For Father’s day, we’re getting to the nitty gritty on herbs for the sacred masculine, herbs for the prostate, strength, stamina and more!
Even when discussing something as specific as prostate health, I believe the body should be looked at holistically. The body is not a set of parts, but a network of synergistic processes and energies that ebb and flow. Therefore, it’s important to take into account a variety of factors, stress management, exercise and cardio, types of movement, lung support, sleep, diet (or as we like to call it “live-it”) and of course, prostate and erectile health. All these factors (and more!) contribute to a man’s overall well-being.
Adding herbs to upgrade your daily routine can provide you deeper nourishment and preventative methods for graceful aging. More and more studies are coming out revealing how many illnesses are being linked to stress.
This isn't just emotional and mental stress, this involves the entire sphere of potentials, environmental, agricultural, spiritual, etc. Science is showing that men’s health is also cyclical (like women!), and andropause, although a slower process than menopause, can strike similar challenges in men. Interestingly enough, it’s not common knowledge or even acknowledged within your classic science class or basic text books. Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on herbs that can help support men’s health as they age.
Below, we’ve put together a small list of some of my favorite herbs for men. These span health benefits for the different stages of a man’s life, from protection to daily health, to sexual desire. These are only a few classics, but this is by no means a complete list.
Systems it targets: brain, reproductive system, musculoskeletal, nervous system, neuroendocrine
Ashwagandha is a precious root with over 4,000 years of historical use within the Ayurvedic medical system. Ashwagandha is best known as a highly nutritious adaptogenic tonic for the reproductive organs, the brain and the nervous system; studies show it helps lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands in response to stress. More specifically, daily doses of 125 mg to 5 grams for 1–3 months have shown to lower cortisol levels by 11–32% (1, 2, 3)
Ashwagandha also happens to be an exceptionally efficient herb to boost fertility and promote reproductive health, especially in men. It is also specifically strengthening for boys, or younger bodies, that are struggling with poor growth as well as convalescence and the diseases of aging.
In one 3-month study in 75 men experiencing infertility, five grams of ashwagandha daily increased sperm count and motility. In another study in highly stressed men, five grams of ashwagandha per day also led to improved sperm quality. By the end of the 3-month study, 14% of their partners had become pregnant (4)
Systems it targets: genitourinary, reproductive system, nervous system.
This is a highly nourishing, fatty, anabolic fruit. Seemingly a specific tonic for the sexual glands of both men (and women!). It is well known to regulate the size and function of reproductive organs, it has also been used to reverse the wasting of testes in the early ages. Saw Palmetto is often used to treat enlarged prostate, improve urinary function, and enhance hair growth. Saw palmetto may help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) — a medical condition characterized by a slow, noncancerous yet abnormal enlargement of the prostate. BPH is common in older men, affecting up to 75% of men in their 70s (1) If left untreated, the prostate can enlarge to the point of interfering with the ability to properly empty the bladder.
Some also use the supplement to boost libido and fertility and reduce inflammation. Studies have also demonstrated that it contains anti-cancerous chemistry.
The saw palmetto fruit has long been used by Native Americans for its nutritional, diuretic, sedative, aphrodisiac, and cough-reducing properties. Nowadays, the berries are eaten whole or dried and used to make tea. Or the fatty/oily extracts are taken as an extract. Taken over time Serenoa can add strength and vitality to debilitated people, and along with general strengthening, it may decrease nervous irritability due to weakness and exhaustion. When used regularly Saw palmetto directly influences the entire male reproductive apparatus, in particular to the prostate gland.
Suggested use: 1 tsp of powdered berries per cup as an infusion, once a day.
Systems it targets: Brain, Reproductive, Neuroendocrine.
Mucuna pruriens is a revered adaptogenic legume that has been a food staple amongst many tropical traditions around the world. It’s well known for regulating stress in the body-mind, as a nootropic (“smart drug”), and the most concentrated form of LevaDopa, one of nature’s most powerful dopamine boosters.
On a reproductive/hormonal level, it works by boosting testosterone, in both men and women.
One study found that in men undergoing fertility treatments, Mucuna pruriens improved their testosterone as well as their luteinizing hormone (LH), adrenaline, and noradrenaline levels - all of which will help improve your wood (source).
Mucuna has a long history of helping men with erectile dysfunction. The core reason it has been an effective remedy for performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, and similar issues, is due to its relationship with dopamine. Testosterone, for example, will trigger dopamine in the brain and lead to sexual arousal. Dopamine is the chosen trigger not by chance, but because it’s the pleasure neurotransmitter for all reward-driven behaviour. A healthy receptivity of dopamine, will ensure that testosterone boosting supplements, like Maca, for ex, will be more effective.
Systems it targets: genitourinary, musculoskeletal, endocrine.
You might have heard all about the incredibly mineralizing powers of nettle leaf, but did you know nettle root is one of the best prostate tonics around? Nettle root is specific for prostate health, primarily used as a preventative tonic, and for treating (and alleviating) prostate gland enlargement (BPH - benign prostatic hyperplasia), due to its significant anti-inflammatory chemistry. It is important to make the distinction between leaf and root, as the root, in particular, is what targets this. Nettle root has also been used for hormone regulation as it targets
According to Leslie Taylor ND and master herbalist, nettle has been shown to decrease the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone by inhibiting the production of a chemical responsible for the conversion. While dihydrotestosterone occurs naturally in men as they age, this form of testosterone is linked to hair loss and prostate tissue growth known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Suggested Use: 1 tsp of nettle root powder per cup, 1-2x per day.
Systems it targets: Reproductive, musculoskeletal, neuroendocrine
Within the Amazon, Suma is commonly used as a male and female general tonic and aphrodisiac. Modern research has shown that the ecdysteroids from the Suma root act like anabolic steroids, the hormones involved in building muscle. One of the key reasons it has been used by athletes for strength and athletic performance without the negative side-effects associated with traditional steroids.
Animal-based studies have shown Suma to increase testosterone production. It also contains important nutritional contents that are essential building blocks for testosterone synthesis, such as vitamin A, D, and Zinc. Suma root has also been used to increase sexual performance, libido, also known to help relieve performance anxiety, as well as preventing premature ejaculation.
Suggested use: Add 1 tsp to 1-2 cups of hot water (or choice of tea) and allow to infuse for about 5 minutes.
Systems it targets: Neuroendocrine, musculoskeletal, nervous system.
Maca, a dear root native to the Andes, is a food and medicine that has been used for 2,000+ years. It has generated a lot of buzz over the years due to its reputed ability to boost libido, testosterone, energy, along with being an excellent source to protect from stress and anxiety.There are many benefits of maca root for men, including its ability to increase testosterone levels, treat erectile dysfunction, boost fertility, regulate hormone levels, and improve general prostate health. Maca has been classically used to increase stamina and muscle growth. Since ancient times it was an essential staple, as it assisted those that lived in the Andes to adapt to high altitude and harsh environments, providing them with energy and stamina, and even cognitive performance when navigating or living in tough terrain. Studies have now proven traditional uses by demonstrating that it increases bone strength due to its mineral density.Other than being a very tasty aphrodisiac to both men and women, it is very helpful to hormonal imbalances, depression and anxiety.
Maca contains many nutrients and bioactive compounds that can also reduce uncomfortable menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and depression.
Suggested Use: Typical range is 1tsp per day 2-3x per day, depending on its intended use. About 1.5-3grams per day.
Systems it targets: Neuroendocrine, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, reproductive + nervous system.
Cordyceps has a long traditional history of use in the Himalayas, as a nutrient dense general tonic. It has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, and energizing mood booster for more than 2,000 years. In Chinese and Daoist medicine, cordyceps is said to support “jing” (loosely translated to life force, or primordial energy), which makes it a potent rejuvenative, and restorative. Healthy jing is the deep foundational energy reserves of the body and it is this energy that determines one's ultimate vitality and the quantity and quality of one's lifespan. It is intimately linked to reproductive health, sexual health, mood, how we age and more.
Animal and human studies show that the effects of Cordyceps showed sex steroid-like effects. The results of human clinical trials published in The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine demonstrated that Cordyceps is effective in increasing sex drive and affects sexual functions either via sex hormone systems or by directly acting on the sexual organs.
For example, “three separate studies were conducted on a total of 756 people with decreased sex drive who were given either a placebo or 3g per day of Cordyceps for 40 days. The results of those studies demonstrated that 64.8% of the Cordyceps users reported significant improvement in sexual function compared with 23.8% of the placebo group.”*
“The results of another controlled study conducted on elderly men and women with decreased libido, impotence and other sexual dysfunctions who were given 3g per day of Cordyceps for 40 days, showed increased sperm survival time and increased sperm count as well as a majority of patients reporting improvement in libido and sexual health” **(Zhu, J. et al. The Scientific Rediscovery of an Ancient Chinese Herbal Medicine: Cordyceps sinensis The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine
Suggested Use: 1tsp or 3g of extract powder per serving, 1-2x per day.
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Header Image Source: Elena Ray