Exploring better health for men

Exploring better health for men

     I want to chat about a subject that is not discussed often. In my own practice, 90% of my clients are females. Our culture often regards men who seek help as weak. I believe as an herbal practitioner it is my responsibility to shift that toxic perception. It is important for men to seek support BEFORE they have a life altering medical event. I am a wife and a mother. I think in terms of my husband and my son. What kind of life am I creating for them if I only address and support the health of women? 

     The majority of the articles that I read about men’s health seem to focus on athlete’s foot, baldness, or virility. I believe that a man’s health should be much more comprehensive than just a few body parts. In this society, we encourage men to be tough in the face of hardship. This leaves men stuck in an unhealthy pattern of coping. So, I sat down with my husband and asked him to list the top five areas that he would like to see addressed with proactive options. I am sharing this in hopes that it will help other men be proactive with their health and to feel as though they are more supported. 

     Holistic healing is very much active. That means that you must act in doing your part. Here are a few of my favorite plant remedies to the top five areas that my husband listed for me. 

Fatigue, Stamina, Energy

It’s easy to become over-stimulated and exhausted for most men. Much is required of their physical bodies while so little supports their emotional bodies. For this reason I love Maca (Lepidium meyenii) and Cordyceps (Ophicordyceps sinensis). 

Maca is referred to as Peruvian ginseng. It is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Limited studies suggest that maca root may help improve energy and positively affect mood. Early findings also suggest that maca root may also help preserve cognitive function and possess anti-inflammatory properties. It is generally safe to add to your diet or if you take it as a supplement 3g per day when used for no longer than 4 months. Bonus: It is extremely nutritious. It contains a significant amount of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, sterols, glucosinolates and polysaccharides, oleic and linoleic and 18 amino acids. Maca helps with sperm production and motility. It is an excellent support to improve male fertility. 

Cordycyceps have been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. This mushroom is referred to as the caterpillar fungus. It works to enhance circulation and cardiac output. Cordyceps are traditionally used to decrease fatigue and increase athletic performance. It also has great benefits in regards to lung function. It has also been shown to increase libido and sperm count. 

Prostate and Bladder Health

     Prostate and bladder function generally concern most aging men but especially those with a history of issues in their family. If your family has a history of challenges in this area, it is especially important to begin being proactive with your body’s care. 

Most people are aware that Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is great for the support of Prostatic Hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), prostatic cancer, and prostatic infection. Let’s also discuss a lesser known option: Pumpkin Seeds (Curcubita pepo). Pumpkin seed ingestion can positively influence prostate health. They are an inexpensive and delicious snack. You can add them to salads, oatmeal, granola, and even yogurt. You can buy them roasted and salted (if your BP is good) and enjoy them like you would sunflower seeds. They are very high in zinc. They are commonly used to strengthen the prostate gland and promote healthy hormone function. 

Sleep and Stress

     There is no denying that sleep and stress are tied closely together in both men and women. If you are a heavy snorer and you wake up from a full eight hours of sleep every morning and feel totally unrested, I recommend discussing with your medical doctor having a sleep study done. Having solutions for my husband’s sleep apnea made a huge difference for him. Often men’s emotional health goes unaddressed and often unnoticed. I encourage my male clients to journal if they feel that they can’t openly share with their partner. The journal allows you to put your feelings down. Anger has often been the only “allowed” emotion for men to carry and that is just such toxic teaching. I also encourage men to exercise. We live in a society that glorifies who can hustle the hardest while carrying the most stress and the least sleep. Yoga, weight lifting, swimming, and daily walks are great ways for men to relieve stress. I also encourage Reiki. It is the Japanese technique of healing that reminds the body how to heal itself. It is simply a healing modality that really benefits the mind, body, and spirit. Therapeutic massage is also a great tool for men to relieve stress. We put so much focus on “self-care” for women but rarely even encourage it for men. Hot teas and long bath soaks are also a great way to bring important “self-care” into the lives of men. Soaking the body is great for muscle and mind relaxing. My three favorite herbs for stress and sleep are Valerian (Valeriana officianalis), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). Valerian is a powerful antispasmodic and has relaxant properties. It supports the reduction of anxiety and improves sleep. It is an excellent herb for stress that affects mood and sleep. Skullcap also offers antispasmodic properties. Skullcap works to relieve stress and nervous tension, sleeplessness, and anxiety. It really works well for stress that is often specific to men’s health issues. When valerian and skullcap are paired together, you have a dynamite team supporting stress, anxiety, nervous tension, and sleep issues. DO NOT OPERATE MACHINERY or A VEHICLE when taking valerian. Take both of these herbs in single form or conjunction before bedtime. Last but not least, we have the powerful adaptogen power of Ashwagandha. It works well on so many of the body systems. However, it is especially valuable for its tonic action in the reproductive systems of those who suffer from a stressed nervous system. It is an excellent endocrine tonic for men. I recommend also taking Ashwagandha at bedtime. 


     The digestive system is closely linked to our overall health. Issues of the digestive system will impact our entire body. Here are some practical tips that may help you avoid indigestion…. Don’t overeat. If you are at an event where you feel you might overindulge, it is suggested that berberine taken before your meal will help your digestion. Don’t eat too quickly. This act can cause us to swallow too much air or chew improperly. It is important to chew your food slowly and properly. Proper digestion starts in the mouth afterall. Avoid drinking lots of liquid with your meal. If you must, take small sips in between bites. Drinking celery juice can keep the digestive system on track. However, scientists believe that Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra) can prevent gastrointestinal damage. The inner bark of slippery elm has been used extensively by First Nations people as a laxative, and for coughs, upset stomach, diarrhea, and ulcers. Today it is used to soothe irritated mucous membranes of the throat and digestive system. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is known as the “great nourisher”. It is a very mild laxative, but it also acts as a biochemical balancer. The stomach contains hydrochloric acid and some enzymes. This is the reason that licorice root is beneficial in calming the digestive process. Licorice root is also good for reproductive health in men and a great support during infertility treatments. 


My husband works outside all year long, in the sweltering heat and in the freezing cold. Hot tea and hot bath soaks are a great solution for the cold weather but staying hydrated is really something that he faces challenges with in the summer. Last summer, he was working on the sawmill with my brother and he ended up getting so depleted and dehydrated that we spent the afternoon in the emergency room getting him IV bags of fluid. I set out to come up with a more natural, well balanced hydration beverage for him. I’ll share that recipe in detail below. Sugary and sodium filled sports drinks just don’t do the trick and they are really unhealthy. For his severe muscle cramps in the summer, he uses Great Faith Organics Magnesium Spray. Just a few sprays does the trick for him. Magnesium is absorbed through the body better when used topically, over ingesting. Electrolytes are a huge part of hydration. When we sweat, our body loses electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that help regulate processes in the body. They also help with our nervous systems, internal pH levels, and our muscle function. Hence why muscle cramps arise with dehydration. They include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, bicarbonate, and sodium. This beverage can also be used when you have been sick and need to replenish your body or after any sort of athletic performance.  Coconut water is probably the most simple electrolyte drink if you want a quick natural option but you’ll want to make sure that you are choosing a natural, sugar-free option. The plants chosen for this recipe are chosen because they are full of the necessary minerals we need to replenish.

2 cups of herbal infused water

2 teaspoons of raw, local honey

¼ cup of lime juice

⅛ tsp of himalayan salt

For our herbal infused water we are going to use equal parts Elder flower (Sambucus nigra), tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and red raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus). 3 TBSP of your equal parts herbs (set aside the blend for later) and combine with 16 ounces of water. Steep for a half hour. Allow to cool and combine with other ingredients. Enjoy. 

I cannot write an article about men’s health and leave off this last remedy. Although it is not one of the things that my husband listed, it is very important for the health of men. Heart health is a major area of concern for a lot of men. Hawthorne (Crataegus species) is my favorite natural way to support the heart, both in men and women. The entire circulatory system shows benefit when this herb is administered over long periods of time. It should also always be the first consideration for high blood pressure in its early stages. It also has the power to address deep emotional wounds, or long unexpressed sentiments that may “weigh heavily on the heart”. The berries are quintessential cardiovascular strengtheners. It is known in the herbal community as the cardiac superstar.

I hope that information will help you be proactive in your health. I feel that the conversation of men’s mental, physical, and emotional health should be discussed openly and without judgment. 

By: Mandy Church, Herbal Practitioner
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