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Attention men: your health matters: CoreyPine Shane looks at male health through an herbal lens.

Why is so much more written about women's health than men's? Is it because men are less likely to ask for help (or directions!)? Or, is it the mindset that men are tough and invincible to everyday ails? Whatever the reason, men often don't take care of themselves and end up with a variety of ailments from years of bodily neglect.

But, this trend doesn't have to continue. There is a great deal of preventative care that men can take while still young. In fact, using appropriate herbs, consuming the right foods and making some lifestyle adjustments can help men remain healthy even as their hair is turning gray. These measures may even help men avoid issues like heart disease, prostate problems and fading sexual vitality that affect so many.

COMING FROM THE HEART

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., and men have a higher incidence of the disease at a younger age. Herbs like garlic and turmeric can help protect the heart. Incorporating these herbs into the diet can also help lower levels of "bad" cholesterol and protect the blood vessels from atherosclerotic plaque.

But men should not rely on herbs alone for heart health. They also need to learn to listen to their heart, feelings and passions. Men need to acknowledge that they are not tools in some great machine, all brain and muscle. Unless men tune in and start living in harmony with their hearts, they may find a time in their lives when their heart fails, and no amount of herbal medicine can heal that.

Cholesterol and fats are not the true enemy, though Cholesterol is the chemical basis for terstosterone and all steroid hormones, and fats make up the wall of every cell. So, it's not the quantity of fat and cholesterol that counts, but the quality Eating, good fats, such as olive oil, sea fish, nuts and seeds can actually be helpful, as can taking an Omega-3 supplement like flax oil or fish oil. It's also just as important to avoid the bad fats, like hydrogenated, old or rancid oils, and, of course, trans fats.

When it comes to heart herbs, don't forget hawthorn. Many heart herbs are too strong for use unless recommended by a trained herbalist, but hawthorn can be used for almost any heart condition; it nourishes the heart by increasing blood flow to the cardiac muscle so that the heart can function more efficiently.

MOVING ENERGY

You could say that there are two main energetic patterns to be aware of with most male reproductive problems: a stagnation of energy in the pelvis or a deficiency of vital energy. Either can lead to prostate problems in later life or a lack of sexual vitality manifesting as erectile dysfunction or impotence. Two basic preventative strategies are to move energy to the pelvis and to nourish vital energy.

Men can begin moving the pelvic energy by moving their bodies. For tens of thousands of years, humans have been active and physical. If you stay seated all day, blood won;t flow through your body as well as it could. Remember, greater blood flow means greater tissue health, thanks to increased oxygen and glucose moving to an area, while also clearing out waste products.

But, getting moving or exercising doesn't need to be a chore--find something you like doing. Walking a half hour a day can do wonders, as can swimming, or playing tennis or basketball. Also, think about dancing, hiking or walking to the stores as ways to get exercise.

To specifically improve pelvic health, try pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel or PC (pubococcygeal muscle, exercises. These simple internal exercises help prevent prostate problems by improving circulation, while also improving ejaculatory control, making for longer-lasting and better sex.

Begin by squeezing as if interrupting urine flow. Repeat this ten times, holding about two or three seconds each time. This makes one set. Try not to tense other muscles in the area and only clench and release the PC muscles. Build up slowly to five sets a day.

Herbs can help move pelvic energy, as well: stone root is a local herb that is used specifically for moving blood in the pelvic area; not coincidentally, it has a traditional use for prostate problems.

Ginkgo is probably the most well known circulatory herb and is used for erectile dysfunction circulation. Also, try cinnamon or ginger in your food, drinking sassafras as a tea (root beer was originally a medicinal drink), or, if you really need a kick, try prickly ash, a potent circulatory stimulant that'll make your mouth tingle.

NOURISHING ESSENCE

In Chinese Medicine, the vital force that keeps us strong and vibrant is known as jing, translated as Essence. Depletion of Essence is what is responsible for all the signs of aging: graying of the hair, weak bones and flagging vitality. So, whatever men can do to help Essence is going to help them age gracefully.

One of the ways men lose Essence is through ejaculation. As men get older, they should have sex and masturbate less often. or learn ways of having an orgasm without ejaculating. The techniques are too complex to discuss to discuss here, so reference the books on the list on page twelve to learn how.

Essence is easier to preserve than to replace once it is gone. Any time men push themselves past past their limits and draw on reserves, they deplete their Essence, so getting enough sleep and not overworking will help preserve it, as will eating an enjoyable and healthy diet.

Many "adaptogen" herbs can help preserve and nourish Essence, as well. These include he shou wu (fo-ti), a classic Chinese longevity herb that is available as a tasty tonic called "shou wu chi."

Other nourishing herbs include saw palmetto, ginseng, ashwagandha, and muira puama. Some of these herbs are thought of as aphrodisiacs, not in a stimulating sense, but as tonics to essential energy. Focusing on this essential energy enables the experience of a greater overall vitality, and remember, sexual vitality mirrors the vitality of the whole body.

Another genre of aphrodisiac encompasses ones used for relaxation, like damiana. Relaxation is a good start for an aphrodisiac because often problems arise when a person is unable to leave the day behind and relax into sensuality.

Despite the lack of attention men's health may receive, issues like heart disease and vitality are very serious and should be addressed early on. An appropriate use of herbs, along with the movement and nourishment of vital energy can help men feel better and sexier and live a more energetic, longer life. Of course, they'll be healthier to boot! What more can men ask for?

RECOMMENDED READING

The Male Herbal by James Green

The Way of the Superior man by David Deida

Vital man by Stephen Harrod Buhner

The Art of Sexual Ecstasy by Margo Anand

Taoist Secrets of Love by Mantak Chia

Hot Plants by Chris Kilham
COPYRIGHT 2007 Natural Arts
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Article Details
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Author:Shane, CoreyPine
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:1166
Previous Article:Standing strong at the crossroads: our exclusive interview with renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.
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