Understanding the Root Causes of Low Testosterone
Posted by Ryan Wade on Sep 20, 2010
With the increased awareness of—and attention to—symptoms of low testosterone in men comes the reclassification of these symptoms with the possible root cause of them being just that: Low testosterone. That is, certain common diseases in men are now being seen as the result of low testosterone . ) in men is the reclassification by medical professionals of the root cause of the symptoms.
Previously, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease were seen primarily as, and as the result of, chronic disease. However, medicine is now implicating low testosterone as the cause of these conditions.
As focus changes to view these diseases as symptoms of low testosterone levels then with chronic illness, naturally an increase in attention to testosterone and testosterone replacement therapy naturally followed.
In addition to the normal effects of aging, certain conditions can result in low testosterone, medically defined as testosterone values falling below the 300 ng/dl threshold (many disagree with this cut-off, citing it as disastrously low).
According to WebMD and UCLA, conditions which can result in low testosterone levels are:
Relevant to this discussion here is not those diseases which can result in diminished testosterone, but how diminished testosterone can actually cause—and drive—disease. Low testosterone has been implicated in contributing to the following:
- Endothelial dysfunction;
- Impaired left ventricular function;
- Increased blood pressure;
A New York Times article, in referencing the relationship between high estrogen levels in men and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, writes that:
“Estrogen, the female sex hormone, turns out to play a much bigger role in men’s bodies than previously thought, and falling levels contribute to their expanding waistlines just as they do in women’s. The discovery of the role of estrogen in men is 'a major advance,' said Dr. Peter J. Snyder, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who is leading a big new research project on hormone therapy for men 65 and over. Until recently, testosterone deficiency was considered nearly the sole reason that men undergo the familiar physical complaints of midlife."
Stress, Inflammation, and Hypogonadism
To this list I personally would add chronic stress and inflammation.
Chronic stress and inflammation is the underlying cause of many common chronic diseases and it works cyclically to exacerbate disease. Stress and inflammation have a very damaging effect on the body, and I believe hypogonadism (low testosterone) to be one of the symptoms of ongoing, constant stress (and inflammation) in the body.
While I tend to focus on the wide spectrum of nutrients‚amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and the like—found in Pine Pollen. The majority of attention paid to this herb is because of its androgenic effects: the Pro-Androgenic it contains, including Phyto-Androgenic plant sterols.
Throughout the history of Chinese medicine, Pine Pollen has been used as an addition to the diet as people age, because of its anti-aging qualities. Today we are learning both that some of those anti-aging qualities have to do with the phyto-androgens present in Pine Pollen, and that some of what we consider to be signs of aging are actually just symptoms of low testosterone. So while Pine Pollen has a lot more to offer than just phyto-androgens, it is important to keep Pine Pollen in the forefront of our minds when we are thinking about low testosterone and the aging body. Pine Pollen is also anti-inflammatory, adding another beneficial and interesting level to the overall relationship between testosterone, stress and inflammation, and Pine Pollen.
In conclusion, it is important to note that while disease can contribute to or cause low testosterone, we also need to start viewing chronic stress and chronic inflammation as a disease state before they cause more serious, harder to treat diseases (cancer, diabetes, cardiac vascular disease), of which their role and relationship is already well documented. Furthermore, because the diseases caused by stress and inflammation can cause low testosterone (hypogonadism), we need to start looking at stress and inflammation in their own right as being the cause of low testosterone, not merely a stepping stone to a disease that does. By mitigating and healing the stress it is possibly to let testosterone levels raise naturally.