Low Testosterone

Low testosterone levels are considered to be an abnormality, and typically a treatment is recommended. Unfortunately, testosterone therapy appears to have significant side effects, and researchers prefer restoring low testosterone levels using natural ways. Considering that traditional Chinese medicine is a type of natural medicine, its practitioners have always approached the treatment using natural solutions. Since traditional Chinese medicine includes a number of modalities, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping therapy, moxibustion, tui na, and therapeutic exercises (tai chi, gigong), and each of them can increase testosterone levels, combining these methods can lead to an even better outcome, but the purpose of traditional Chinese medicine is not to increase the levels of testosterone but to restore the balance among internal organ functions, and thus restore optimal health in an individual, which will most likely include a normal testosterone level, as a result.

Testosterone and Western Medicine

Research shows that “Low testosterone levels in men have been associated with increased mortality” (Shores et al., 2012). It seemed perfectly logical: When a blood test shows a low testosterone level, physicians used to recommend testosterone therapy, so the testosterone level would reach its normal level. The latest research, however, has indicated that this “perfect” logic may be flawed. The primary issues were that testosterone therapy “had adverse cardiovascular events” and “was associated with increased risk of mortality” or “ischemic stroke” (Vigen et al., 2013). Then what can possibly be wrong and how else can low testosterone levels be addressed? Researchers have identified links among low testosterone levels with diabetes, obesity, and even aging, concluding that “subnormal testosterone levels should be an implementation of lifestyle measures such as weight loss and exercise, which, if successful, raise testosterone and provide multiple health benefits” (Grossmann, 2011). In other words, low testosterone levels appear to be part of a larger metabolic problem, which researchers recommend approaching treatment from a natural angle, as much as possible, which traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have always recommended.

Testosterone and Traditional Chinese Medicine

The question is whether or not traditional Chinese medicine can raise low testosterone levels. On one hand, one academic review states that “Studies show that acupuncture can significantly elevate the level of serum testosterone, reduce the concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and estradiol, initiate spermatogenesis, enhance testicular blood flow, maintain a relatively low temperature in the testis” (Li, Wu, & Zhang, 2018). Another study on moxibustion concluded that “the serum testosterone levels increased significantly compared with 12 male athletes in the control group” (Wang & Wang, 2005). Other studies have found that Chinese herbs are capable of similar effects (Zhang et al., 2016; Carsrud et al., 2019) and that so can Chinese therapeutic exercises (Walther, Lacker, & Ehlert, 2018). On the other hand, however, the goal of traditional Chinese medicine—no matter what modality is used—is to restore the optimal balance among organs, which, in turn, should restore the optimal testosterone level. This way, there should be minimal side effects of the treatment. In order to increase the treatment outcome, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine often combine two more methods. So the conclusion is, talk to your acupuncturist/TCM provider. Chances are, he or she will be able to help.

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