In This Article
The Phthalate-Testosterone Connection
In the past 50 years, researchers have mapped a steady decline in testosterone levels in both men and women. The health consequences are disturbing and go far beyond losing muscles and sex drive. Declines in testosterone have been linked to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals called phthalates, found in many plastics and personal care products.
In this article, I’ll explore the associated health risks of testosterone deficiency, as well as some natural strategies to reverse this deficiency and protect against this modern wave of chemical toxicity.
Phthalates are everywhere and difficult to avoid. They’re found in hundreds of products, including vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, soaps, perfumes, shampoos, and hair sprays. As phthalate levels have risen in recent decades, testosterone levels have declined. A recent review on both animal and human studies found mounting evidence that supports the link between chronic depletion of testosterone and rising phthalate exposure.
Researchers found that phthalate concentrations were associated with a 10 to 24 percent decline in testosterone among women ages 40-60. Among boys ages 6-12, increased concentrations of phthalates were linked to a 24 to 34 percent drop in testosterone.
The Health Consequences of Testosterone Deficiency and Phthalate Exposure
Testosterone levels start to drop naturally in men around 30, and in women after 40. Testosterone deficiency can impact your health in surprising ways:
There is no shortage of studies that link all cause mortality, or dying from any cause, and low testosterone. In one study or more than 11,000 men, study subjects with low testosterone were at a greater risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. In a 2022 study, phthalate exposures were associated with mortality from all causes, and especially cardiovascular events.
In another 2022 study phthalate exposure was linked to cognitive decline as measured by immediate and delayed recall. In a research review of 5,000 elderly men, researchers found that low testosterone was associated with a 48 percent increased risk of developing cognitive decline compared to those with normal testosterone levels.
In a 2021 research review of 27 studies, researchers came to a similar conclusion and found that testosterone supplementation supported healthy motor and cognitive function in those with low testosterone.
In the first of it’s kind study, in 2020 researchers linked phthalate exposure to increased risk of cognitive decline later in life.
Bone Density Issues
Age-related bone density issues are a concern for both men and women. While there are many factors at play, studies have found that those with higher levels of testosterone have greater bone density, and those with lower levels of testosterone have less bone density.
In one study of nearly 400 post-menopausal women, researchers screened for 11 different phthalate metabolites in urine samples. The greater the phthalate levels, the increased risk there was of bone mineral density health concerns.
If you have not heard about metabolic syndrome yet, you have surely heard of its health consequences. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased belly fat, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high triglycerides. Any three of these is a cause for concern. Metabolic syndrome affects 25 percent of the adult population and is on the rise. Numerous studies have linked low testosterone levels to increased risk of developing any of the criteria of metabolic syndrome.
In a study that followed a group on almost 3,000 men and women, researchers tested for five phthalates metabolites and found, once again, the more exposure to phthalates, the greater the risk of getting metabolic syndrome.
Could unwanted weight be caused by rising levels of chemical exposure? In a research review of 27 studies, there was a general association between obesity levels and phthalate exposure. Low testosterone, which is one of the know side effects of phthalate exposure, has been linked to gaining weight, particularly around the belly. Other studies have found that abdominal fat distribution, high insulin, and blood glucose levels are correlated with low testosterone.
High Blood Sugar
Epidemiological studies consistently demonstrate that low testosterone is not only common in men with established type 2 diabetes, but also predicts future diabetic risks and increased mortality. Low testosterone levels are also linked to insulin resistance, causing high blood sugar levels. In another study, researchers found that testosterone supplementation supports healthy blood sugar and testosterone levels.
High Blood Pressure
In a study of more than 1,400 women, researchers found a direct correlation between low testosterone levels and high blood pressure.
High Triglycerides and Low HDL
In a study of more than 1,000 middle-aged men, researchers found a direct relationship between high triglycerides, low HDL levels, and low testosterone.
Phthalate exposure was positively associated with the risk of depressive symptoms in the elderly population in at least one study. In a separate meta analysis, researchers found a strong correlation between men with low testosterone and depression. In another meta analysis of more than 1,500 men, researchers found that testosterone replacement therapy was successful at addressing depressive symptoms.
See also Why Women Need Testosterone
Boost Testosterone Ayurvedically
Recent studies have confirmed that two Ayurvedic herbs (shilajit and Malaysian ginseng) balance testosterone levels in both men and women. One study evaluated 35 infertile males who took the equivalent of 1 capsule of LifeSpa’s Testosterone Boost for 90 days. At the end of the study, 28 subjects had significant improvements in sperm count and their testosterone levels rose by an average of 23 percent.
In the same study, sperm from subjects shilajit had less oxidative stress and contained small amounts of the herb, suggesting shilajit played an active role in these reproductive changes.
Most testosterone is bound to a protein called the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). This bound form of testosterone is inactive, as it is already bound up and occupied. Both shilajit and Malaysian ginseng have been found to boost free testosterone.
Eurycoma longifolia root (Malaysian ginseng) is considered a tonic and adaptogen for supporting healthy libido, energy, sports performance, and weight management by promoting healthy testosterone levels.
The LJ100 patented form of Eurycoma longifolia in LifeSpa’s Testosterone Boost is a root extract whose safety and efficacy is backed by at least 12 human clinical studies.
A randomized, placebo-controlled, two-month study with 20 volunteers ages 38–58 who consumed LJ100 showed improvement in sexual desire and performance.
In summary, it appears the combination of shilajit and Malaysian ginseng support healthy free testosterone levels in men and women, which, in turn, supports vitality, virility, and vigor.
Protect Yourself from Environmental Pollutants
According to Ayurveda, there are two basic strategies to protect the body from harmful toxic material—seasonal detoxification and strong digestion. To troubleshoot your digestive system, download our free Troubleshoot Your Digestion ebook.
The cleansing programs at LifeSpa have been well-studied. Based on a process called lipophilic mediated detoxification, Ayurveda uses ghee as a detox agent to attach to fat soluble environmental toxic material. In one study, a cleanse of ghee and kitchari was found to lower levels of PCBs by 48 percent and pesticides by 58 percent. At LifeSpa, we have three Ayurvedic cleanses to choose from:
The Short Home Cleanse —a 4-day entry level cleanse
The Colorado Ayurvedic Cleanse – a 14-day detox, digestive reset, lymph, liver and intestinal lining cleanse
Kaya Kalpa Cleanse–an advanced 5-day cleanse