Taking a Holistic Approach to Men's Health

July 17, 2008
Marcus Laux

There was a time when being a man meant working through the pain, suffering in silence to avoid an unfavorable reputation, and subjecting our bodies to unhealthy habits to declare our badge of virility.

Luckily the attitude towards men's health is beginning to shift. While men may still take pride in providing for and protecting their loved ones, admitting the need for help, whether physical or emotional, can be as difficult for some men as asking for directions! However, when a man does ask for physical or emotional help, it results in a healthier environment for him, his partner, and his family.

While certain health conditions continue to be out of our control, the simple fact remains that lifestyle choices can and do dramatically affect health outcomes. The Westernized notion of aging isn't exactly characterized by ability and strength, but rather of experiencing premature decrepitude. That is not a given around the globe, and fortunately, the baby boomer generation is changing that antiquated perspective at warp speed, armed with the wisdom that anti-aging means healthy living and making active choices, not trying to catch up after hitting the wall.

Moving beyond the yearly physical, men of all ages are beginning to look at their health from a preventive "caretaking" standpoint rather than a "fix-what's-broken, doc," mentality. It's no secret we're all living longer, working later into life, and increasingly entering into fatherhood at older ages. The need to live better while simply living has never been more necessary, not to mention more enjoyable. Instead of treating chronic conditions with nonhealing synthetic medications-which too frequently result in a mountain of daily pills and exposure to their countless side effects-men are now gravitating to the whole-body approach to protect and promote their health.

Along with this attitude shift comes a change in action and purchasing habits. Consumers are increasingly seeking out either preventive or condition-specific natural remedies to enjoy a better quality of life for a longer amount of time. The growing trend over the past two decades is a movement away from drugs, whenever possible. A return to our roots-whether the farm or forest, to the world's original medicines: nature's pharmacy-has been reawakened. Health self-education is a key factor, as consumers teach themselves how to be healthier people first, and better patients when needed. This grassroots movement is now a mainstream phenomenon, as more of us focus on improving our health and healing. Whether the goal is keeping our waistline or our wits, nothing beats the natural approach.

Study Examines Red Clover Safety

RED CLOVER ISOFLAVONES appear to be safe for women at increased risk of breast cancer, according to the results of a new study published in the March 2008 issue of the journal Menopause International.

In the study, researchers from Royal Marsden Hospital (London) and the University Hospital of South Manchester gave either a placebo or 40 mg of red clover isoflavones per day to 284 women aged 35–70 who had at least one close relative diagnosed with breast cancer. Novogen Ltd. (North Ryde, NSW, Australia) supplied its Promensil red clover supplement for use in the study.

After following up for three years, the researchers concluded that there were no changes in breast density, skeletal strength, or cardiovascular status in the treatment group.

"Reassuringly for women, this study shows that these phytoestrogens don't cause any estrogenic increase in breast density in women with a family history of breast cancer," said Trevor Powles, PhD, lead author and consultant oncologist at the Parkside Oncology Clinic (London). "This indicates that they are unlikely to cause an increased risk of breast cancer." The trial confirms similar findings from previous short-term studies, he added.

Plus, men are also literally growing up, paying more attention, and yes, even asking questions! This evolution has many benefits, like learning to avoid the health problems of their fathers. Men have discovered natural medicines and started using them for their cardiovascular systems, then their energy needs, and now their sexual health. They recognize that sexual vitality involves total body health. And, with andropause, aging, and what's being called the "second sexual revolution" upon them, this is the perfect time for men to naturally help themselves to some of their very best years of life's pleasures still to come.

Men's sexual health-arguably the most taboo topic to openly discuss-is becoming less shrouded in secrecy, even if feelings of embarrassment still prevail. Understandably, consumers have markedly less trust in the pharmaceutical agenda, particularly as healthcare costs continue to soar and modern medicine's approach of dealing with symptoms after the fact is becoming less and less attractive. With one new drug after another being pulled from the market regularly, often because they're causing more problems than they're helping, a drug decision today is now considered as the last resort. Coupled with sexual health products requiring a doctor's prescription and a subsequent trip to the pharmacy and follow-ups, it's no wonder many men have turned to herbal alternatives with hope for effective nutritional support without serious consequence.

Capitalizing on men's feelings of discomfort and the cultural stigma, quick-buck messaging for conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED) and sexual performance have taken e-mail in-boxes by storm, causing men to be instantly suspicious and skeptical to purchase and use these products. The Internet, and more specifically, the unsolicited bulk e-mail tactic known as "spam," is of course the main culprit contributing to consumer skepticism. From what I've seen, spam marketing tactics allow unscrupulous and anonymous businesses the opportunity to prey on naive consumers and on male egos and sexual insecurities with no regulation and oversight. Their crimes pay big when someone falls for their brazen pitches.

It's no coincidence that these deceitful operations spend next to nothing on the product itself because it is not intended to work, or it is spiked with an illegal and inexpensive generic-class drug used for the treatment of ED. As these companies are unaccountable and truly "virtual," without credible research, trusted owners, staff, or purity and safety standards, the consumers are not only ripped off, but also open themselves up to the escalating risks of unsafe products, computer viruses, and information and identity theft.

In the midst of the overwhelming rubbish, deceit, and blatant fraud with regard to male sexual health products, nature still does offer solid, safe, and effective solutions to today's man's biggest health challenges. With this vision, I saw a potential solution that stood out from the crowd in Life Span Labs (Portland, OR).

From the beginning, Life Span Labs was committed to improving a man's health with a holistic approach that could affect his mind and body for better quality of life, sex, and energy, on his terms. The founders operate from the tenet that male sexual health is a complex and integrated system, and the promise of a quick fix, even if it could work, offers no lasting benefit to the man or his partner. Life Span's founders are a group of baby boomers themselves and are seeking to improve their own health while helping others in the process. In my opinion, this focus on a long-term, whole-body approach to men's sexual health is just what this category needs. After learning more about the company and the founders' philosophy, I joined their cause as a medical adviser.

In my practice, I've helped many men enjoy their sex lives much more fully and richly at every age, including a patient who is 94 and counting! What I've repeatedly observed is that our sexual health is a predictable offshoot of our total well-being, from nutritional status, circulatory, hormonal, and nervous system function, including both the "excitatory" sympathetic and the "pleasure" parasympathetic components.

Traditional herbal formulas have been shown through scientific research to offer real help, whether they are derived from the Chinese, Tibetan, or American Indian cultures. In fact, many natural products have proven effective and valuable to men's health. A few examples include saw palmetto, modified citrus pectin, and lycopene, which have demonstrated their ability to support prostate health; CoQ10, hawthorn, natto, and garlic have been proven effective in addressing ardiovascular health; and gingko, club moss, and periwinkle plant extracts are playing a leading role in improving the brain's health and its cognitive ability.

The nutritional research regarding men's health is still in its infancy, but I expect terrific advances sooner rather than later for countless health conditions ranging from the prevention of various cancers; preventing Alzheimer's; and defeating diabetes, naturally, effectively, and harmlessly. With the greening of medicine in full gear, men have joined the self-help movement and recognize that the future of medicine is not only preventive but also proactive. Remember that the surgeon cuts, the physician stitches, but only nature heals. So by choosing more naturally, nature works for you, with you, by your very heart and hand. Marcus Laux is a licensed naturopathic physician who earned his doctorate at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM; Portland, OR). He has served as clinical professor at NCNM and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University (Seattle). Laux maintained a private family practice for two decades and is currently the editor of Naturally Well Today and is health science adviser to Life Span Labs (Portland, OR).

 

Marcus Laux is a licensed naturopathic physician who earned his doctorate at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM; Portland, OR). He has served as clinical professor at NCNM and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University (Seattle). Laux maintained a private family practice for two decades and is currently the editor of Naturally Well Today and is health science adviser to Life Span Labs (Portland, OR).

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