Healthy aging for him: Natural ingredients tackle men’s health issues | Flomentum
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Healthy aging for him: Natural ingredients tackle men’s health issues

Healthy aging for him: Natural ingredients tackle men’s health issues

Saw Palmetto Relieves Symptoms of Enlarged Prostate

One tried-and-true men’s health ingredient is continuing to build credibility as a prostate-support supplement. A 2023 in vitro study examined the effects of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) extract on 5-alpha-reductase expression in a set of cell cultures. The study, conducted and funded by Valensa International (Eustis, FL), compared the effects of Valensa’s branded USPlus saw palmetto extract and the saw palmetto extract drug Permixon from French company Pierre Fabre Medicament.1

Both saw palmetto extracts were found to be strong inhibitors of both 5-alpha-reductase type 1 and 5-alpha-reductase type 2. In fact, the effects of both extracts were nearly identical. Given these results, the study authors concluded that Valensa’s proprietary S. repens extract may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Uma Pal, Valensa’s CEO, says in the last two years the body of research around saw palmetto and prostate health has grown significantly. Other emerging evidence supports lipidosterolic extract of Serenoa repens (LSESr) as a first-line supplement for lower urinary tract symptoms in men.

“Experts agree that the effectiveness of LSESr is related to the use of a product with a standardized lipid profile,” Pal explains. “Use of quality, standardized LSESr can support prostate and urinary tract health, can support urinary flow and control, and can address urinary frequency and urgency.”

Maca Root Supports Testosterone Production

As men age, testosterone production naturally tends to decline, bringing with it a variety of health problems. For instance, lower testosterone levels can result in anemia, erectile dysfunction, reduced bone mass, and a decline in mental health, says Sarah Goncalves, technical business development manager for nutraceuticals at Univar Solutions (Chicago). Supporting testosterone production during aging is key, and researchers are investigating which ingredients might help.

“A new clinical study on maca root (Lepidium meyenii) demonstrates the benefit of this Peruvian root in men’s health products,” Goncalves says. “The study found that 1 g of maca daily resulted in statistically significant improvements in multiple symptoms associated with hypogonadism.” Hypogonadism refers to reduced testosterone production.

The study, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, examined the effects of maca root on hypogonadism, prostate symptoms, and erectile function in 80 male subjects over age 40. The subjects were randomly assigned to receive either the maca root supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks. During the entire study, the subjects in the maca root group took two 1,000-mg maca tablets three times per day, for a total dose of 6 g of maca per day.2

The subjects were assessed via the Androgen Deficiency in Aging Males (ADAM) questionnaire, the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) questionnaire, the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), and the Aging Males Symptoms (AMS) scale. The subjects also had their blood drawn and were assessed for total testosterone, free testosterone, cholesterol, and body weight at baseline and after 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks, the subjects in the maca group reported statistically significant improvements on the AMS. Androgen deficiency rates in the maca group also fell, indicating significant improvements in androgen deficiency symptoms. While the placebo group showed no improvement in erectile function scores, the group receiving maca root showed great improvements at 4 weeks and at 12 weeks. Maca root consumption also resulted in improvements in prostate symptoms. The study authors determined that maca root may be a promising alternative therapy for age-related hypogonadism.

Billygoat Weed Reduces Hair Loss, Supports Prostate

One surprising ingredient that has found room to play in the men’s health arena is billygoat weed (Ageratum conyzoides). Native to Brazil, this plant extract has shown the ability to promote hair growth in men with male-pattern baldness.

A recent, yet-to-be-published, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined the effects of Gencor’s (Irvine, CA) branded A. conyzoides extract, HairAge Vitae, on hair growth in both men and women. The trial found that after 12 weeks, HairAge Vitae supplementation reduced hair recession and improved hair density compared to placebo, the company says. HairAge Vitae also caused a significant reduction in 5-alpha-reductase type 2, which is a biomarker for hair loss, as well as a reduction in prostaglandins.

Maggie McNamara, marketing director for Gencor, says in vitro studies have shown that HairAge Vitae can inhibit 5-alpha-reductase and reduce expression of prostaglandin D2 and E2. A human clinical trial is currently underway to validate these results, she says.

Pine Bark Improves Erectile Function in Diabetes

The relationship between diabetes and erectile dysfunction has been well established in scientific literature. Now, emerging research indicates that one polyphenol-rich compound may have benefits that can aid diabetes patients suffering from erectile dysfunction.

One 2019 randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial examined the effects of Pycnogenol, a branded French maritime pine bark extract distributed by Horphag Research (Hoboken, NJ), on erectile function and lipid profile in 53 erectile dysfunction patients. The study divided subjects into a group that received 120 mg of Pycnogenol per day (n = 32) and a group that received a placebo (n = 21). The Pycnogenol group was then further subdivided into a subgroup of 15 patients with diabetes and 17 patients without diabetes, while the placebo group was divided into a group of 10 patients with diabetes and 11 without diabetes.3

Subjects were assessed for erectile function via the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire at baseline and at each of four study visits. The subjects also provided blood samples at baseline and on visits 1, 3, and 4.

The study found that Pycnogenol significantly improved erectile function in the patients with diabetes, reducing severity from severe to moderate. Meanwhile, the subjects without diabetes experienced improved erectile function but continued to have moderate erectile dysfunction. The placebo groups did not see a change in IIEF-5 scores. No adverse events were reported.

Longjack Increases Testosterone Levels

Emerging research shows that longjack (Eurycoma longifolia), or tongkat ali, can support testosterone production in middle-aged men. One study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial, examined the effects of longjack and concurrent physical training on testosterone levels and erectile function in aging men with androgen deficiency.4

For six months, the subjects, men aged 40 to 59 with low testosterone levels, were randomly assigned to receive either 1) a placebo (n = 12), 2) 200 mg/day of HP Ingredients’ (Bradenton, FL) LJ100 branded longjack extract (n = 11), 3) a placebo while undergoing concurrent training (n = 11), or 4) 200 mg/day of longjack extract plus concurrent training (n = 11). The subjects had their blood drawn and completed the Aging Males Symptoms scale, the IIEF-5 scale, and a demographic questionnaire at baseline and after one, four, and six months.

After six months, the men undergoing concurrent training in both the placebo and longjack conditions experienced improvements in erectile function scores. The most significant increase was in the exercise group that supplemented with longjack. The exercise group supplemented with longjack also exhibited a significant improvement in testosterone levels. While exercise and longjack were both independently associated with improved sexual function, pairing the two together created the strongest effect.

Men’s Health Going Strong

A variety of herbal ingredients are finding ways to support men in their healthy-aging journey, from sexual function and testosterone production to prostate support and hair loss. As research into these ingredients continues, expect the men’s health space to see more product launches addressing more conditions.


  1. Cartwright, E.J.; Dohnalek, M.H.; Hill, W.S. Lipid Profile and 5alpha-Reductase Inhibition Activity of Proprietary Ultrahigh-Pressure Supercritical Carbon Dioxide and Hexane Saw Palmetto Extracts. Uro. 2023, 3 (1), 27-39. DOI: 10.3390/uro3010005
  2. Shin, D.; Jeon, S.H.; Piao, J.; et al. Efficacy and Safety of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Patients with Symptoms of Late-Onset Hypogonadism: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. World J Mens Health.Published online ahead of print January 1, 2023. DOI: 10.5534/wjmh.220112
  3. Trebaticky, B.; Muchova, J.; Ziaran, S.; Bujdak, P.; Breza, J.; Durackova, Z. Natural Polyphenols Improve Erectile Function and Lipid Profile in Patients Suffering from Erectile Dysfunction. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2019, 120 (12), 941-944. DOI: 10.4149/BLL_2019_158
  4. Leitao, A.E.; de Souza Vieira, M.C.; Pelegrini, A.; da Silva, E.L.; de Azevedo Guimaraes, A.C. A 6-Month, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Trial to Evaluate the Effect of Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali) and Concurrent Training on Erectile Function and Testosterone Levels in Androgen Deficiency of Aging Males (ADAM). Maturitas. 2021, 145, 78-85. DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.12.002
  5. New Research Shows Natural Antioxidant Pycnogenol Effective in Improving Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment. News release. Pycnogenol; August 2, 2018.
  6. Chan K.Q.; Stewart, C.; Chester, N.; Hamzah, S.H; Yusof, A. The Effect of Eurycoma longifolia on the Regulation of Reproductive Hormones in Young Males. Andrologia. 2021, 53 (4), e14001. DOI: 10.1111/and.14001