MEN’S HEALTH ISSUES
MEN AND MEMORY
Men generally pride themselves on their outstanding intellect and often depend on their brainpower for job performance. What happens when your mental prowess slows down— when you can’t recall names, places, or things as well as you used to? Is there an answer in the holistic arena for increasing your mental potential and power? You betcha!
Drinking too much coffee and eating too many sweets are the biggest reasons for poor memory function. Both can cause blood sugar to spike, leading to a later crash. Remember to keep your blood sugar stable by eating plenty of high-quality, easy-to-assimilate protein and carbohydrates, and staying away from too much sugar and caffeine.
The next thing to do is to check your deodorant. You’re probably wondering what deodorant has to do with your mental function. The answer is lots! Commonly used deodorants may contain a derivative of aluminum. Aluminum is known to affect the brain, and has been connected to Alzheimer’s disease, so check the ingredients and make certain you are not using a deodorant that contains any type of aluminum.
Also be certain you are not cooking with aluminum cookware or aluminum foil. If you discover that you’ve been doing any of these for prolonged periods of time, you should get a hair analysis. This will tell you if you have a high concentration of aluminum or any other metal in your body.
High levels of mercury, nickel, and other metals may also cause memory loss and are found in high concentrations in metal dental fillings. Be certain never to let your dentist place silver-colored fillings in your mouth, and try to get any you may already have replaced with biologically compatible materials when convenient. A holistic dentist specializing in the removal of silver fillings will tell you the best material to use for your replacement fillings.
Stress is the next thing to consider. For the brain to work well, you need to be able to be relaxed. We all know that the creative juices flow much more smoothly when we are in a relaxed state—the opposite is also true. When you are uptight, depressed, or anxious about your job, your relationship, your children, your parents, or anything else, it will cut off the blood flow to your brain and decrease your mental function.
The blood flow to your brain is dependent on your neck, shoulders, and back being relaxed. If you are frequently uptight, don’t get enough exercise, are sleep-deprived, or are protein-deficient, the muscles in your back will be more apt to tighten and restrict the flow of blood to your brain, so make sure to get enough exercise, get enough rest, and eat well.
If you do find that you have tight shoulders and neck muscles a lot of the time, you can try treating yourself with magnesium and calcium supplements. The best types of magnesium are colloidal, chelated, glycinate, and malate. The best types of calcium supplements are colloidal, chelated, and lactate; calcium carbonate, the most inexpensive form, is the hardest to assimilate and least effective. Gingko is great for circulation, as is buffered niacin, which is also good for reducing high cholesterol in men.
Homeopathic remedies to help with tight muscles include Magnesium phosphoricum and Kali phosphoricum, depending on the person. Your doctor can decide. There are also some great homeopathic remedies for memory loss, depending on the person’s constitutional type. Here are just a few of the hundreds of homeopathic remedies for weak memory (remember that these are highly simplified descriptions of the types):
Lycopodium: for the man who has trouble with commitments; has a temper; craves sweets; has urinary or prostate problems; gets right-sided headaches; has any liver problems; gets lots of gas/flatulence; feels horrible on waking in the morning; and is easily annoyed by little things.
Phosphorus: for the man who gets frequent colds; has had asthma; gets frequent bronchitis; was a smoker; feels spaced out; is very extroverted and makes acquaintances quite easily; craves chocolate and ice cream; gets frequent sore throats; belches frequently after eating; has a tendency to be overly sensitive to external impressions; and feels restless.
Natrum sulphuricum: for the man who has had weakness of mind and memory ever since a head injury.
Arsenicum album: for the man who is very finicky about everything; is a perfectionist; is very neat; is overly sensitive about issues with money and finances; has skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, acne, boils; feels burning anywhere in the body, such as ulcers, burning eyes, or burning diarrhea; craves alcohol; has irrational fears of death or of getting cancer; and doesn’t like to be left alone.
Other supplements essential for boosting mental function include Siberian ginseng, gingko, L-glutamine, L-tyrosine, choline, phosphatidylserine, and vitamin B-12.
MEN AND SEXUAL PERFORMANCE
Obviously, when it comes to men and sexual relationships, we all are very aware of wanting to maintain our sense of prowess and excellent sexual performance abilities. It is vital to mention that the prostate function is one of your keys to good sex.
I encourage you not to “buy into” the Western medical model, which states that according to statistics, a very high percentage of men will have prostate problems, so we should just accept that it happens. From a statistical point of view, it may very well be true that the incidence level is high, but a man who is aware of his body, eats well, takes supplements, and exercises will automatically and drastically lessen his chances of ever having a prostate problem. If you add to your formulary a constitutional homeopathic remedy and a supplement specifically targeting prostate health, you can pretty well rest assured that you will not become one of those statistics.
There is also research suggesting that lots of sex is very healthy for the prostate, but traditional Oriental medicine conflicts with this idea. When a man comes to me for medical consultation, I assess his overall chi (using tongue and pulse diagnosis), along with his complete health history and blood test results, and I determine whether he has the energy for a lot of sex, or if he’s better off withholding his semen for occasional release only.
To play it safe, it’s not going to hurt you to take some Yin tonifying herbal formula such as Shou Wu Chih, Rehmannia 6, or Quiet Contemplative. Some men may also need a Yang tonifying formula such as Rehmannia 8 or Dynamic Warrior. To determine if you need a Yin or Yang tonifier ask the following questions and then add up your results:
You could use a Yin Tonifier if you:
• Have night sweats
• Easily experience anger or anxiety
• Have an abundance of energy
• Have a reddish complexion
• Are constipated
• Crave sweet foods more than salty foods
• Have trouble holding your ejaculation as long as you would like
• Have low back pain
• Have dry hair, skin, or eyes
• Have any nervousness around sex
• Lack sexual fluids
• Lack inner calm or are shaky or jumpy
You could use a Yang Tonifier if you:
• Have a weak back and knees
• Experience frequent urination
• Experience unusual day sweating
• Feel inordinately cold all the time
• Have trouble achieving and maintaining an erection
• Have chronic asthma
• Lack sexual desire
• Are fatigued after sex
• Have problems with fertility
• Feel indecisive in your life
• Are lazy, tired a lot, or lack responsibility or courage
• Have a difficult time finding a focus in your life
Additional herbal remedies and supplements to help in sexual and prostate function include Siberian ginseng, wild yam extract, saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil extract, pygeum, yohimbinum, and gingko.
Homeopathic remedies that are known to help boost sexual function in men include the following: Yohimbinum, Kali phosphoricum, Sepia, Sabal serrulata, Phosphoric acid, Lycopodium, and Staphysagria, depending on the man and his constitution.
MEN, JOINT PAIN, AND ATHLETIC INJURIES
Men are particularly prone to getting athletic injuries and joint pain, because they often concern themselves with performance to the extent that they ignore how their bodies might be feeling at the time. It is usually easier for men to ignore their pain than it is for women; at least, in my medical practice, I get many fewer men seeking help with pain problems than I do women. We men need to train ourselves to become more aware of subtle pain sensations, so we can catch them before they create a real problem for us.
Some of the best supplements for joint pain, athletic injury, and inflammation are natural substances that have been around for years. Vitamin C, in a buffered, chelated, esterified form (rather then ascorbic acid), is a great anti-inflammatory, and should be the first product to try. Inflavonoids are also great, and often can be purchased in a combined product with the vitamin C. Other helpful anti-inflammatory herbs and vitamins include the following: Boswellia serrata, ashwagandha, malic acid, gingko, ginger, and curcumin.
Always remember that for spinal pain or any joint pain, including arthritis, it’s important to take glucosamine sulfate to help rebuild the joint and cartilage tissue. Some formulas may also include chondroitin sulfate or shark cartilage and gelatin.
Some of the more commonly used homeopathic remedies for joint pains and injuries are the following:
Traumeel: a topical ointment combination remedy that includes Arnica, it should be used immediately for any trauma sustained.
Arnica: the most common homeopathic remedy to use as soon as possible after a trauma occurs (including sprains, strains, spasms, etc.), to get the trauma out of the system.
Rhus toxicodendron: good for sciatic, back, or neck pains, when the pain feels better once the person starts moving around (it’s called the “rusty gate” remedy, because once the person starts moving they feel better).
Hypericum: used for injuries to the nerves, such as the tips of the fingers or toes, nose, or anywhere there is shooting pain or nerve involvement.
Ruta graveolens: a primary remedy used for injuries involving any tendon or ligament.
Symphytum: used to heal bone fractures.
Belladonna: for inflammation or fever caused by injury.
Ferrum phosphoricum: use after the acute Belladonna phase, for ongoing pain and inflammation.
MEN AND CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Some of the most common cardiovascular problems that affect men are high cholesterol, hypertension, heart palpitations, and arrhythmias. Stress certainly plays a major role in determining cardiac risk levels, but most doctors agree that there is also a significant genetic factor as well.
Blood lipid panels are a necessary step in diagnosing cardiac risk. Not only does a doctor want to examine the total cholesterol to determine a man’s risk levels, but there is also a need to look at the triglycerides in combination with the HDL (good cholesterol) and the LDL (bad cholesterol). Your blood test will give a reading of your cardiac risk, which is dependent on a ratio of these various items. Your liver, when healthy, is supposed to create a certain amount of cholesterol. One little-known fact is that vegetarians, who tend to have extremely low cholesterol, can also have a big cardiac risk, because their bodies are not creating enough of the good cholesterol.
Any cholesterol problem always concerns the liver, and the treatment according to Chinese medicine is always aimed at working on the liver. For good liver health and detoxification, use dandelion root, either in tea form, capsules, or tincture. Other good herbs and supplements for liver health include milk thistle, burdock, vitamin E, gingko, alpha lipoic acid, ginger, bilberry, and Coenzyme Q10.
Whenever you are working on detoxifying and cleansing the liver, you should always remember the importance of also detoxifying the colon. The two go hand in hand. There are many good colon-cleanser products at your health food store. I often use a product containing crushed flax seeds called Nutri-Flax. Not only do you obtain the bulk of the flax and the scouring effects of the fiber, but also you get some of the positive effects of the flax oil itself.
Herbs for reducing cholesterol and to help with general circulation include the following Chinese formulas: Siler & Platycodon, Salvia Plus, and Tienchi Ginseng Tablets (Pseudoginseng). Other supplements for high cholesterol include Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, niacin, chromium, vitamin E, crataegus (hawthorn), olive oil, and the amino acid L-carnitine. Acupuncture has also been proven very effective in all types of cardiovascular health maintenance and treatment.
Many old ways of thinking about diet have been proven wrong with the most recent research. Eating eggs, meat, and other foods high in cholesterol is not usually the cause of high cholesterol in the blood. It’s more often a function of how the body is processing the food on a physiological level, so changing diet alone will rarely permanently solve the problem. It’s more important to focus on getting enough high-quality protein in your diet, while exercising enough and working on strengthening the function of the body’s vital organs.
For high blood pressure, it is of primary importance to control stress through exercise and some type of relaxation such as meditation, swimming, or walking. According to Chinese medicine, there is almost always a Yin deficiency as a predisposing factor to having high blood pressure, so Yin-boosting herbal formulas, such as Quiet Contemplative or Rehmannia 6 are indicated in treatment.
The adage of reducing sodium intake to help high blood pressure may or may not be true for each individual. I always run blood tests to determine electrolyte status and only then recommend increasing or reducing salt. More often, the culprit is not, in fact, too much sodium, but not enough fluids in the system. Dehydration on a cellular level more often leads to hypertension than does salt intake. Taking enough of all the electrolytes is always important in treating hypertension; these include potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. It is better to check the blood to see exactly which electrolytes are running low before supplementing. Other supplements for hypertension should include Coenzyme Q10, flax seed oil, and vitamin C.
Weight reduction is also of vital importance in helping to keep blood pressure under control. Recent research shows that 5-HTP and chromium work very effectively in some people to reduce weight safely.
Heart palpitations and arrhythmias are, for the most part, treated the same way in Chinese medicine as hypertension is. They are usually due to a Yin deficiency, and most men who have this problem are also low on electrolytes. In addition, there is almost always a stress and emotional component, since the heart is said to rule the emotions in Chinese medicine. Additional formulas can include Ginseng & Zyziphus, Calm ZZZ, or Ginseng & Longan, to work on both the emotional and physiological aspects of the heart problem.
Acupuncture has been clinically shown to be very effective for treatment of palpitations, hypertension, and most other problems of the cardiovascular system. Homeopathic Crataegus, Digitalis, Cactus grand, and the snake remedies like Lachesis, Elaps, or Crotalus hor are also often used to effectively treat heart problems.
It’s heartening to see that more and more men are becoming aware of their body/mind/spirit and are taking the steps needed to support and improve their physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Through the increased awareness of men on an individual level, we are bound achieve better collective health and well-being on a societal level.