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Health Protocols

Male Hormone Restoration

Boost Testosterone and Suppress Estrogen Levels Naturally

For men who choose not to (or are advised not to) use hormone replacement therapy, nutrients can play a vital role in a comprehensive program designed to reduce the impact of aging on sex hormone production and metabolism. The following is a list of nutrients that are part of Life Extension's comprehensive male hormone restoration program.

Essential Nutrients for Optimal Testosterone Production

Zinc. This mineral is involved in almost every aspect of male reproduction, including testosterone metabolism, sperm formation, and sperm motility.61 A prime example of the usefulness of zinc was illustrated in a study of 37 infertile men with decreased testosterone levels and associated low sperm counts.62 The men were given 60 mg of zinc daily for 45‒50 days. In the majority of patients, testosterone levels significantly increased and mean sperm count rose from 8 million to 20 million. Some men require higher levels of zinc to adequately suppress aromatase.

DHEA. DHEA is an important hormone that tends to be depleted steadily with age.63 A 2006 study assessing DHEA supplementation in men of average 65 years of age found that the men experienced significant increases in testosterone and significant decreases in low-density lipoprotein.64

Tribulus. Tribulus terrestris, also known as puncture vine, contains the active ingredient protodioscin, which is reportedly converted to DHEA in the body.65 This DHEA-boosting activity may account for puncture vine’s reputation as an aphrodisiac in its native Europe and Asia. Animal studies appear to confirm the ability of tribulus to improve sexual function.66,67

Antioxidants. One reason testosterone production may decline with advancing age is oxidative damage in the tissues that produce testosterone. A study examining the role of antioxidants in male hormone imbalance in aging men noted that antioxidant supplements (including vitamins A and E, zinc, and selenium) all supported testosterone production.68

Natural Products to Keep Aromatase and/or Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) in Check

Chrysin. The bioflavonoid chrysin is a natural aromatase inhibitor.69 Bodybuilders have used chrysin as a testosterone-boosting supplement, because it minimizes the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Although chrysin has low oral bioavailability,70 its bioavailability may be significantly enhanced by co-administration with the black pepper extract, piperine, thus enhancing its actions as an aromatase inhibitor.71

Quercetin. One study showed that red wine inhibits aromatase, thus inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. The study attributed this effect to the quercetin and other ingredients.72

Nettle root. Lignans contained in nettle root extract may help prevent the binding of sex hormone-binding globulin to testosterone. This may help ensure that free testosterone is available for promoting male vitality and youthful sexual function.73,74 Nettle root extract is used extensively, either in combination with saw palmetto75 or by itself76 for relief of BPH symptoms.

Fish oil. A study examined how the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA affected SHBG levels in men 43 to 88 years of age.77 After controlling for other variables, the researchers concluded that both EPA and DHA decreased levels of SHBG in middle-aged and elderly men.

Protein. While adequate protein consumption is vital to maintaining muscle mass, it is also important in maintaining testosterone levels. A study examined the relationship between diet and SHBG, and found that diets low in protein in men 40‒70 years old may lead to elevated SHBG levels and consequently decreased testosterone bioactivity.78

Natural Products to Support Sexual Function

Muira puama. Muira puama, Ptychopetalum olacoides, grows in the Amazon region of Brazil. It is considered an aphrodisiac and an effective treatment for impotence. It has been studied by Jacques Waynberg,79 a prominent medical sexologist at the Institute of Sexology in Paris. In one of his studies, men with loss of libido received 1.5 grams/day of muira puama for two weeks. Sixty-two percent rated the treatment as having a dynamic effect, and 52% with erectile dysfunction rated the treatment as beneficial. In another study, muira puama treatment was given to 100 men, aged 18 years or older, with impotence and/or loss of libido. A significantly increased frequency of intercourse was reported in 66% of the men. Of the 46 men who complained of loss of desire, 70% reported libido intensification. The stability of erection during intercourse was restored in 55% of men, and 66% of men reported a reduction in fatigue. Other reported beneficial effects included improved sleep and morning erections.

Maca. Maca has been used among indigenous people in the Andes region for centuries. It is a reputed aphrodisiac and fertility enhancer. Peruvian researchers conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study on a small group of men aged 21‒56. Results showed that, versus placebo, maca improved subjective reports of male sexual desire. Subjects consumed either 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg of maca, or placebo, for three months. After eight weeks, improvements were noted in sexual desire among the subjects who consumed maca.80

L-carnitine. L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative that may be more active than testosterone in aging men who have sexual dysfunction and depression caused by an androgen deficiency. Both testosterone and carnitine improve sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, and nocturnal penile tumescence, but carnitine is more effective than testosterone in improving erectile function, nocturnal penile tumescence, orgasm, and general sexual well-being. L-carnitine was also more efficacious than testosterone for treating depression.81

Natural Products to Support Prostate Health

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C protects against dangerous estrogen metabolites and subsequent prostate cancer. An adequate intake of I3C, through vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, or via supplements, may be very helpful for aging men in both keeping undesirable estrogen metabolites such as 16-alphahydroxyestrone in check and decreasing their risk of prostate cancer. Studies have demonstrated that I3C increases the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone. For men, this very well might mean a decrease in prostate cancer risk.82,83 In a study that examined the association of prostate cancer risk with estrogen metabolism, the authors said, “results of this case-control study suggest that the estrogen metabolic pathway favoring 2-hydroxylation over 16-alpha-hydroxylation may reduce risk of clinically evident prostate cancer.”84

Pygeum. A bark extract from the native African cherry tree Pygeum africanum, has been used in Europe to treat BPH since 1960, and is currently the most commonly used therapeutic agent for this condition in France.85 One theory for the anti-BPH action of pygeum involves the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent testosterone metabolite that may exacerbate BPH, via the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase.86 A recent study identified that N-butylbenzene-sulfonamide (NBBS) was isolated from P. africanum as a specific androgen receptor (AR) antagonist. NBBS inhibits AR- and progesterone receptor (PR)-mediated transactivation, as well as endogenous PSA expression and growth of human prostate cancer cells.87

Saw palmetto. In Europe, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) has been used extensively as a drug for reducing symptoms of (BPH). Saw palmetto has multiple mechanisms of action: inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase; inhibition of DHT binding to the androgen receptor; reduction of the inflammatory component of prostate growth (by inhibiting COX-2 and an enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase); induction of apoptosis and inhibition of prostate cell proliferation.88-91 Its clinical benefits for prostate enlargement include reduced nocturnal urinary urgency,92 decreased residual urine volume in the bladder,93 and less discomfort from urination symptoms.94