Natural solutions for men’s health concerns include managing lifestyle changes.
Maintaining good health and wellness into old age is a primary goal for virtually all human beings. Some aspects of aging are unavoidable, and for men, some of these issues include decreased testosterone levels, which can affect mood and sex drive, as well as prostate problems. Other issues have to do with lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, and if not managed properly, can lead to more serious health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Natural practitioners can approach these problems from more than one perspective to provide a holistic treatment plan, often as a supplement to traditional medical treatment.
Common Health Concerns
As men age, they share many of the same concerns as women do when it comes to brain/memory health, cardiovascular health, managing acute and chronic pain, and maintaining energy levels. They are also interested in preserving their bones and joints, and have special concerns related to their urogenital health as well as their digestive/metabolic health, said Jessica Filoramo, director of sales at Bio Essence Herbal Essentials, a manufacturer based in California.
Jamie Langston, BSN, RN and chief research officer at LifeSeasons, a manufacturer based in Texas, agreed that cardiovascular health is a chief concern. “According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than one in three adult American men suffer from some form of CVD (cardiovascular disease) with strokes targeting more than three million American men. Risk factors associated with CVD include elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and smoking,” she said.
As men age, they are also concerned with decreased testosterone levels, which can result in andropause. “Andropause is a collection of symptoms including changes in energy levels, attitude, body and a decrease in libido which is attributed to a gradual decline of testosterone. Andropause typically occurs in men between the ages of 40 and 60 and increases as men age,” said Langston.
Other concerns include physical strength, sexual performance and prostate-related issues, such as benign prostate hyperplasia and nocturia, said Cheryl Myers, chief of education and scientific affairs for the Wisconsin-based manufacturer, EuroMedica.
Lifestyle Changes/Natural Approaches
Benjamin Franklin hit the nail on the head a few hundred years ago with his wise words that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially since the cures can come with unwanted side effects. Lifestyle habits, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, go a long way toward prevention of disease. “The best approach to treatment is providing health education and promoting lifestyle change,” said Langston.
“Clearing up lifestyle issues such as excessive alcohol, insomnia and a sedentary lifestyle are important in order to maximize the effectiveness of practitioner-based modalities,” added Frank Ervolino, ND and LAc. Based in Florida, he is also a professional formulator and consultant to the health care industry.
Langston cites weight management, strength training and increasing healthy proteins as some ways in which to naturally increase testosterone, versus going down the testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) road. “However, science is showing this approach is not without some risk, especially when used long term. Some long-risks may include risks of higher cardiovascular problems, strokes and heart disease. There is also a growing concern that TRT could stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. The bottom line is that there is no proof that testosterone therapy will restore physical fitness or sexual function, and it may cause harm,” she added.
A healthy lifestyle is also a key factor in maintaining cardiovascular health, but many people rely on pharmaceuticals or, depending on the problem, surgery. With so many side effects from medications or complications from surgery, however, there is an increasing interest in supplements to pinpoint a variety of health concerns.
Dr. Ervolino, who said he has practiced in a hospital alongside conventional therapies, gave an example of how the two can be combined. “Supplementation can work well with high cholesterol levels associated with heart disease, but so does exercise and dietary modification,” he said.
For major health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, Amber Lynn Vitale, BA, CN, an ayurvedic practitioner and certified nutritionist in New York, said that traditional pharmaceuticals must be prescribed by conventional physicians. But, she said, “These medications will rarely deal with the quality of life symptoms that accompany the disease.” To illustrate, she said, “Surgeries for reduction of obesity are on the rise, but again rarely succeed long term if dietary and lifestyle changes are not implemented and continued. Pharmaceutical prescriptions for depression, anxiety and pain continue to increase, the side effects of which can be devastating and alter life irreversibly. Medications for impotence do not address the underlying issues at all, and in my opinion should not even be considered when big health issues like obesity, diabetes, heart disease or depression are also present.”
Besides diet and exercise, other natural approaches that target general men’s wellness include meditation, yoga and exercise for stress relief.
One natural approach for relieving pain that has been used for many years is acupuncture. However, it should not be done in a vacuum. “Relieving pain is best when approached from a variety of therapeutic modalities. A program of exercise that is specific for pain when coupled with dietary changes, constant movement, acupuncture and the proper supplementation can produce results that rival or exceed conventional care,” said Ervolino.
Vitale is a proponent of complementary therapy with nutrition, activity and supplements. “The end goal would be to eliminate the markers that make the pharmaceutical prescription necessary, and many integrative practitioners out there manage to succeed at that,” she said. Nonetheless, she said, for many patients, it is easier to choose to take a pill than to make lifestyle changes.
“Supplements in convenient forms are tools we can use to turn the tide and gain ground on health, hoping to baby-step the more challenged patients toward positive diet and lifestyle changes,” she said.
State of the Market forSupplements/Ingredients
Even with lifestyle changes, sometimes, an additional boost of good health is warranted.
As the population ages, many are turning to natural remedies for maintenance of good health and solutions for health concerns. This parallels the general increased awareness of overall wellness and the public’s desire to take preventative measure to keep healthy well into older age.
In addition, some ingredients have made it to the forefront of wellness products in the men’s health category.
For bladder health specifically as it relates to prostate pressure, for example, Myers said that the clinically studied Angelica archangelica from Iceland is a highly regarded natural remedy.
Another ingredient that is finding its way into men’s health products is sabal extract, such as saw palmetto, to support prostate symptoms.
Antioxidants have also been in the forefront of natural solutions for years. “Green tea is the biggest boom among natural plants and the demand of products containing green tea is growing since it’s one of the greatest natural sources of antioxidants in the world,” said Benjamin Buadu, COO of Accelerated Intelligence, a manufacturer headquartered in Delaware.
“Zinc and selenium are important cofactors necessary for the proper functioning of endogenous antioxidants, which are very important in the prevention of degenerative diseases,” added Dr. Jorge Enrique Angel, medical advisor to Equisalud Laboratories located in Spain. He added that there are some preclinical studies that give a scientific support to the herbal extract maca for fertility issues.
Langston of LifeSeasons said that there are many herbs that have been shown to support the body’s natural production of testosterone including fenugreek seed extract and longjax root extract, while saw palmetto, Swedish flower pollen, nettle root and Beta-Sitosterol aid in supporting prostate health. “The most important nutrients for testosterone support are vitamin B, D3 and zinc,” said Langston.
Vitale said that the number one supplement that all men need is fiber, which should come from multiple sources, such as acacia, yucca and Jerusalem artichoke, to name a few. “There are many supplements out there to provide prebiotic fiber and resistant starches, and gradually introducing them and increasing the dose over time will make a huge impact in many areas of health and quality of life,” she said.
When supplements are desired, practitioners should take a comprehensive approach when devising a treatment protocol.
“Our approach to health has always been a holistic one, and we know today’s consumers are frustrated with the state of our current health care system. Consumers are looking for personalized, natural and proven alternatives as [a] first step towards better health rather than turning to pharmaceutical drugs,” said Thomas Leatherwood, vice president of business development at LifeSeasons, adding that his company partners with the integrative physician community to provide condition-specific supplements.
Leatherwood cited a 2016 survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, reporting that 65 percent of adult men in the U.S. take dietary supplements, with 37 percent doing so to promote health and wellness. This parallels the rise of the health-conscious consumer across all categories.
Some manufacturers have products specific to men’s wellness.
Bio Essence Herbal Essentials manufactures five products in their men’s health line that address various functions, all of which come in capsule form. For example, Epimedium is designed to help men boost muscle mass as well as support circulation. “The active ingredient icariin, mimics the hormone testosterone to support a healthy sex drive,” said Filoramo. Other products in this line are Kidney Health: KidneyCE, Prostate Health: ProstateCE, Overall Men’s Health: MensHealthCE, and Morinda Root, the latter of which contains rubiadin from the Chinese herbs Radix and Rhizoma rhea, which Filoramo said promotes strong muscles and bones, liver and kidney function, and maintenance of the immune system.
Filoramo said that her company takes an “East meets West” holistic approach when formulating their products. “We formulate products from research and development experts, rigorous material sourcing to ensure highest quality,” she said.
Many of the health conditions addressed by EuroMedica’s products overlap, as they address general health. However, some are specifically geared toward men’s health, such as Bio Active Essentials, Bladder Manager, EurOmega-3 and Vitamin D3 Chewable.
And, although not specifically targeted to men, Myers of EuroMedica would advocate for another one of her company’s products, CuraPro750, containing turmeric essential oil, to be included in a regimen for men because “It is already well known as a cancer fighter. It can stop the multitude of conditions that can lead to prostate cancer: inflammation, oxidation, DNA damage, and the cell signaling that creates the susceptibility to tumors and the spread of the disease,” she said. She added that curcurmin has been studied as having an inhibiting effect on the signals that cause BPH.
Accelerated Intelligence offers several products geared toward men’s health, including RedT, comprised of maca, a root vegetable high in antioxidants and nutrients and targeted as a testosterone booster. “It has been used medicinally for thousands of years and has been shown to enhance sexual health and libido; improve energy, mood and memory; and balance hormone levels,” said Buadu.
Another men-focused Accelerated Intelligence product is Excelerol, which includes peppermint and green tea to support brain function, physical performance as well as provide a source of antioxidants.
The best-selling men’s health supplement at LifeSeasons is Masculini-T for testosterone support; its five key ingredients include tribulus, fenugreek seed, longjax, Muira puama and maca. Two other LifeSeasons products that target men’s wellness are Nitro-T, a nitric oxide supplement to assist in healthy blood circulation, and Pros-T for prostate health.
Patient One, a manufacturer based in New York, offers Prostate FA Plus to promote prostate and urinary tract health as well as reproductive wellness. The capsules contain liquid saw palmetto, designed to inhibit the enzyme activity that is associated with prostate problems. “Research supports that liquid saw palmetto supplements, when compared to powders, tinctures and dried berries, contained significantly higher concentrations of fatty acids and phytosterols—key bioactive components of saw palmetto,” said Vice President Kathy McIntee.
Another manufacturer that uses saw palmetto to support the prostate is Equisalud, specifically, its HoloRam line of supplements.
HoloRam Drenuril is a dietary supplement that contributes to the organic processes involved in the bio-regulation of imbalances such as inflammation, oxidative damage, and immune and endocrine alterations, which Dr. Angel refers to as “… factors that can influence the onset of prostatitis and prostatic hyperplasia. HoloRam Drenuril can help to support the treatment in the control of urethritis, cystitis, urinary retention, and subsequent urinary tract infections.” Its main component is saw palmetto (sabal dried extract), along with several others like cranberry dried extract, maca dried extract; certain antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta carotene; and trace elements, such as zinc gluconate, selenium and copper gluconate.
Dr. Ervolino said that he trusts and recommends products made by American BioSciences, a manufacturer based in New York, to address various men’s health issues, such as Metatrol Pro, a fermented wheat germ extract that is super concentrated, to help regulate cellular metabolism and support optimal immune system function, as well as HP8, an anti-inflammatory that is specific to the prostate to help alleviate urinary frequency. Dr. Ervolino refers to Metrtrol Pro as “… the most cutting-edge supplement that a practitioner could use today for mitochondrial rescue, cellular metabolism regulation, to help autoimmune conditions. What makes it so unique is that it is produced by microbial fermentation, which is a method used in biotech pharma, so it is really cutting-edge. And even though it’s made from wheat germ, it’s gluten free.”
He added that as sleep is the cornerstone of good health and must be addressed before any other treatments have their desired effects, he also likes the company’s SleepSolve 24/7, a hormonal sleep formula using Chinese herbs.
Selling Supplements In-house
For those practitioners who offer supplements at their offices, some manufacturers provide merchandising and marketing assistance. LifeSeasons, for example, will provide product samples, informational posters and brochures.
EuroMedica considers itself as being a partner with practitioners, and the company provides support with frequent webinars on a wide variety of health topics, followed by a Q&A session and clinical summaries about their products.
Bio Essence Herbal Essentials provides its dietary supplements and single herbs and formulas to acupuncturists. “We decided to go into this market because it is a big area of opportunity to help improve upon men’s health,” said Filoramo.
Citing statistics from the Nutrition Business Journal, Leatherwood pointed out that practitioner sales of supplements directly to consumers have grown 7.8 percent in 2016. “With additional avenues for consumer access, and as new research emerges about men’s health products, we can expect to see this category continue to rise in quality and range of products as well as profitability,” he said. He also added that brand transparency is important, and that for those practitioners who do provide supplements in-house, they should ask the manufacturers about the ingredients, such as where they were sourced, studies, etc.
To determine which products should be sold, Myers advised that practitioners should provide those that best reflect their patient demographic needs. “They may also want to zero in on just those nutrients that have a large body of supporting studies to back them up. Patient compliance to a protocol is much easier when they feel assured of the product’s efficacy going in, rather than starting a regimen with a ‘Well, I’ll see if this works’ attitude. Being able to point to evidence is a great advantage for a treatment plan,” she said.
Communication and truly listening to your patients’ concerns goes a long way. In fact, as Myers pointed out, sharing data and studies with male patients can help convince them of the efficacy of a supplement or of a specific piece of wellness advice.
Before incorporating natural supplements into their patient protocols, Vitale recommended that practitioners carefully look at all causative factors, find out what they have in common, and address that directly, rather than the “Plug and Play” approach. “Plug and Play should be used when there is a life-threatening need, or a temporary concerning deficiency, but plugging cracks in the dam doesn’t fix the structural integrity that is failing and causing the cracks,” she said.
Dr. Ervolino noted that practitioners should continually study medicine by “… keeping up with research, remembering and brushing up on their physiology and make changes in their treatment protocols that reflect the advancement of knowledge. While natural medicine does contain many traditional remedies, there are new uses, resources and knowledge available that can enhance their healing abilities.”
Healthy Take Aways:
• Predominant men’s health concerns include prostate issues, low testosterone and cardiovascular health.
• Practitioners should discuss lifestyle changes with patients and try to incorporate those solutions into a treatment protocol.
• Natural ingredients utilized for specific men’s wellness issues include saw palmetto, maca and zinc.
For More Information:
Accelerated Intelligence, www.acceleratedintelligence.org
American BioSciences, www.americanbiosciences.com
Bio Essence Herbal Essentials, https://herbs.bioessence.com
Equisalud Laboratories, www.equisalud.com
Patient One, www.patientoneformulas.com