Testosterone Is Important To Heart Health: How to Raise It Naturally

In the last blog, I mentioned that my “patient” (myself) was experiencing uncharacteristic fatigue and lack of motivation.  The regular blood tests showed a normally-functioning thyroid, no anemia and blood sugar regulation within normal parameters.  The cholesterol level was slightly high but not significantly changed over the last few years.  The total testosterone was within the “normal” range, but the free or “active” testosterone was in the very low part of the range. Remember what I said about testosterone and heart disease?  The free or “active” form of Testosterone helps to protect a man’s heart and arteries.  Dr. Edward Lichten, M.D. in his “Textbook of Bio-Identical Hormones” states that “scientifically, vitamin D, human growth hormone, thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3), DHEA, and testosterone in men and estradiol in women have strong cardio-protective or therapeutic applications”.

Man running in a gym on a treadmill concept for exercising, fitnWhat can a 58-year-old male do to increase his testosterone? Exercise – especially resistance training – tends to increase the testosterone level and the HDL.  Reducing fat mass increasing lean muscle mass also reduces the tendency of the body to convert testosterone to estrogen and decreases insulin resistance.  It is important for a man’s reproductive health that his body have the correct levels of Zinc, Vitamin E, and certain amino acids (like L-Citrulline and L-Arginine) vitamin C, B vitamins, and magnesium.  Certain herbs are reputed to raise the free testosterone level – in particular, Tribulus terrestris and Eurycoma longifolia.  Taking the natural precursors to testosterone production may increase levels e.g., DHEA, if it is available.  Reducing stress is very important because high levels of cortisol (produced when stressed) suppresses DHEA.   In general, I prefer patients to raise their testosterone levels through natural stimulation – rather than immediate testosterone replacement – if at all possible.  Read on as I make testosterone stimulation very personal….

In my case, Blood Spot testing (done by finger prick and is a combination of arterial and venous blood) had previously been done in 2012 and was repeated on the same day as the regular blood tests last month.  In 2012, the only parameter that was slightly below normal was the Testosterone level.  The current test showed a further 30% drop in testosterone and a 56.5% reduction in DHEAS values.  The current results show that there are four cardiovascular parameters that are now abnormal:  the triglycerides are elevated (20% more than 2012); the HDL or good cholesterol has decreased by 40%; the VLDL (the very bad LDL cholesterol) is elevated as is the insulin level.  In addition, the Vitamin D level is also severely low – which is surprising because I routinely take 2000 IU per day.

In a nutshell, it is my contention that most, if not all, of these cardiovascular-related changes are due to a less-than-optimal testosterone and vitamin D level .  Unless I take appropriate action, I will become insulin-resistant (Type 2 diabetic) and the mechanisms of arteriosclerosis will continue to increase.  Rather than immediately going for Bio-identical testosterone replacement, I will attempt to raise the testosterone level through exercise, stress reduction, weight reduction, nutrient supplementation and so on over the next few months and will report back to you when the tests are repeated in January 2015.

Until next time…..

Dr. Gatis

Testosterone Is Not Just For Sex

funkyicon_maleHormone Optimization Therapy is important to every man, and at every age past puberty.  It might surprise you to know that the average man in his thirties these days has less measurable testosterone than his grandfather did at the same age – which probably explains why many thirty-year-olds are still living at home!  My theory is that these lowered testosterone levels (and the availability of online pornography) are killing the desire for young males to go out and start families of their own.  In other words, “the population-level declines are greater in magnitude than the cross-sectional declines in testosterone typically associated with age.” (J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab 2006, Oct 24)

What do optimal levels of testosterone do for a man?  If we take sexual desire and erections out of the equation for a moment, an adequate level of testosterone contributes to brain, bone, muscle and heart health – and reduces overall mortality rates.  A 2007 study had been following 800 men over the age of fifty for 18 years.  The group of men with values in the lower 1/3 testosterone level had a 33% increased rate of death from all causes than those men whose values were in the upper 1/3 testosterone level.  Another way to say this is… a higher level of testosterone that a man has as he ages reduces his risk of dying.  High free testosterone levels correlate with improved cognitive function and memory, and reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  Lower testosterone levels are associated with coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis.  Testosterone improves exercise-induced angina as it dilates coronary arteries.  High cholesterol has been associated with low testosterone and testosterone therapy has been shown to lower total cholesterol.  Testosterone therapy builds muscle mass in elderly men and increases bone strength.  These are just a few examples in current literature of the benefits of having enough testosterone.

The following is a list of symptoms indicating that a man may be low in testosterone:  decreased muscle mass and strength;  decreased sex drive;  reduced frequency and firmness of erections;  reduced ejaculate volume;  hot flushes;  excessive emotions/sensitivity to difficulty;  unnecessary worry anxiety, fear;  depression;  loss of self-confidence;  joint pains;  persistent fatigue that increases with activity; dry eyes;  reduced muscle tone;  depressed attitude;  nervous, irritable;  poor concentration and memory;  pale skin/anemia;  increased fat in breasts, abdomen and hips;  metabolic syndrome.  If you have any of these symptoms/signs on a continuing basis, please mention them to your primary health care provider and ask for testing to rule out testosterone deficiency. If, after the testing is done, your provider says that you are in the “normal” range, please ask him or her where in the normal range do your values fall?  If you are in the lower 1/3 of the range you are at risk (re-read paragraph number two above) and should consider or hormone optimization therapy.  In the next blog, I will talk about the ways to optimize testosterone levels – both naturally and by replacement.

~ Dr. Gatis

HOT & Aging Go Together

Hardly anyone would say that I need to “optimize my hormones” for good health and longevity.  In fact, many of the signs of aging can be directly related to declining amounts of major hormones.  Testosterone, DHEA, Progesterone, Estrogen, Growth Hormone all decline with age, for example.  Why are many people almost obsessed with the idea of anti-aging?  We all are going to die, right?  Well let me tell you a simple fact.  When I reach the age of sixty and beyond, when asked “How are you?”, I want to be able to look them in the eye, give them the thumbs-up sign and say “Golden” (and mean it).

That is why I am a proponent of “H.O.T.” or Hormone Optimization Therapy.  To this end, for myself and my Naturopathic patients, I have taken the training and become a Fellow and Board-Certified in Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine – and I have decided to “blog” about relevant

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issues that we all should know about when it comes to healthy aging.

H.O.T. is not just bio-identical hormone replacement therapy– as important as this can be.  Excessive hormonal levels – like insulin and cortisol – also adversely affect health.  Hormone Optimization Therapy takes into account that hormone levels and organ systems are all interactive.  Reducing stress and restoring adrenal function is absolutely necessary for individuals with low thyroid activity, for example.  Optimizing both adrenal and thyroid function is necessary to have balanced female and male hormones. A Naturopathic Doctor by virtue of his or her training is a specialist in supporting and optimizing the body’s functions.

It was a surprise to me that a high percentage of men have symptoms of and suffer from hypothyroidism and low testosterone as they get older.  The “grumpy old man” syndrome is actually the result of low T!  Maybe it is just the male in me, but there is a distinct difference between being sensitive to your female partner’s needs and being an emotionally “sensitive” male as a man ages.  One of my patient’s just today mentioned that as her father has gotten older, he cries much more often – and “that isn’t my dad”.  In my opinion, his Testosterone to Estrogen ratio has changed and he has become more hormonally like a female.   Please understand that I am not saying that there is anything wrong with a man or a woman crying.  In a man, however, inappropriate or increasing crying (or anger) may indicate a testosterone deficiency.  Optimal testosterone levels are absolutely essential to a man’s health – his mind, heart and “bone” in particular.  More on this in the next blog.

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Until next time,

Dr. Gatis