Welcome to Day 27 of the 40 Day Herbalist’s Challenge. Today’s topic is all about herbs for the fellas. The most common herbs people think of when it comes to male health are herbs that support the prostate, but herbs that support cardiovascular health and male hormonal balance are actually pretty important, too! Let’s take a look. For today’s mission I’ve included links to learning more about hawthorn, one of herbalism’s most important cardiovascular plants.
Cardiovascular Health for Men
I don’t see a lot about cardiovascular health for men in the herbal community, which is somewhat surprising to me. According to the CDC, one in every four male deaths are caused by heart disease, and even men that don’t have symptoms of cardiovascular disease can still be at risk. So it would make sense to stress heart healthy lifestyle choices and heart supportive herbs whenever the topic of male health comes up!
It’s difficult to suggest one or two herbs to begin with for doing your own research in this area, because there are so many great herbs that support cardiovascular health in so many different ways.
Linden, rose, and motherwort are nervines that are traditionally associated with the heart, especially when there is also an emotional component to cardiovascular imbalance and the system can benefit from the easing of physical and emotional tension or strain. Besides hawthorn (more links for that in today’s mission) night blooming cereus, Selenicereus grandifolius, is another traditional cardiovascular herb to explore.
If you are on prescription medications for a heart condition, do be aware that some herbs may interact with your medications so be sure to do some research and talk to your doctor before adding herbs to your routines.
Learning the warning signs of cardiovascular disease is a great idea for everyone, and so is getting regular screenings from your doctor if you can.
Male Hormonal Health
Rather than needing to be concerned with the regularly fluctuating intricacies faced by most women, the biggest hormonal event faced by men after reaching maturity is andropause. Andropause is defined as age related hormonal changes in men. Usually, there is a very gradual decline in testosterone levels after age 30. Signs of low testosterone can include changes in sexual function or sleep patterns, feeling fatigued, or even have an emotional component. Mayo clinic has more information on what types of things can be caused by low testosterone and how to talk with your doctor.
Adaptogens can be very supportive for male hormonal health in that they appear to support healthy overall endocrine function. Although ginseng is often thought of for men, eleuthero and rhodiola are two adaptogens that also seem to have a particular affinity for the heart so might be worth exploring.
Most people think of saw palmetto or pygeum when asked if they can recall any herbs for prostate health, but there are actually several others. Besides being part of the hormonal picture of male health, the prostate gland can also be considered in terms of the elemental balance and the picture of the individual vs a disease that we have often discussed so far in the Challenge. So, in certain cases herbs like nettle root, red root, or even angelica might be helpful in guiding the body back to balance. For instance, nettle is often thought of by herbalists when there is a frequent urge to urinate; or angelica might be considered especially for elders because of the specific affinities of the herbs for certain circumstances and individuals.
Beyond the standard supplement company rhetoric of saw palmetto, pygeum, and ginseng for the fellas, there is a great deal more subtlety and personalization available for men wanting to support their health with herbs. For anyone interested, the equivalent to an herbal owner’s manual for male health is James Green’s The Male Herbal, and the Earthwise Herbal Repertory also has a very thorough section that lists herbal specifics for male health concerns. I hope that today’s Challenge has at least given you some interesting herbs and concepts to explore for men’s herbal health!
Hawthorn usually gets pegged as a heart herb, but it’s actually also very useful as a nervine and for certain types of digestive imbalances (historically it was used for indigestion after fatty meals). This is another herb that can be grown at home or wildcrafted in many places, but if you want to add it to your garden you will need to make sure you have enough room - they can get quite large!
A hawthorn blog article with photographs to help you get a feel for what hawthorn looks like (although it’s not exactly consistent from one plant to the next. There can be some variation in leaf shapes).
Hawthorn explained in detail by herbalist Christopher Hobbs.
German Commission E Monograph on hawthorn.
Tips on growing hawthorn.
All the best,