Low Testosterone and Mitochondrial Function

In a functional medicine clinic, your practitioner will look into mitochondrial function as a possible cause of disease. Mitochondrial function can play a role in many psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and ALS. However, mitochondrial function plays a huge role in the synthesis of sex hormones as well.

In addition to being the powerhouse of the cell, mitochondria have many other tasks. One task is creating testosterone from cholesterol that is carried into the mitochondria by the STAR protein. If you asked most physicians if mitochondria play a role in sex hormone synthesis, then most of them would be oblivious to this fact. We shouldn’t only be looking into the mitochondria for these different neurodegenerative conditions. We should also be looking into this for athletes and people suffering with low testosterone.

Low Testosterone and Dopamine

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is involved in your reward cascade. When people are risk takers, they typically have low dopamine. People who are more likely to worry and be careful, typically have high dopamine. But how does this play a role with testosterone.

These two chemicals are closely related. They actually run together, so to speak. As dopamine goes up, testosterone will go up as well. So if we analyze dopamine and find that its low in a person with low testosterone, then we can start to support the reward cascade. This can often bring testosterone levels back up as they follow the rising dopamine.


Low testosterone and Autoimmunity

Autoimmunity can strike anywhere in the body. Multiple Sclerosis is autoimmunity of the lining of the immune system. Psoriasis is autoimmunity of the skin. Hashimoto’s is autoimmunity of the thyroid.

Autoimmunity can also affect the testicles. In this instance, the immune system will mount an assault on this tissue and break it down over time. This is a big problem. As the testes break down, the body’s ability to create testosterone will diminish. If this person is given hormone replacement, then their need for the therapy will grow over time. Clearly, this is not getting to the root of the problem.

In functional medicine, the practitioner will screen for autoimmunity of the testicles as one of the possible causes of low testosterone.

Low Testosterone and DHT

This is the sixth video in Dr. Ball’s video blog series on finding the cause or causes of low testosterone. Instead of just giving you testosterone replacement, one thing that we can do is check the levels of DHT. This stands for dihydrotestosterone. This chemical is a powerful androgen but it is unable to be utilized in the same way that testosterone is utilized. Functional medicine practitioners will look into this to determine if the cause of low testosterone is upregulated 5-alpha-reductase causing an increase of the DHT levels.

Be sure to work with a functional medicine provider or a practitioner who understands these mechanisms, when working with someone to improve low testosterone.

Low Testosterone, Estrogen, and Aromatase

This is the fifth video in our series on testosterone. Most people do not know this, but there is a chemical that your body can make that causes your testosterone to turn into estrogen. This chemical is called aromatase.

In a functional medicine or alternative medicine clinic, a person with low testosterone is going to have their estrogen checked. This is to make sure that their body isn’t using aromatase to create an issue where the person has too much estrogen and too little testosterone.

If you are suffering with low testosterone, or know someone who is suffering from low testosterone, be sure to work with a practitioner who knows to look into these different things.

Low testosterone, the liver, and sex hormone binding globulin

This is the fourth video in the video series on low testosterone.

When you are working with a functional medicine clinician or an alternative medicine clinician, one area that may be check is the liver and detoxification. Many people know that the liver affects how they detoxify metals and other chemicals. However, many people do not know the intimate relationship between the liver and their hormone levels. One way that testosterone can be influenced by the liver is through the action of sex hormone binding globulin. If this is too high because the liver is inappropriately producing too much, then a person will have less functional testosterone in their body.