Creative Eldering: The Male Energetic System
In past generations, males in our society were under incredible pressure to exhibit extreme degrees of physical and emotional strength. Previously, men were expected to be the sole bread winners for their families and minimize their emotions in order to maintain a perception of masculinity. Men were discouraged from expressing their emotions and bombarded with phrases like, “man up,” “boys don’t cry” and other, sometimes even more offensive, slogans. Slowly, these harmful and archaic ideologies are being phased out, but men in our culture still face societal pressures to be hyper-masculine. While there are certainly inborn differences between males and females, it is the societal pressures that often lead to an increase of health issues and decreased lifespan for men. “From the first moments of life, men face increased susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, cancer, lung problems, liver ailments and diabetes. Often their reluctance to treatment results in high rates of early illness and death. On average, men live seven years less than women” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 215).
Now that men are freer to express their emotions appropriately rather than conceal their emotional discomfort, more men are seeking treatment for their depression. “When the body talks, men are told, “Don’t pay attention…just keep going.” The body then wears down and men succumb to stress, depression, cardiovascular disease, stomach upsets, or cancer, and they die at much younger ages than their female counterparts” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 221). Depression may stem from organ imbalances, specifically underlying imbalances in the hypothalamus. Many natural treatments can help balance the hypothalamus. You can read about specific supplements that can aid in balancing the hypothalamus on page 221 in Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition. Learning to express emotions, talking about their feelings and pay attention to what their bodies are telling them is the biggest key to overcoming depression.
Middle aged and older men may begin to notice various changes in their wellbeing as they age. One of the first signs of aging that many men experience is balding. While there are genetic factors that can increase the chances of male pattern baldness, hair loss may also be a symptom of imbalance within the body. Specific imbalances in the kidney, liver heart and thyroid are often identified as contributors to hair loss. Diet is another factor. “Diets of fruits, vegetables and grains, including seaweed, which is rarely eaten in U.S. culture, are linked to decreased hair loss” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 220).
As in the cases of depression and hair loss, diet is a contributing factor for many diseases and disorders that are more prevalent in men. Impotence, the inability to achieve or maintain erection or the inability to achieve ejaculation, may be related to mental and emotional imbalances. Use of certain prescription drugs, diabetes, high blood pressure and other physical health issues can also lead to impotence. The treatment of impotence may involve treating these underlying factors first in order to resolve this issue. Herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, saw palmetto, ginseng and others may also be used in the treatment of impotence. Eating beets or taking a beet juice supplement releases nitroxide in the blood. This can dilate blood vessels and can be helpful in resolving impotence.
Prostate health is another concern many men face. The prostate is an endocrine dependent gland. “The glandular system must be working effectively to keep the prostate gland functioning well. Proper prostate function begins with the hypothalamus, which represents the part of the brain that controls the pituitary gland. In turn, the pituitary gland sends messages to the thyroid. The chain of command is: hypothalamus to pituitary to thyroid to prostate” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 228). Issues with urination may be the first symptom of prostate imbalance. If your prostate is inflamed or enlarged, you may experience incontinence and frequent urination. There are surgical procedures that can alleviate an enlarged prostate, but many less invasive more natural options are available also. Treating the glandular system with supplements and acupuncture can be very effective. The mineral zinc can be especially beneficial for prostate health.
Working with the liver meridian through acupuncture and strengthening it with specific supplements can help to heal the prostate and minimize symptoms relating to men’s health in the second half of their lives. “B-complex, vitamins C, D, E and garlic are crucial to prostate health. Essential fatty acids, including flaxseed oil which contains a good balance of Omega 3, 6, and 9, also foster good hormonal balance” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 228). Many minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium and others can also strengthen the male energetic system. Take time to read chapter 5 on nutrition in Your Aging Body Can Talk, and consider it your guide to healthful eating habits.
As male culture changes, men can take greater steps to ensure their health and wellness. The new definition of masculinity can now include expressing all emotions, paying attention to their body’s messages and caring for the whole self, body, mind and spirit.