The Testosterone Factor Testosterone is central to a man’s sexual response, including the desire for sex and the mechanics of triggering an erection. In fact, testosterone modulates nearly every step involved in gaining and maintaining an erection, from the nerves in the pelvis to the smooth muscle and endothelial cells of the corpora cavernosa. This He-Man ­ hormone also regulates sexual desire and the timing of the erectile process. Drugs like Viagra and Cialis only improve blood flow temporarily and do nothing to influence testosterone. Testosterone replacement therapy is a treatment of choice, but there is a great deal of confusion over when it is appropriate to use. In most cases, blood levels have to get very low before your doctor will even consider it. Although there has been some controversy on safety of testosterone therapy, the consensus is that it is safe when used appropriately. Fortunately,you can support healthy testosterone levels when you are in that grey area of lab values and symptoms with a variety of safe,time- tested herbs and nutrients. Boost Your “T” Naturally Known as secretagogues, these herbs act as testosterone precursors, encouraging the body to increase its own production of testosterone and enhance desire. Taken separately, they can improve erectile function. But when they are taken together, they have a synergistic effect that heightens both your performance and your experience. Codonopsis lanceolata root has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Considered to have similar, yet milder benefits as ginseng, this centuries-old herb was often used to treat respiratory ailments, stomach upset, and nervous disorders. Packed with flavonoids and other bioactives, modern-day studies suggest that codonopsis root helps increase testosterone levels in the blood and may help to restore some forms of ED. Longjack, also known as tongkat ali, has long been used by men looking to enhance both their performance and libido. Indeed, new findings show that this Asian herb contains compounds that directly enhance testosterone production by changing the ratio of cortisol to testosterone. It worked so well in one trial that more than 90 percent of participants showed normal testosterone levels after taking supplemental longjack for one month. Other research found that the herb increases testosterone concentrations by as much as 30 percent. But longjack’s benefits don’t end with testosterone. Longjack increases sperm production and may directly act as a pro-erectile agent. At least one compound in the herb has also been tied to delayed ejaculation. To get all of the benefits longjack has to offer, look for products that offer a 4:1 extract of the herb. Beyond Testosterone Low testosterone is one of the most common causes of ED, these other conditions are either associated with low testosterone or can be caused by low testosterone: • Atherosclerosis •  High blood pressure • Alteration in lipid profiles •  Diabetes •  Stroke •  Radiation therapy •  Depression •  Chronic stress •  Certain pharmaceutical or recreational drugs • Alcohol abuse •  Smoking •  Osteoporosis •  Prostate problems MEN’S HEALTH 3