What is Low Testosterone Trying to Tell You?
Posted by Ryan Wade on May 04, 2014
What is Low Testosterone Trying to Tell You?
As we have mentioned previously, low testosterone—and the symptoms that accompany it—are often the result of driving the body too hard and for too long. There are many ways to talk about this, from burnout to chronic stress to adrenal fatigue/disorders to heat and Jing depletion, but the results are all the same: the body is worn out and is aging more quickly than it should be.
In short, the way that many of us live our lives results in premature aging accompanied by low testosterone.
What we are referring to here is the “more is better” mentality that so many of us have. People tend to work too hard, to play too hard, to eat too much, to achieve too much…and the list goes on and on. What people don’t tend to do is to find balance within this paradigm of expansion (the belief that bigger is better and that continued growth is not just preferred but necessary). Living a life of excess creates a lot of detrimental stress—mentally and physically—in the body.
Overwork and Stress is Causing Low Testosterone
Stress, as we all know, causes premature aging. The more stress you have the more aging you have. Stress even shortens the telomeres on the ends of your chromosomes.
As the attributes we value in this system start to fade within us, we—people—are naturally drawn to substances which promote those attributes. Tired? Drink more coffee. Still tired? Drink an energy drink. And we see this in herbalism too. As people get worn down, they look to the highly simulating herbs, such as Deer Antler, Cordyceps, Chinese Ginseng, and the like (commonly referred to as the Yang tonics). It is understandable why we are attracted to these herbs, they possess what we see as lacking, and because a life of excess is the only life we have ever known, we want to prop that way of being up any way we can. In this case, Like attracts Like.
But, the fundamental question is: Is this the appropriate response? Should we seek out stimulating herbs to stimulate a body that is becoming worn down? Will they help us achieve our goals? To this, let’s refer to the title of this post: What is Low Testosterone Trying to Tell You? While I value the Western science of pathology and medicine, I find it equally important to try and understand what illness if trying to teach us. This comes from my own experience with Lyme Disease. Looking back, I can see how I invited the illness, how it served a purpose, and how I benefited from that purpose. These are not necessarily easy questions to ask one ’s self, but they are necessarily important ones—especially for moving past disease and illness.
What is Low Testosterone a Symptom Of?
For most, low testosterone is a syndrome of a life that is too highly stressed (see our post on Secondary Hypogonadism). This comes from living in a cycle of the need for and pressure of constant achievement. This cycle really permeates our culture and it is very difficult to not be affected by it. It is like water to a fish. For many adults, the pressure to achieve has become very entrenched in the psyche, to the point where we believe it is what we want. We do not see that really what we’re looking for are fundamental human needs of love, acceptance, and safety—and that many of the capitalistic pursuits have been co-opted in the guise of these basic, fundamental human needs.
As the drive for constant economic growth creates economic recessions and depressions, and the constant burning of fossil fuels creates global warming and climate change, so does constant growth in our own lives—in this case it leads to premature aging (what we call Heat excess in Chinese medicine). We do not need to reject growth and run in the opposite direction—in fact, far from it—but we do need to understand where that pressure comes from and find balance within in. The drive to achieve has largely become a pathology. Growth and expansion has its place.
Ask the Hard Questions
For treating low testosterone, for reversing hypogonadism, the root cause needs to be addressed. This is true in herbs as it is true with pharmaceutical drugs (unless you are trying to bypass the anatomy of the body and seek to use hormone replacement therapy). In conventional medicine, a group of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM) can be used to reverse secondary and—in some cases—even primary hypogonadism (there are herbal equivalents, like Tonkgat Ali and possibly Pine Pollen). But these drugs only work successfully when the illness that caused the hypogonadism is resolved prior to treatment.
For most, however, there is not a specific disease to look to. Instead, it is our over-driven lives that have caused us to become so worn down that the process for producing testosterone has become negatively affected. This is why it is so important to ask and answer the question: What is low testosterone trying to tell you? Remember, I am not advocating people shirk off all the pressures of Western civilization, but I am advocating balance and in understanding where the pressure has come from to have resulted in so much stress in life. If one’s lifestyle has led to burn out (which has caused low testosterone), balance needs to be achieved if there is hope in gaining back that level of lost vitality. Balance is one of the most difficult things to find in life. I am not pretending that it is easy.
Finding a Permanent Solution
One these hard questions have begun to be asked, unpacked, and answered, herbs can be used to build back up that lost vitality. But not the Like attracts Like herbs. What are needed are the most restorative Yin herbs, not the stimulatory Yang herbs. This is why we developed our TapRoot formula—is it made specifically for all our customers who struggle to find balance in an overworked, burnt out life. It is a master formulated blend of restorative herbs, not stimulatory herbs. Taking the route of restoration, people have more energy, more drive, and more desire using our TapRoot formula than they do using the stimulating Yang herbs like Deer Antler, Cordyceps, Chinese Ginseng, and others. And these effects are long lasting. That is because when balance is sought and stressors are removed, the body begins to heal itself. But the important message to take home is not which herbs are best, but that it is vitally important to understand and adequately address our illness: What is this set of symptoms trying to tell (teach) me.
More than ever, we need to learn to listen to our bodies and be responsive to the needs of it. My goal is that we do not come to herbs seeing them as a Band-aid, but as allies in becoming better people—the people we are deep inside.