arginine with herbs such as horny goat weed, maca, and yohimbe to boost sexual desire and performance.
MASCULINE is part of a new line of supplements from Sprunk-Jansen. Designed to "spice up your love life," Masculine boasts an ancient Egyptian herb (Asafoetida) popular in Greek-Arabic traditions for enhancing male sexual desire.