This is my latest article published in the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy Journal.
Men are often overlooked when it comes to issues dealing with their health. What we don’t always recognize is that they face many of the same concerns as women, especially in the autumn of their life. They aren’t always very good at expressing themselves for fear of sounding weak, whereas women tend to be much more vocal about their feelings and have a great support system of friends. The result is men are left to deal with these questions by themselves.
Many of the concerns including weight gain, aging, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thinning hair, aching muscles and joints are common issues as men age. In addition, many middle age men find themselves outplaced in today’s job market while they still have many productive years ahead of them. In the cases where they are the primary bread winner, this can bring on stress, anger, resentment and even depression.
In my practice I treat mostly women. It is rare that I have a male client, and when I do it is because their wife pushed them to see me. Women are usually more open to seeking alternative methods for their health whereas men are not. I recently spoke to a small group of men asking what issues concern them the most as they age and how they felt about integrative medicine. I also asked how they felt about the concept of mind, body and spirit being responsible for good health. All agreed that stress is the number one issue they face but concern about prostate cancer and hair loss were close seconds. They also expressed concern over heart disease. One gentleman responded "old age" concerns me! I gave each of them an aromatherapy oil blend that I created for anxiety and stress relief that consisted of a blend of roman chamomile (Anthemis noblis) which is well known for its calming properties, organic geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) that is emotionally balancing and relaxing, organic lavandin super (Lavandula hybrid var. super) which according to a study by Dr. Jane Buckle states that Lavandin (Lavandula hybrid var. super) (which is a hybrid of two different species of lavender) is even more effective for calming anxiety than regular lavender, organic ylang (Cananga odorata) which is very calming and known for its ability to help lower blood pressure, and frankincense (Boswellia sacra) which has always been used for meditation. It is calming and centering and even helps with despair and grief, and organic petitgrain (Citrus aurantium) which is helpful for anxiety, panic attacks, heart palpitations and can act as an antidepressant. I asked them to inhale it when they felt stressed, as well as place it on the bottoms of their feet at night for a more restful sleep. Lavandin (Lavandula hybrid var. super) and Roman chamomile (Anthemis noblis) can also be used alone as single oils to inhale in those times of stress if you don’t want to make or purchase a blend.
Another issue men worry about as they age is prostate cancer. Caught in time it can be treated successfully. As with any health issue the best medicine is prevention. More studies are showing that compounds in both green tea and pomegranate ( Punica granatum) can prevent and slow the spread of prostate cancer. Drinking 2-4 cups of green tea daily has shown to help prevent prostate cancer as well as heart disease. Recent studies have shown that pomegranate juice and extract can slow the growth and even kill cancer cells depending on the dose. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is also an herb that has been used for benign prostatic hyperplasia (which is the slow growth of the prostate). According to James A. Duke, Ph.D., a master herbalist and author of The Green Pharmacy; Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) may also be helpful to encourage hair growth.
Hair loss in men can affect their self-confidence. However, shaving the head has now become very fashionable. But for those men who still prefer a healthy head of hair essential oils can also help encourage hair follicle growth. Marge Clark from Nature’s Gift makes a blend of these oils with thyme (Thymus vulgaris), rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica). Many times hair loss can be from nutritional deficiencies from a person’s diet. There is no substitute for a healthy diet full of vegetables, healthy protein, nuts, whole grains seeds and fruit. Making sure you get enough omega three fatty acids is also important for healthy hair growth in addition to helping with other problems such as inflammation, arthritis, heart disease and depression. Foods such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, flax seeds or walnuts are very helpful to obtain an adequate amount of omega three fatty acids, however, you may also want to take a supplement every day.
We can’t talk about creating a healthy life without exercise. We all should exercise throughout our whole life and as we age it helps keep our immune system functioning optimally by warding off disease and helps keep our muscles and joints flexible so we can avoid the aches and pains that can often accompany aging. Essential oils are wonderful for muscle and joint paint. Oils such as Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis var cineole), German (or Blue) Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale) and Black Pepper Essential Oil (Piper nigrum) all have anti-inflammatory properties while increasing circulation to help relieve pain and swelling. I like using them in a base of Arnica infused oil. Arnica is used for bruises, pain, sprains and swelling of joints and muscles. It is also very beneficial for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Let’s also not forget about having a circle of people that you enjoy being with. This can raise your serotonin which is your happy hormone. We always think of women and their girlfriends however, men also benefit from being social. The MacArthur Successful Aging Study found that men with social connections had a lower rate of bodily inflammation which can lead to heart disease than men without social connections.
So for the men out there, eat right, exercise, enjoy friends and family, do things you love, and keep your medicine cabinet stocked with some of these great essential oils! Healthy aging is up to you!
Best of health,