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Natural solutions to men’s health issues

Societal change happens on an ongoing basis and, as we are seeing all the time,” says Gerald Colfer from health store Only Natural in Wexford. “There are many aspects of both physical and mental health that men are only recently willing to recognise. This willingness to talk about our problems and seek help when we need it is certainly to be encouraged and applauded as a step forward.

“On the shop floor we deal with men’s issues from the minor to the less so every day. Such issues include joint and heart health, prostate issues, acne, fertility issues and stress. Having worked in the area for nearly forty years, I can see what a step forward it is for men to be willing to open up about their health issues.”

Skin issues

“Our younger male clientele often look for help with acne during the years when hormonal development means that skin flare-ups can be an issue,” says Gerald Colfer. “Vitamins A and zinc, herbal blood cleansers like burdock root, nettle and garlic and green foods like spirulina and wheatgrass can all help, especially when combined with a dietary overhaul.”

“Washing your skin is the most important thing you can do,” says Rob Whinnett at Blasta Wholefoods, Dungarvan, Co Waterford. “It helps remove excess surface oils and dead skin cells that can clog your pores. Staff in your local health store can advise on washes that won’t dry or irritate your skin. Remember to wash after exercising because sweat can clog your pores and make your acne worse. If you work around greasy food or oil, if you’ve been sweating from heat or from working hard, wash your face and other acne-prone areas as soon as possible. If you use hair spray or styling gel, try to keep them away from your face as much as possible. Many hair products contain oils that can make acne worse. If you get acne on areas such as your chest or back, avoid wearing tight clothes, which can rub and cause irritation. In severe cases, agnus castus drops have been shown to help.”

Other help comes from:

  • Greens – these veggies are rich in chlorophyll, which purifies the blood of the toxins that cause skin eruptions.
  • Omega-3 – from oily fish, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, nuts and flax oils. Also in capsule or liquid form.
  • Zinc – can be helpful to prevent scarring. Eat legumes, seeds and nuts or take a supplement.

Sports help

“Sports performance is also a subject when advice is frequently asked for,” says Gerald Colfer. “This isn’t a difficult one to help with today, given the proliferation of ‘cleaner’ natural sports aids available. Look to your local health store for more natural and bio-available protein supplements, as well as natural energy and endurance boosters.”

“Your muscles will take longer to recover if you don’t get adequate sleep and good nutrition, or if you’re under a lot of stress,” says Rob Whinnett. “Consuming protein both before and after a workout can give your body the raw material it needs to repair muscle damage. It’s important to stay hydrated as dehydration can impair your muscles’ ability to repair themselves. Magnesium is important for muscular health and function, and can be particularly useful for muscle stiffness or cramps. Regularly drinking a shot of Beetroot Juice a couple of hours before exercise can help with stamina and endurance, whilst drinking Tart Cherry Juice after exercise can help reduce inflammation, muscle damage and muscle soreness.”

Other help comes from:

  • B vitamins – help the liver break down toxins. Found in wholegrains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Herbs milk thistle and artichoke (cynara scolymus) – protect the liver as well as improve its overall function.

Fertility facts

“Our modern, unhealthy lifestyle and poor dietary habits combined with environmental factors, stress and poor sleep contribute to a general decline in overall health,” says Dr AJ Horak on behalf of Phytoceutics. “Men’s health unfortunately shares in this trend, with a global decline in fertility and semen quality.”

“If you’re looking for ways to make your sperm more abundant, healthier and stronger, you can eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, limit drinking alcohol, maintain a healthy weight, skip long soaks in hot tubs or baths, trade in your briefs for boxers, treat underlying medical conditions and quit smoking,” says Rob Whinnett. “Zinc and l-arginine are important to male fertility, and there are a number of speciality supplements on the market that can be useful.”

“Fertility is certainly among health issues for men, and from a natural health viewpoint there is much to recommend to help,” says Gerald Colfer. “This can include both lifestyle recommendations and supplementation of the major fertility related nutrients including zinc, CoQ10, vitamins C and D, l-carnitine and essential fats.”

“Male fertility is negatively influenced by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and anti-oxidants in the body,” says Dr AJ Horak. “Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient which acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage and plays a very important role in metabolism. In a recent study coenzyme Q10 supplementation showed significant improvement in sperm concentration and motility. Omega-3 oils are essential fatty acids which the body cannot produce itself. Studies have shown that omega-3 can improve fertility in both women and men. In men, omega-3 supplementation may increase sperm count, improve motility and shape of sperm and improve overall sperm quality.”

Stress help

“Stress is also high on men’s health lists,” says Gerald Colfer. “Many men are still less likely to open up about it and the ways it affects them, so it’s important for young men to learn some natural management methods such as gentle exercise, breathing techniques and mental self-awareness that can stop stress from doing deep-rooted damage. Combine this approach with supplementation to support the nervous system (B vitamins, magnesium and traditionally used herbs like valerian and ashwagandha come to mind) and the problem can often be at least alleviated if not completely cleared up.”


“A regular exercise regime can really help people with diabetes,” says Rob Whinnett. “Ideally aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming at least five days a week. Losing a little weight can also bring real gains. Aim to increase the fibre in your diet. A good fibre-rich bowl of porridge makes a great start to the day. A bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top can help with blood sugar balance. Your risk of heart disease is higher with diabetes, so make sure you check your blood sugar levels as often as the doctor recommends, have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis and your cholesterol levels tested once a year.”

Heart health

“Your heart is a muscle and, as with any muscle, exercise helps to strengthen it,” says Rob Whinnett. “Stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight and try not to stress. Omega-3 oils help to lower blood pressure and inflammation. Your local health store staff can advise on omega-3 supplements such as fish oils and other heart-healthy foods.”

“Heart health issues are regrettably still more prevalent among men,” says Gerald Colfer. “It’s wonderful to see so many men looking for natural remedies to improve cardiac health. Diet and activity levels are our first area to look for improvement, and supplements such as garlic, hawthorn, CoQ10, essential fats and pomegranate juice can help.”

Other help comes from:

  • Flaxseed oil, glucosamine and fish oil – help repair muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones.
  • Hawthorne berry and omega-3 – specific nutrients good for the heart.
  • Rhodiola – increases the body’s tolerance to various stressors, has an anti-depressant action, enhances mental abilities and benefits the immune system.


“It’s important to check with doctor that any enlargement of the prostate is benign,” says Rob Whinnett. “Saw palmetto can be used to treat prostate enlargement and its associated symptoms such as frequent urination or difficulty or pain when passing urine.”

Erectile disfunction

“Apart from common causes of erectile dysfunction like diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis, deficiencies of certain vitamins may also contribute to the development of ED,” says Dr AJ Horak. “Vitamin B3 improves your lipid profile as well as the function of the interior linings of blood vessels, both important factors in erectile function. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which has a direct effect on the bioactivity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, a chemical needed for erectile function.”

Eating for health

“A healthy, balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins, has been found to be beneficial for men’s health,” says Dr AJ Horak. “These nutrients seem to be lacking in most modern diets.”

“If you think that the area of natural health care and the preventative lifestyle are an exclusively female area think again,” says Gerald Colfer. “A natural lifestyle is something that can truly benefit us all. Men’s health is in our own hands – we often just need to take the first step.”

Discuss with a healthcare practitioner before beginning or stopping any medical or herbal treatment

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