The recognition of andropause, the middle-age stage in male development comparable to women's menopause, is hampered by the lack of a clear out-ward manifestation of the chemistry and physiology specific to aging men. Men are still capable of reproduction well into and beyond middle age. Yet a man's sexual desire and potency varies, often according to his testosterone level. Recent studies show that the lowered testosterone levels endemic in aging men-a gradual drop that is quite normal-are being exacerbated by environ-mental agents. Testosterone-blocking estrogen agents are present in insecticides, industrial materials, pharmaceuticals, and foods. Men are daily inundated with a "cocktail" of estrogen agents that alter the fine balance of testosterone that makes them male. But as recent medical research has revealed, testosterone replacement therapy with Low T drugs is not a good option because of the increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack and stroke, and because the body can become dependent on pharmaceutical testosterone and stop producing any on its own.
In this updated edition of The Natural Testosterone Plan, Stephen Harrod Buhner shows why men need help to maintain their testosterone levels as they age and explains how naturally occurring phytoandrogens-plant medicines that contain male hormones-can safely remedy the depletion exerted by the environment. Buhner details how each phytoandrogen works, when its use is indicated, and the most appropriate method of application, providing 411 men with safe, natural, and effective means of maintaining optimum testosterone levels well into old age.
STEPHEN HARROD BUHNER is the senior researcher for the foundation for Gaian Studies. He is the award-winning author of 20 books, including Healing lyme, Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections, Herbal Antibiotics, The Secret Teachings of Plants, and Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm. He has taught for more than 30 years throughout North America and Eurpoe on herbal medicine, the sacredness of plant and the intelligence of nature. He lives in Silver city, New Mexico.
I am unsure why it is that noticing the obvious is so difficult, why seeing what is right in front of us is so hard-yet it always has been something I struggle with. For example, I had long known that many plants were useful for helping women moderate their hormone levels during meno-pause. More specifically, I knew that many plants contained estrogenic compounds. Hops, the most potent of them, contains large quantities of estradiol-for women's bodies what testosterone is generally considered to be for ours. Nevertheless, for two decades (1983 to 2002), it never occurred to me to ask, "Are there any plants that contain testosterone?" That is, it didn't occur to me until my body began the movement from young adulthood into middle age, the moment when I first experienced andropause, an experience for men similar to what menopause is for women.
Since adolescence, I had never questioned my sexual vitality. It just was, like the sun and the rain. Suddenly, my libido dropped precipitously. Erections became problematic. The male equivalent of hysteria testeria) emerged as a daily companion. (Hyster comes from a word root that means "womb," hence hysterectomy meaning womb removal or hysteria-overly excited womb.) So, I began to research what was happening to me. I soon discovered something that a few researchers and doctors were calling andropause. (Many other physicians, of course, insist that there is no such thing, despite the contrary experience of many of their patients. Inevitably this leads me to a number of obvious questions about those doctors, none of which I will share here.) During a man's shift into middle age, the research revealed, the level of free (not bound) testosterone in most men's bodies begins to decline. So, a number of doctors treat the condition by prescribing pharmaceutical testosterone, which does in fact raise testosterone levels and significantly reduces the accompanying problems. It was at that moment, finally, that the obvious question emerged. "Are there any plants that contain testosterone?"
Astonishingly enough, no one in the natural medicine world, prior to that moment, had (apparently) asked that question. Certainly, no one had written anything about it. Nor did anyone seem to know of any plants that would increase testosterone levels similarly to the way pharmaceuticals did. Everyone, of course, had written, ad nauseum, about ginseng as an important herb for men. Ginseng does contain some androgenic compounds and can help during andropause, but it is not suitable for testosterone replacement. It is more of a male tonic herb than a hormone replacement herb. For what I wanted to accomplish, I needed something that contained testosterone itself and enough of it that it would work for hormone replacement. And so the search began. Inevitably, it turned out that there are indeed many plants that contain testosterone, chemically identical to the testosterone in our bodies. The (obvious) reason is that these compounds are ubiquitous in nature as hormone regulators for all split gender organisms. This includes plants. (There is a reason why so many plants contain estrogenic com-pounds. It is just that it never occurred to any of us to ask what the reason was.) These hormonal compounds predate our species' emergence by hundreds of millions of years. So, yes, testosterone is in plants, it is just that no one in the herbal world, for reasons I cannot fathom, ever thought to look for it.
Ultimately, it turned out that there was one plant on earth (no doubt there are others) that was loaded with testosterone. In fact, in comparison to our body's natural levels, it contains huge quantities of it. (It contains a number of other potent androgenic compounds as well, again identical to those in our bodies.) That plant is the pine tree, most especially its pollen.
Despite the fact that pine pollen has been used in Asia (primarily Korea, China, and Japan) for thousands of years and despite the eagerness of many American herbalists for using traditional Chinese medicines, no one had ever (apparently) thought to bring that particular plant to our continent. Finding some for my use was a bit difficult, but I was testerical so find it I did. Once obtained, I tinctured it and began to use it as medicine. Within a few days, my andropausal symptoms began to decline and ultimately disappeared.
I am a writer (an obsession since childhood), so I began work on a book about natural testosterone and men's health. It was ultimately titled (badly, by the publisher) Vital Man (Avery, 2003), and, unlike my other books, immediately went out of print. As I always do, before suggesting an herb in something I am writing, I actively tried to find someone who could provide it. Some dear friends in upper New York state, Kate Gilday and Don Babineau, who had a small herb business (Woodland Essence) agreed to collect the pollen from their trees and make it into a tincture for sale to the public. (They also began to grow David's lily, discussed in a moment, but it proved too difficult for the climate.)
Regrettably, due to the book's quick demise, only a few people (which fortunately included some knowledgeable physicians) ever read the thing. The tincture that Kate and Don made was in fact a very good one and did sell moderately well for them-but only in dribbles and bits. Pine pollen tincture, as a testosteronic concept, continued to linger in some sort of photo-purgatory. Then, in 2007, Healing Arts Press agreed to reissue the first five chapters of Vital Man as The Natural Testosterone Plan. For some reason, known only to small children and puppies, when the book came out, pine pollen just took off. The raw food movement discovered it and people such as Daniel Vitalis began touting its virtues and suddenly everyone seemed to be interested in it. In a short period of time a large number of YouTube videos were uploaded, showing anyone who was interested how to harvest and prepare pine pollen. And suddenly here we were, pine pollen a part of the American pharmacopeia of herbal medicine. Finally.
Over the past decade, I have heard from hundreds of men (and their wives) who have used pine pollen for andropausal problems, including low libido and erectile dysfunction. All have reported how well it works for them. It works as well as, and in my opinion better than, pharmaceutical testosterone. Importantly, it does not possess the same side effects that pharmaceutical testosterone does (also discussed a bit in the book). To be fair, however, despite my continued warnings that the herb is not for bodybuilders, or those in their twenties, a number of body builders have insisted on using the tincture in large quantities (an ounce at a time, several times a day) in their fixation on becoming a modern-day Hercules. They began to report (on the Internet) testes shrinkage, one of the side effects of pharmaceutical testosterone. So, yes it does work, and no it is not for bodybuilders or for use by young men, and no you really should not take it an ounce at a time.
You will notice that I mention another testosterone-containing herb in this book, David's lily. It is a much more difficult herb to grow and to prepare for use; it is still not available. Despite my hopes that younger herbalists would begin to take the study of testosterone-containing herbs further, that has not happened. (Perhaps you are the one who will.) Still, pine pollen is tremendously abundant. Pine trees make tons of it (liter-ally) every year.
And yes, before you ask, I still take it every day and have since 2002. As I enter the early stages of old age I find my free testosterone levels falling ever lower, necessitating an increase in dosage. Even at this time in my life, it continues to work well, keeping my testosterone levels, and my sexual vitality, high. (Only the tincture works for this by the way, for reasons I discuss in the book.) I am pretty sure that, if you are suffering low testosterone levels, it will help you, too. You don't, however, need to shout out during sex (as one couple recently told me), "Thank you, Stephen Buhner. Thank you!" You can just, quietly, go on with your life, testosterone levels high.
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