While men are lining up to get their testosterone injections, few doctors are testing their estrogen levels.
Men with even slightly elevated estrogen levels double their risk of stroke, have increased risk of coronary artery disease (1), benign prostatic hypertrophy, and prostate cancer (2).
As it turns out, it is incomplete to test only for testosterone levels in men and then fill the empty tank with testosterone injections. There is a complex balancing act that takes place between the two hormones, testosterone and estrogen.
In a study in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), 501 men with chronic heart failure were measured for levels of estradiol (a type of estrogen). Men with the lowest estradiol levels were 317% more likely to die, while the men with the highest estradiol were 133% more likely to die within 3 years (3).
So, both high and low male estrogen levels present a problem.
Of course, men cannot make estrogens, and therefore must convert testosterone into estrogen. Low testosterone may result in low estrogen levels, but not always. High amounts of the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen, can deplete testosterone levels while raising estrogen levels dangerously high.
We all wish restoring hormonal balance was as easy as reading a blood test and prescribing more of the hormone that tested low – but it is not so!
The risk of testosterone supplementation is that, the more testosterone increases, the higher the risk of converting it into estrogen – which may present an even greater risk than low testosterone.
In Ayurveda, herbs to support natural hormonal function have been prescribed for thousands of years. Most of these herbs were used to bring balance back to a certain biological system, or set of hormones, rather than just to address one hormone or another.
Ashwagandha (also spelled ashwaganda), for example, has been shown to support healthy semen and stress-affected cortisol levels (4). Goksura (also spelled gokshura), another classic Ayurvedic herb for male hormonal support, has been shown to support a healthy libido and male hormone balance (5).
1. Int J Cardiol. 2005 May 11;101(1):105-10
2. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Aug:77(2):375-81
3. JAMA. 2009 May 13;301(18):1892-901
4. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Sep 29. PMID: 19789214
5. J Dent. 2008 Nov;36(11):900-6. Epub 2008 Sep 25. PMID: 12127159