Testosterone is the main reproductive hormone in males. It is also found in trace amounts in females. In general, it regulates fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production.
After the age of 40, there is a slow and steady decline in testosterone levels for both men and women, resulting in a variety of symptoms.
SIDE EFFECTS OF LOW TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
Symptoms of low testosterone depend on a person’s age, and may include:
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction for men and less sexual enjoyment for women
- Decreased sense of well-being and a lack of self confidence
- Depressed mood and a lack of motivation
- Difficulties with concentration and memory
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of muscular strength
- A decrease in hemoglobin and mild anemia
- A decrease in body hair
- Thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
- Increased body fat
- Breast development (gynecomastia)
CAUSES OF TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY
In addition to aging, which will naturally lower testosterone levels in all humans over time, there are several other causes:
- Specific medicines and treatments
- Genetic conditions
- Testicular injury
- Cancer in your testicles or its treatment
- Any kind of infection or inflammation
- hormonal disorders
- AIDS or HIV
- Kidney diseases
- Liver diseases
- Type 2 diabetes and other factors like aging
According to an article by WebMD.com, “One study showed that in 2,100 men over age 45, the odds of having low testosterone were:
- 2.4 times higher for obese men
- 2.1 times higher for men with diabetes
- 1.8 times higher for men with high blood pressure
Experts don’t suggest that low testosterone causes these conditions. In fact, it might be the other way around. That is, men with medical problems or who are in poor general health might then develop low testosterone,” states the article.
SIDE EFFECTS OF HIGH TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
On the flip side, having too much testosterone can also be problematic, leading to:
- Too much estrogen, which can lead to unwanted side effects like mood swings, water retention, high blood pressure, breast sensitivity or breast growth (even in men!).
- Oily skin and acne aggravated by the elevated levels of DHT associated with increased testosterone.
- Hair loss or male-pattern balding
- Testicular shrinking
- Increased red blood cell production, which, particularly in older men, can lead to increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, or clotting if ignored.
- Rage and other heated emotions, particularly as a result of certain steroids
BALANCING TESTOSTERONE LEVELS WITH AYURVEDA
The practice of Ayurveda is all about balance. We balance the energetic doshas and the elements and qualities associated with each. When we balance hormones, we are typically balancing the Pitta energy in the body, as Pitta governs the intelligence of the body and mind. In line with this thinking, it is interesting to note that most side effects of testosterone imbalance reflect the same symptoms of Pitta imbalances. Pitta imbalances tend to start with excess heat and hormones and eventually lead to burnout–fatigue, tissue deficiencies and hormonal deficiencies. Vata can also be imbalanced early on due to a dominant Vata body type or later in life when the individual enters the Vata stage of life or as a result of Pitta burnout.
To prevent Pitta burnout and balance Vata, healthy lifestyle choices are important. A healthy diet; moderate, regular exercise; scheduled relaxation, mental relaxation or meditation and specific yoga mudras (restricted body positions that create a surge of blood flow when released) can help balance testosterone and other hormones in the body.
In addition, Ayurveda can offset the testosterone-diminishing effects of aging with traditional vajikarana or rasayana herbs. Shilajit is one of the best testosterone-increasing herbs in the Ayurvedic medicine cabinet. Studies have shown Shilajit to be a natural booster of both testosterone and follicule-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels and to reduce fatigue. Giloy or Guduchi stem reduces heat in the body and helps prevent all effects of aging. Gokshura, a natural diuretic, reduces inflammation in the pelvic region. Ashwagandha is a well-known aphrodisiac, and Bala is a natural steroid. Lastly, Kapikachhu or Mucuna helps maintain optimum testosterone levels in the body.
Before taking any herbal remedies or supplements, you should know whether your testosterone levels (as well as other hormones) are deficient, too high or balanced. It is particularly important to get tested if you are over the age of 40 or are experiencing any of the symptoms noted above. The good news is that there are many options for taking these tests easily in your own home. Check out the two I have listed below.
Staying healthy and vibrant as we age is a matter of balancing our hormones and our diet and lifestyle. A healthy future begins with awareness and knowledge about what is going on inside of our bodies. So get tested regularly and use the natural tools we have available to re-balance whenever possible.
Stay healthy, happy and vibrant. Namaste.
AT-HOME TESTS FOR EVERYONE
Karen Callahan is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist with a digital practice based in Las Vegas. Prior to 2020, she had an office in Pasadena, California, where she was practicing Ayurveda since 2014.
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.