Unfortunately, statistics show that men often have shorter life expectancies and poorer overall health when compared to women. The reasons for these poorer health outcomes may be a combination of genetic and social influences. Genetically, men are more prone to heart disease than women. In addition, social constructs around masculinity may contribute to the fact that men are much less likely than women to look after their health and see physicians.
According to the CDC the two most common causes of death for men are heart disease and cancer. June is a time to talk about these looming killers and encourage health screenings that can help promote longer lives for men, but it is also a time to consider quality of life.
‘Healthy aging’ is a buzz phrase often focused on women, but men also want to retain the energy and strength (and good looks!) of their youth once they've got the wisdom to go with it. One of the main threats to quality of life for aging men is testosterone decline. Testosterone is a hormone that maintains sex drive, sperm production, body hair, muscle and bone. While not as dramatic as women’s plunging hormones in menopause, all men go through a period of many years known as andropause, marked by a gradual decline in testosterone.
Generally this plays out as about a 1% decrease a year after the age of 40. For many men, this is a normal transition that comes without noticeable symptoms. And many continue to have testosterone levels within normal ranges. But for some men, there are accompanying symptoms or further decline in levels that drop them below normal range. About 10-25% of men experience what has been called: “Aging Male Syndrome” and this can be a serious threat to their quality of life. The struggle can include weight gain, insomnia, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, sweats and hot flashes, trouble concentrating, irritability, depression, increased urination, and bone, hair and muscle loss.
The western approach to this problem, in addition to encouraging a healthy lifestyle and regular health screenings, offers drug therapy in the form of hormone replacement for men with severe symptoms. Testosterone therapy has shown some benefits for some, but for others, these benefits are not always clear. And the risks are concerning, as hormone therapy can stimulate the growth of metastatic prostate or breast cancer. It may also increase formation of clots and risk of heart attack or stroke.
When Chinese Medicine talks about aging, the focus is on the kidneys. Kidney energy (qi) and essence governs the life cycles of human development. Testosterone, in general, is thought of as a manifestation of Kidney Yang (the hot, active aspect of kidney qi) As this declines, it is associated with low back pain, cold limbs, lower libido, paling complexion and weakness.
The TCM approach is therefore to boost kidney yang. This is mainly done through acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs. One herb used to boost the kidney yang is called: yin yang huo, commonly known as horny goat weed. This and other individual herbs are known for strengthening kidney yang, but it is more likely that your practitioner will prescribe a multi-herb formula to address the issue from a few angles. Depending on the individual pattern, Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan is a formula that may be prescribed to supplement yang and warm the kidneys, while restoring balance in the system.
Even without herbs, getting in for regular treatment proves very beneficial for men looking to maintain healthy testosterone levels. An eight week protocol of electro-acupuncture and moxibustion given to aging men at acupuncture points UB23 and DU 4 (known for tonifying the kidney yang energy), significantly increased total and free testosterone . The best part? This acupuncture-induced hormone boost comes without the unwanted side effects.
Acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs are some of the best ‘healthy aging’ tools available for both men and women! Improve your quantity and quality of life by calling to schedule your next appointment!
The kidneys are vital organs that allow our bodies to process waste and turn it into urine and filter our blood of toxins before it gets back to the heart. The kidneys also maintain our overall fluid balance and create hormones that regulate blood pressure, support bone health and produce red blood cells. To support your kidneys, it’s beneficial to stay plenty hydrated and avoid extra salt in your food.
Jam-packed with vitamins and healthy fats and low in sodium from all the fresh fruits and veggies, this smoothie is a kidney-boosting wonder!
Cranberries are often praised for their bladder-healthy benefits. They are also full of Vitamin C and fiber and have anti-inflammatory effects. Walnuts are a great source of healthy fat and also benefit the kidneys, according to traditional Chinese medicine. You can make this smoothie with water or almond milk for an extra calcium boost. Making sure you have enough calcium in your diet can help to prevent kidney stones. Lastly, ginger is always a great smoothie addition, making the flavor more dynamic and contributing to the smoothie’s anti-inflammatory effects.
To make, combine the ingredients in a blender and enjoy!
5 Steps to Improve Your Hearing
Many of us have already experienced or will experience some amount of hearing loss. This can be due to aging or noise-induced factors. Exposure to loud sound over time can permanently damage the ears and result in hearing loss.
If you find yourself struggling with hearing and feeling the need to turn up the TV or your music louder, you may be experiencing hearing loss. Here are five steps to improve your hearing and prevent further damage.
1. Wear protection
If you know you will be around loud noise and won’t be able to avoid it, like at a large event or while using power tools, wear ear plugs. You can find ear plugs at most grocery stores and they can severely protect your ears from damaging loud noise.
To keep volumes at a moderate level on devices or stereos, consider adding a volume limit. Most devices have a feature where you can set a maximum volume. This way, you won’t be able to turn your volume up to the actual maximum.
3. Give yourself a break
Research has shown that being in a quieter setting can train your ears to better focus on the quiet sounds and increase overall hearing. Try to take even just ten minutes a day and go somewhere secluded where there is not a lot of external noise and disruption.
Ah, my favorite! Food truly is medicine even when it comes to hearing health, and these foods have been shown to improve hearing and prevent hearing loss.
Salmon and other fish: The omega 3 fats and Vitamin D found in Salmon and other like foods have been shown to strengthen the blood vessels in the ear’s sensory system, which then can improve hearing. Research has shown that adults who eat fish twice a week reduced their risk of age-related hearing loss by 42 percent.
Spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli: These foods are high in antioxidants and folic acid. Antioxidants can help lower the risk of hearing loss by reducing free radicals in your body that can damage the nerve tissue in the ears.
Dark chocolate, oysters, cashews: Foods high in zinc like dark chocolate, oysters and nuts can improve your body’s resistance to age-related hearing loss.
A study conducted by the College of Oriental Medicine in South Korea measured the effects of acupuncture on patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss and found that half of the patients showed improvement in hearing after acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture points can stimulate the strength in the auditory cortex to the brain, thus increasing the brain’s ability to react to auditory stimuli.
Learn how to be aware of the symptoms of hearing loss including difficulty understanding what people say, having to raise the volume higher and muffled sounds. If you think you are suffering from hearing loss, try these tips and contact an acupuncturist today.
Facial Gua Sha is a facial massage technique using a special tool, and it is a best kept secret of the ancient Chinese aristocracy that literally erases lines before your eyes. Today I'm going to instruct you in how to perform the two most basic strokes to erase the "11's" between the eyebrows, review the basics of what it is and why it works (note that the video above shows a little more than just the forehead, but the instructions here are just for that most critical part).
It is best done by an experienced provider with specialized gua sha tools, but the most basic strokes can be done at home using simple tools and can still yield impressive results.
How To Erase Forehead Furrows, a.k.a. "11's"
The whole face, neck and decollette area can be treated by and improved with Facial Gua Sha and when performed by a professional you not only get the Botox-like effect of decreasing muscle contractions and smoothing the face, but also improvements in overall circulation, Qi flow, lifting and sagging.
At home, however, you can easily learn the basic strokes to work against what is usually our most prominent muscle contraction - the dreaded "11's" or forehead furrows. These lines are actually due to muscle breakdown related to repeated contraction and gua sha is a perfect tool to counter and reverse this action.
Here are the basics you need to perform this DIY Facial Gua Sha technique:
Now that you're armed and ready, here's the How To:
This process should only take a few minutes and it is an ideal routine to add in to a nightly cleanse & moisturize ritual. Since you're more likely to be "taking off the day" and cleansing the face at this time, and using a heavier more nourishing moisturizer, you should be all set to go only needing to add a Gua Sha Tool and few extra minutes to your routine!
You should also be able to feel an immediate change in the depth of these lines after treatment. You may not be able to see it right away, but you should feel it and with repeat application you will see it too! If you don't feel an immediate change don't be discouraged - it takes some practice to get it right.
The Picture of Glowing Health
One of the most common things all my facial acupuncture patients tell me is that they get complimented on their complexion. Co-workers and friends will ask, “Did you go away over the weekend? You look so well rested.” Or, “Something is different about you. I can’t say what it is, but you look like you glow.”
Indeed, Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is commonly referred to as a Botox Alternative and is sought by people looking for a natural anti-aging treatment, especially to reduce lines and wrinkles, but it truly does so much more. It works both from the inside out and the outside in to brighten and improve your entire complexion.
Facial Acupuncture Balances and Brightens the Skin
Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is highly effective in balancing and brightening the skin because in Chinese Medicine, we can’t divorce the face from the rest of the body and your overall constitution. Our focus in facial acupuncture treatment is the face, to be sure, but the channels that traverse the face traverse the entire body so we cannot treat one without the other. Furthermore, the appearance of the complexion is a reflection of your internal Qi - the face is dominated by the Stomach channel which in turn is dependent upon the health and function of the Spleen (indicating digestive function), and aging in particular is governed by your Kidney Qi.
To successfully slow the hands of time and improve your skin, all of these energies must be balanced and addressed through the combination of facial and body acupuncture treatment. The result is not only a brightening effect on the face, but an overall improvement in health and wellbeing that is often palpable, even if no other specific complaints are present.
As the overall health of your Qi improves along with the increase in Qi and Blood flow to the face specifically, we address a number of skin issues. Among them:
All of these things combine to create a truly beautiful picture and noticeably improved facial appearance. Especially during hormonal shifts, when your skin can change from dry to oily or even to combination, facial acupuncture is an incredibly powerful tool because of the concurrent treatment of skin concerns and hormone balancing.
Facial Acupuncture - Not Just the Face
Remember that there is more to your face than just the face itself as well - your neck is very important. In Chinese Medicine the neck is referred to as the “Celestial Pivot” since it is very important to the communication between the body, the brain and the heavens. Ensuring that your neck muscles are relaxed so that flow between the head and body is smooth is essential. Neck pain, therefore, is very successfully treated along with facial concerns. Furthermore, neck lines and wrinkles can also be addressed, especially with cupping therapy.
Facial Acupuncture for Treatment and Prevention
Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is an amazing anti-aging therapy because it can be used both actively, for the treatment of lines, wrinkles, sagging, uneven skin tone, eye concerns, etc. and passively as prevention. Indeed, Facial Acupuncture as a maintenance treatment to reduce the formation of lines and wrinkles is traditionally how the Empress of China began using this technique - Facial Acupuncture plus tonic herbs and facial massage using a jade stick or roller was part of a regular longevity regime for the royal family.
The ideal time to start monthly facial acupuncture treatments for prevention, is actually between 25 and 30 years of age. 25 is often when we see our first fine lines and wrinkles appear, and by 35 most people have 1-2 lines that are noticeable and beginning to deepen. It is ideal, therefore, to add facial acupuncture into your regime at this time to maintain the most youthful appearance.
I have successfully reduced deep lines and eliminated fine lines in women all the way up to 60, however, and in women 70 and older I have been able to remove new lines (that formed within the last 2 months before treatment) and slow the aging process significantly. Between 60 and 70 line removal is less predictable due to genetics and lifestyle factors, but prevention of anything new is still very strong. Regardless of when you start, the results of facial acupuncture treatment can be maintained 2-5 years with regular monthly treatment after a full facial series.
Want to Know More?
Free consults are always available. Book online for free 15 minute consult via the phone or in person, or email me directly with questions! Or comment in the comments section below and I'll be happy to provide additional information. Until then, yours in health,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.