Herbs to Help Elevate Testosterone Levels

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Herbs to help elevate testosterone levels includes the use of Asian ginseng and ashwaganda root for recovering correct levels.
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Q and A expert Kathi Keville.
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Q and A expert Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa.

Discover herbs to help elevate testosterone levels, including Asian ginseng, yohimbe and ashwaganda root.

Read more about calming IBS symptoms naturally: Herbs to Help Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Herbs to Help Elevate Testosterone Levels

I am 51 years old. Seven years ago, I was working very hard at
weightlifting. When having some bloodwork done, the doctor noticed
my testosterone levels were below normal. The doctor put me on a
male hormone replacement (Androgel) and I have been on it ever
since. Now that I know better, I do not want to use this drug any
further. I would like some advice on what herbs to use to get off
of this drug, and I will certainly be working with my doctor as I
go through the process.
J.E.
Via e-mail

Keville responds: You are right to think that
after taking Androgel for several years, your body may need a
kickstart to produce a sufficient quantity of testosterone on its
own, especially since your production was low already. It is great
that your doctor is willing to help you wean yourself off the
hormone, and it sounds like he or she might even be supportive of
you taking herbs to help the process. It is a good step, since
there is some evidence that taking testosterone may have
detrimental side effects similar to the problems women develop from
taking estrogen.

Weightlifting usually increases testosterone levels. However,
some weight lifters have discovered that overtraining, and
especially not allowing the body to recuperate adequately between
training sessions, can lower testosterone. Getting enough sleep and
eating a diet rich in nuts and olive oil are some simple lifestyle
suggestions that can help elevate testosterone and keep it high.
The stress from training too hard or emotional stress also can
increase cortisol levels and slow down the body’s production of
testosterone. You can try stretching exercises like yoga, chi gung
or tai chi, which help lower cortisol.

There is no hard evidence that Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng)
supports testosterone, but the Chinese historically have used the
herb for hormone-related problems, and Western herbalists like
myself also think it works well. Many Chinese men still turn to
ginseng today when their testosterone levels begin to decline in
their 40s and 50s. Unlike hormone-enhancing drugs, herbs will
encourage your body to produce its own testosterone, rather than
working as a replacement. The Chinese also recommend kidney tonic
herbs to strengthen and balance hormonal production. Consider
seeing a practitioner who can combine acupuncture with Chinese herb
formulas to help the process of discontinuing the drug.

Khalsa responds: This definitely is a good
project for herbal medicine. Ashwaganda root (Withania somnifera)
is the first herb that comes to mind. This adaptogen is used in
Ayurveda as a tonic and sedative. Studies show ashwaganda to be
superior to ginseng as an anti-stress adaptogen. This rebuilding
herb is the main tonic for men in Ayurveda, which considers
ashwaganda to be a particularly powerful rejuvenative, and it is
regarded as a premier sexual tonic. Over time, it will assist in
recovering testosterone levels.

An animal study from 2001 showed that extracts of ashwaganda
increased production of sex hormones and sperm, presumably by
exerting a testosterone-like effect. In another double blind
clinical trial, 101 healthy male adults (50 to 59 years of age)
took 3 grams of ashwaganda daily for a year to determine the herb’s
effect on the aging process. Significant improvements in
hemoglobin, red blood cells, hair pigment and seated stature were
observed. Serum cholesterol decreased, nail calcium was preserved
and 71.4 percent of those who took the herb reported improvement in
sexual performance.

A typical dose of ashwaganda is about 1 gram a day, taken over
long periods (up to many years) as a rejuvenator, but, since
ashwaganda is very safe, Ayurvedic practitioners often prescribe
larger quantities for short-term use.

Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) is another good possibility for
you. Yohimbe is a West African tree. The bark is a traditional
herbal aphrodisiac. Warriors who were preparing for battle would
drink the bark tea to help them become aggressive and have more
stamina. But yohimbe also helps make love, not war. Males in some
African societies take yohimbe as part of marriage rituals. The
herb developed a reputation for increasing libido, as well as for
improving male sexual performance. Modest doses of yohimbe, taken
over a few months, along with a tonic herb like ashwaganda, can
produce a conspicuous increase in testosterone. In my personal
clinical experience, yohimbe is very reliable in the proper dose.
You might find it helpful to consult a professional herbalist to
get the details right, however—the difference between a pleasant
response and nervous discomfort can be a very small dose.

Most people take a dose that supplies 15 to 30 mg of daily
yohimbine content, but some people respond optimally to 10 or even
5 mg daily. If using the raw herb in powder in a capsule, start
with 200 mg total in one dose, not late in the day, and work up
from there. It usually takes at least two to three weeks for the
herb to begin producing results. Even in normal doses, side effects
of dizziness, anxiety, hyperstimulation and nausea are relatively
common.

Be very cautious using yohimbe if you are taking tricyclic
antidepressants; phenothiazines; clonidine; drugs for lowering
blood pressure; or central nervous system stimulants. It is best to
use this herb under the guidance of a qualified herbalist.

Kathi Keville is the director of the American Herb Association (www.ahaherb.com) and author of 11 herb and aromatherapy books, including Herbs for Health and Healing (Rodale, 1996). She teaches seminars throughout the United States.

Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa has more than 25 years of experience with medicinal herbs. He is a licensed dietitian/nutritionist, massage therapist and board member of the American Herbalists Guild. Khalsa’s book Body Balance is available on our Bookshelf, page 58.

Please send your questions to Herbs for Health “Q & A,” 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax (785) 274-4305; or e-mail us at letters@herbsforhealth.com. Provide your name and full address for verification, although both will be kept confidential.

The information offered in “Q & A” is not intended to be a substitute for advice from your health care provider.

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