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Androgens and Estrogens

Translated by: Joe Hing Kwok Chu 朱興國编譯

An androgen (androgenic hormone) is a steroid hormone, such as testosterone or androsterone, that controls the development and maintenance of masculine secondary sex characteristics.

Both males and females produce testosterone.  Men produce testosterone in the testes and adrenal glands and women produce testosterone in ovaries and adrenal glands.

The average male has 260 to 1,000 nanograms of testosterone per 100 c.c. of blood plasma and the average woman has 15 to 70 nanograms of testosterone per 100 c.c. of blood plasma.

Although the total amount of daily secretion of three types of androgen by the adrenal cortex is four times the amount of testosterone secreted by the testes (7 mg per day), the biological function of the androgen secreted by the adrenal cortex is weaker. The androgen is then rapidly inactivated by tissues like the liver and excreted. So under normal conditions the function of the androgen secreted by the adrenal cortex is very mild except in cases of hyperplasia or cancer of the adrenal cortex; then the secretion of adrenocortical hormones, glucocorticoid, mineral corticoid and androgen becomes greatly increased. If this happens in female patients, secondary male characteristics will appear.

The sex drive of men depends on the level of testosterone and the number of receptors they have in the body. Men with low testosterone can still have a normal sex drive if they have larger amount of receptors.

Usually the level of testosterone fluctuates during the day. In normal healthy men, the peak is around 8 a.m., and the low is around midnight. In men with shenyangxu condition, the curve of testosterone production can look like an inverted V.

As people age the sex hormone concentration in blood plasma changes. In normal men after middle age, the concentration of plasma female hormone, estradiol (E2) tends to rise, while the levels of plasma male hormone, testosterone (T)  tend to remain normal or slightly decrease. As men get older the estradiol starts to remain at steady levels and testosterone starts to drop.

Dropping of testosterone in men not only causes loss of libido and impotence but also causes other illnesses.

In 1976, Phillips found that of 15 middle aged male patients, 7 had a slower growth of beard, 3 had gynecomastia, and three had decreased libido before myocardial infarction occurred.  Four months before myocardiac infarction, plasma E2 rose significantly while levels of T were normal.

In 1982, researchers at the Shanghai Hypertension Clinic in China found that  E2 level and  or E2/T ratio increased respectively in patients with sick sinus syndrome (1981), as well as in those with Type II diabetes (1982), acute myocardial infarction (1983) and hypertension (1984).  Administration of kidney tonics and Yin-yang regulating herbal medicines or practice of certain type of qigong overcame various symptoms, and decreased, to various extents, the E2 levels and E2/T ratio.

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Last update: Dec 22, 2014; 6 p.m. LAH