Natural strategies for male health
For centuries, herbs have been used to keep a healthy balance of Yang and Yin energy in men so that they could function as efficiently as their minds and bodies were intended. Male Yang energy, which must include some Yin energy to remain balanced, is generally considered heat energy that is connected to the Sun, to energy moving outward, to practical tangible reality. When Yang energy is in balance, it functions magnificently in physical action, in practical problem-solving, in sexual and other creative performance, in activities that require the "sending out" of energy. When it is not in balance, excessive Yang conditions, in both men and women, can usually be recognized by excessive sweating and heat, overly loud voice, aggressive behavior, constipation, yelling, high blood pressure, dry skin eruptions, and, in the worst circumstances, abusive behavior. When Yang energy is weakened, and there is excessive Yin energy present, the symptoms are more likely to manifest in liquidy conditions such as mucus, sinus problems, oozing skin problems, watery eyes, post nasal drips...in feelings of weepiness or depression, in weak voices, etc.
In Chinese medical practice, herbs and foods with cool energies, such as Yarrow or cucumbers are used to neutralize excessive Yang energy, and heating drying herbs and food, such as fenugreek, cardamom, ginseng are used to provide more Yang energy and correct too much Yin energy. Always, the goal is to maintain balance, both within the universe and within our own bodies. Adjustments need to be made slowly in correcting the balance of energy.
Healthy emotional outlets
It is essential for healthy Yang energy that all emotions get properly vented or expressed, so that they don't build up like steam within a pressure cooker until they either explode in high blood pressure or cardiac problems or harden into "stones" or calcium deposits or other abnormal growths, or in rageful abuse upon oneself or others. We now know that it is essential to give "expression" to all our emotions, because in so doing, we release their energy and allow our own energy to be renewed. "Voicing" or "expressing" all our emotions, from love to anger to sadness, can be done by telling somebody about them, by making a tape expressing them, by making lists which might begin with the words, "I am angry because...", by releasing physical energy through appropriately powerful activity, by drinking plenty of pure, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated cool or warm liquids, by going out into the fresh air...especially the cold air during wintertime, by allowing the body to move in ways that "feel" as though the correct energy is being expressed, by listening to music that appropriately expresses the emotions we feel, etc. The opposite of "expressing" is "repressing" or "suppressing" our emotional energy, and when any of our emotional energies are held back too long, all our energies tend to stagnate, and we risk falling into the condition of weakened life-energy known as "depression" and, possibly, dis-ease.
Herbs and foods to consider for male health
- Astragalus - popular Chinese herb that acts as an energizer for physical activity as well as a tonic for the immune system.
- Calcium/Magnesium- maintains healthy bones and bone density and stabilizes the nervous system.
- Cayenne - a good general stimulant to the heart and circulation when taken internally. Provides relief from arthritic and muscle pain and inflammation when applied in a salve externally.
- Cleavers - a well-documented blood cleanser, along with Dandelion root, Red Clover, Barberry, Oregon Grape. Relieves painful urination.
- Corn silk - a demulcent that soothes the internal membranes.
- Cucumber seeds - aids in benign prostate problems.
- Damiana - acts as a tonic (nourisher) for the nervous system. May contribute to a feeling of contentment and well being. Considered a sexual stimulant and therefore able to improve sexual performance, especially in males who are suffering emotional stress.
- Echinacea - an adaptogenic which empowers the immunity system and helps fight diseases caused by bacteria or viruses.
- Fo ti (Chinese name: Ho Shou Wu) used for impotence, infertility, premature ejaculation, premature senility. Is believed to tone blood and improve sperm count.
- Garlic - An all-around powerhouse...good for a healthy heart, lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood pressure, eliminating fungus problems, empowering immunity system.
- Ginger - a good heart/blood circulation stimulant. Especially recommended for arthritic and joint problems. Also excellent for eliminating nausea.
- Ginko Biloba - a vasodilator that increases circulation in the head. Said to be effective for improved memory, tinitis, hair loss, academic learning.
- Ginseng (Siberian or Korean) - the famed adaptogenic that equalizes physical and nervous energies. Helps deal with physical/emotional stress. Considered an anti-aging factor that improves libido.
- Gravel root - used to eliminate gravel or stones.
- Hawthorne Berries - good for general circulation. Stabilizes blood pressure problems, coronary/artery disease, lowers heart rate, stabilizes cardiac rhythm, strengthens contractions of the heart so aids in circulation.
- Hydrangea root - Helps remove and ease the passage of gravelly deposits from the urinary passage.
- Licorice - helps other herbs interact more effectively. A demulcent that soothes inner membranes, and calms stress.
- Pumpkin Seeds - rich in vitamins, oils, minerals, especially zinc which is effective in the treatment of enlarged prostate...especially when taken in conjunction with echinacea.
- Sarsaparilla - an excellent blood purifier which has been used to treat tuberculosis, venereal diseases, promotes sweating to reduce fevers. Possible progesterone precursor.
- Saw Palmetto Berries - prevents senescence and middle-aged sense of weakness. Improves sexual performance especially in males, used for urinary tract and noncancerous prostate problems. Considered an aphrodisiac. Used for benign prostate enlargement and infection.
- Sesame seeds and food products - a warming food. Acts as a general energy and sexual energy tonic. Can improve circulation.
- Siberian Ginseng - increases energy and vitality. Permits longer periods of energetic activity before tiring.
- Squash seeds - same as pumpkin seeds. From same genus, cucurbitaceae.
- Uva Ursi - helps eliminate stones from bladder and kidneys and treat bladder and kidney infections, especially effective when taken with marshmallow root. Because it strengthens and nourishes the urinary tract and is useful when there is blood present in the urine, it is a primary herb for many conditions of the urinary tract.
- Vitamin E - among its many capacities, Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protects the red blood cells, retards the aging process, has been considered in treatment of sterility, impotency, decreased libido, heart disease.
- Watercress - diuretic, rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, iodine, and calcium. Used in treating many conditions, including rheumatism, debilitating weakness, and gall bladder problems.
- Watermelon/ watermelon seed juice - helps with diminished urination, acts as a demulcent to coat internal sensitive membranes.
- Wild Yam - relaxes and soothes nerves and in treatment of rheumatic pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Zinc - used in treatment of enlarged prostate.
Suggested holistic strategies for male health
To increase libido and fertility
The following herbs have long been considered aphrodisiacs: ginseng, plantain, English walnut, fenugreek, jasmine, saffron, savory and saw palmetto.
Other herbs presently believed to improve sexual performance and fertility include Damiana, Saw Palmetto, Siberian Ginseng. Traditionally, Chinese treatment of infertility also includes the use of Schizandra, which is a warming herb that is said to relieve sexual fatigue, increase sexual fluids and "staying power", develop a basic energy of life. Because it is believed to tone both Yin and Yang energy, and contains five basic "flavors" (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter), each of which serves its own health purpose, it is considered, among Chinese Tonics, to contain the "quintessence" of the elemental energies, according to Ron Teeguarden, in his book Chinese Tonic Herbs.
Note: Although the following suggestions are presented as tisanes (teas), most of the herbs are also available as capsules, tinctures, and already-combined tea bags.
Sexual Performance/Physical Energy Tea
Mix equal parts Damiana leaf, ground Siberian Ginseng root, dried Echinacea leaf, and Cinnamon Bark. Using a total of 1 teaspoon of the mix to each cup of water, simmer the Ginseng and Cinnamon in pure water, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain and pour the liquid over the Damiana and Echinacea, cover, and steep for another 10 minutes. Add a little honey for flavor, if you wish. It is suggested that you make at least a quart at a time, which means using a total of 4 teaspoons of herbs all together, (1 of each herb) to 4 cups of water, adding an extra quarter of a cup for evaporation during the simmering.
Aromatherapy: Essential oils of Jasmine, Sandalwood, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang have long been noted for the aphrodisiac effect of their aromas. Use a few drops on a diffuser or in a massage oil such as Apricot Kernel Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, or even good quality Olive Oil.
Make an infusion of 1 teaspoon Hawthorn berries or flowers, l teaspoon Linden flowers, 1 teaspoon Motherwort leaves, 1/2 teaspoon Rosemary leaves, 1/2 teaspoon Yarrow flowers steeped, covered, in 1 quart of boiled water. Steep for 10 minutes and strain. Add honey to taste and a tiny pinch (or as much as you can comfortably tolerate) of cayenne powder. Suggested dose is 1/2 cup, 3 times a day. Store in a thermos for the day, or refrigerate. Use refrigerated tea within 3 days.
Kidney and gallstones
Using dried herbs, steep 1 teaspoon Gravelroot, 1 teaspoon Uva ursi, 1 teaspoon Marshmallow root and/or leaf, and 1 teaspoon Cornsilk , covered, in 1 quart of boiled water. Steep for 10 minutes and strain. Add honey to taste and a TINY PINCH of cayenne powder. Suggested dose is 1/2 cup, 3 times a day. Store in a thermos for the day, or refrigerate. Use refrigerated tea within 3 days.
Empowering male energy in today's world
Many men today seem to be having difficulty exercising their Yang energy in appropriate ways, perhaps as a result of sedentary jobs, the move toward greater sensitivity, suburban or urban living, or taking on a greater number of domestic chores without balancing this with appropriate large-movement expression, and this is a major health concern. It is essential that our new understanding of expressing healthy male "sensitivity" not damage the expression of essential normal and magnificent male energy. Lack of balance between the two is, perhaps, one of the causes of the infertility problem that so many young marrieds are coping with today. I also believe that the giving up of red meat protein in the diet, without the knowledge of how to replace it with other yang foods, may be causing a kind of yang starvation. Small quantities of red meat and/or dairy, (unless medically counterindicated or against moral conviction) eaten occasionally, often provides necessary strength and endurance to the blood and the entire energy system, although eaten too frequently, may result in blood congestion, irritability, aggressive behavior, constipation, and even toxicity. If one is following a vegetarian regime, it is essential to provide enough warming, yang energy through the consumption of foods like mustard greens, dates, black beans, pine nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, sesame seeds, onion, garlic, winter squash, and kale. In the Chinese health practices, different foods and herbs are recognized for their "heating" Yang capability or their cooling Yin capability, and they are helpful for both women and men when either the Yang or Yin energy needs to be strengthened.
I also believe that many of today's office jobs do not allow men the large physical movement necessary for expressing Yang energy, and may help account for so many men approaching middle age with a sense of dissatisfaction. Women, especially women who've borne children or expressed their Yin energy in creative or nurturing ways, are more likely to be aware that they've expressed their basic womanhood, but some men may find themselves 45 years old or so and feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled..in a job that does not supply the recognition or financial rewards that they'd hoped for. Many middle-aged men, still full of dynamic energy, find themselves unable to nurture their needs because their responsibilities sandwich them between their own parents. who are getting old and in need of attention, and their teenaged children who need to be supported through college. Perhaps they don't demand information about their physical health or situations of mild chronic depression because they can't label the problem, or they feel that that would not be the "manly" thing to do, but make no mistake about it, they are fully aware something is wrong. Far too many American men are struggling in a chronic state of mild depression. Too many have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, low libido, prostate problems. Many know that they eat too much starch and perhaps drink too much beer. Or sugary soda...or .artificially sweetened soda or animal fats. Unless they work out regularly or are regularly involved in sports, they nay find that their body movements are limited and confined. Many men would like information on meditation, male bonding, holistic nourishment, but are leery about showing an interest in anything that could be labeled "new age" or questionable. To many, somehow this has always been part of the women's domain.
Some men tend to distrust holistic measures, because they fear they are disloyal to the technological/synthetic paradigm of healthcare on which so many of us were raised, even though that paradigm may not be working. As one man confided to me, "Sometimes I just feel like as though there is a caged animal inside me." The constant overshooting of adrenaline caused by the chronic stress and anxiety of bills and family concerns, without any real way to actively discharge that stress, has taken an incredible toll.
So what we, both men and women, need to do for the healthy energy of today's men, is to find a way to appropriately rebalance the essential "stallion-power" , as well as the Spiritual power, that energizes men and keeps them healthy. Ginseng, saw palmetto, etc. are wonderful things, but, natural as they are, they alone cannot take the place of standing on a mountain top and raising a strong, healthy, masculine voice to meet the sun. For the good of all of us, and for our societies and civilization, we need to find healthy ways to vent and express that marvelous energy.
Suggestions for expressing male yang energy
- Big breathing (big, slow, steady exhales, followed by big, slow, steady inhales. Very energizing for your mind and or every cell in your body. And, of course, your heart loves it! This one's a must! Obviously!)
- Big movement, hitting sports like tennis, racquetball
- Chopping wood
- Crying (Are you aware that the chemistry of crying-tears is different from the chemistry of cold-weather- tears...and that it is believed that the toxins of unreleased sadness, which contribute to disease, may be released when we cry. So allow yourself a good teary session, when necessary)
- Digging (as long as you're in good health. Never overdue)
- Drumming (believed by native people everywhere to help connect with raw Earth pulse/energy. Very empowering.) Use either a modern drum set, bongo drums, or Native American Drums. Each has a different sound, but permits the same release.
- Laughing (Try an old Three Stooges movie, or Abbot and Costello...still funny!) Toxins are actually released and nervous relaxation restored with the laughing movements.
- Meditation (see the article on easing jangled nerves, in the library section of this website).
- Moving furniture (Ha! I can see your wife's eyes light up!)
- Running or jogging (within reason!)
- Sparring with a punching bag
- Walking (no special equipment. Excellent for your lungs, your legs, your heart, and your emotional equilibrium. Don't worry as you walk. Look around and witness what surrounds you in the here-and-now) Good for adjust cholesterol count and reducing hypertension.
- Weight-lifting (again, within reason!)
- Yodelling (In the shower or car, if you're shy about an audience...but better in a group!)
- Yoga (wait until you try it! You'll be amazed at how aerobic and empowering it can be, if you've never tried it.)