Acupuncture for Men's Health

Men may experience a number of changes throughout their lives.  Some of these changes may be in the realm of sexual health (such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and prostatitis) but many men also experience other health challenges, such as low back pain, depression, and insomnia.  Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for all of these conditions.  Through the use of fine needles at specific points along areas of the body, acupuncture works to stimulate the body’s own healing responses by addressing the root causes of disease, as does naturopathic medicine.  This makes these two health systems a wonderful fit.


As a naturopathic doctor certified in acupuncture the unique opportunity I have when using acupuncture is that I can utilize many other treatments at the same time.  Low back pain, depression, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction are all well treated with a combination of therapies…acupuncture plus nutrition, herbal medicine, supplementation, spinal adjustments, and/or pharmaceutical prescriptions.  Being certified in prescriptive authority, I have access to all of these treatments to best help my patients improve their health.  Naturopathic doctors can also order lab tests, perform physical exams, and customize treatment options to round out the best program for you.


Many men experience low back pain and know how impactful pain can be on their life and work.  Finding effective treatments is important.  Both traditional acupuncture and ear acupuncture can help improve low back pain and decrease the sensation of pain. This can lead to improved function and get you moving well again. Acupuncture used alongside other therapies such as spinal alignment and soft tissue massage may further increase the chance of success.


Depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia are experienced by many people and still, it is difficult for many men to talk about it and seek help.  Acupuncture has been shown to reduce symptoms in some experiencing depression.  Ear acupuncture can be effective at reducing anxiety.  Stress is closely tied to mental health and has impacts on both sleep quality and mental wellbeing.  Both traditional and ear acupuncture work to reduce stress by improving parasympathetic tone (our “rest and digest” state), which may address the root cause for some with insomnia.  In conjunction with other strategies to promote mental wellbeing, like diet, exercise, herbal medicine, and supplementation, a combined protocol takes into account the unique situation affecting you.


Male sexual health concerns can also be addressed using acupuncture.  Studies have shown positive results in reducing urination difficulties in those with prostatitis (inflamed prostate).  It can also be effective at improving premature ejaculation and some types of erectile dysfunction.


The number of health concerns that acupuncture can be utilized for, either alone or in conjunction with other therapies, along with being safe and with few side effects, makes it an excellent treatment choice for many men’s health concerns.  To find out if acupuncture and naturopathic medicine is right for you, contact Dr. Peters for a free “meet and greet”.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic physician who works at the Macdonald Centre for Natural Medicine.

As always, this is purely general health-related information and is not meant to substitute for a visit with a regulated healthcare practitioner.  Always consult your licensed naturopathic doctor or medical doctor should you have any questions or concerns

Hormone Testing: What it Really Reveals

In my naturopathic medical practice, I commonly have patients come in who want to have their hormones tested. They feel something isn’t right. They don’t feel their best, and they suspect that hormones are to blame, so they want to be tested. But hormone testing isn’t as simple as it seems. We have to find the right type of test for the individual. The good news is that there are more options than ever for investigating hormone imbalances in men and women. With the right information, we can target our therapies to directly address the core of the issue and get better results faster.

When premenopausal women have something clearly abnormal going on with their hormones, it’s a good idea to do blood hormone testing. For instance, if a woman rarely or never menstruates, we need to rule out conditions like pituitary tumors, autoimmune diseases of the ovaries, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (a.k.a. Anovulatory Androgen Excess). I generally run an extensive panel of pituitary and ovarian hormone levels in those cases.

If a woman is menstruating normally but still feels her hormones are off, the utility of blood testing is questionable. Testing must be timed with the cycle to make any sense of the numbers. But the reference ranges of what is considered normal are so large that most times women will be told they fall somewhere within what’s considered the “normal” range. That’s not helpful for someone who is infertile, or who suffers from serious PMS, low libido or chronic fatigue.

In cases where we need more information to get to the root of the hormone imbalance, urinary hormone panels are proving to provide a lot of nuanced information. The advantage of a comprehensive urinary hormone metabolite analysis is that it not only gives information about the typical hormones like estrogens, progesterone, androgens, cortisol and melatonin, but it also looks at their precursors or parent hormone. So if any levels are off, we can look upstream to see where the problem started. Urinary hormone testing also shows how the hormones are being metabolized or broken down. Sometimes it’s the breakdown products of the hormones that are the problem.

We also know that all the hormones are deeply connected. The thyroid, pituitary, ovarian/testicular, and adrenal hormones all affect each other. Urinary hormone testing can give insights as to the interplay of these four systems. Then we can target our efforts to get the greatest ripple effect on the whole hormone system.

Salivary hormone testing is another option for hormone testing, but it just isn’t the best way to test for hormones like estrogen and testosterone. I reserve this method for testing the adrenal hormones cortisol and DHEA. For people with insomnia, chronic fatigue, or anxiety, getting insight on the hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis can shed light on these chronic issues. Since cortisol levels change throughout the day, it’s great to be able to collect a simple salivary sample four times a day. That said, urinary hormone metabolite panels also can be done four times a day, and they provide all that information and much more.

To monitor hormone levels in women who need to take prescription hormone replacement therapy in perimenopause and menopause, blood testing or even urinary testing can be utilized. Naturopathic physicians can order these lab tests for their patients, and extended health insurance often helps cover the costs. Our local Lifelabs offers both blood testing and urinary hormone testing.
So if you have been told your hormones are “normal” but you suspect that something is not quite right, there may be other ways to get answers.

Boosting Testosterone Naturally by Dr. Shawn Peters, ND

Testosterone is a sex hormone, often thought of as the “male” hormone (though males simply have more of it, as females have more estrogen).  Testosterone often provides the spark that can be fundamental to the experience of many men, like robust energy, libido, and strength.  Decreased levels of testosterone can result in low energy, reduced libido, a loss of muscle mass and increase in abdominal fat, as well as changes in mood and cognition.

Naturopathic doctors, through lab testing, physical exam, and thorough history taking, can work to diagnose the cause of decreased testosterone levels, so the correct treatment can be given.  A common cause is called Andropause, a term that refers to the changes in hormone levels with age (akin to changes during menopause in women).  Declining testosterone levels as we age are at least partly responsible for the changes many men experience in their 30’s, 40’s, and beyond.  Not only do levels of testosterone decrease as we age, but the amount of estrogen in relation to testosterone may increase.

A thorough investigation is important to determine the root cause.  In an initial appointment I determine which of the main factors may be playing a role for you…diet and exercise patterns, stress and sleep factors, as well as any underlying health conditions.  Decreased testosterone levels may be associated with certain conditions, like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  Removing any obstacles to you feeling great helps provide a solid foundation for your body to optimally regulate testosterone levels.

There are many tools to help men who are experiencing changes during this time.  Working to optimize diet & nutrients, exercise, and weight management (especially abdominal weight) are all key aspects of a successful plan.

At the same time, many herbal medicines are excellent at improving energy levels and sexual function while reducing irritability and mental fatigue associated with changes in testosterone.  Herbs used successfully may include Eleuthro, Rhodiola, Pine pollen, and many more.  Hops, while being a useful herbal medicine in certain situations, are abundant in beer and too much may worsen the situation.  Herbal licorice root too should be avoided in andropause.

Acupuncture is also shown to be beneficial for male sexual health and hormone balancing, as well as boosting energy.
As a licensed naturopathic doctor, I use any and all of these tools to help every person as an individual look and feel their best.  I strive to listen and educate, assessing your needs and goals so we can work together to keep you vital and healthy in the future.  We may not be able to stop testosterone levels from declining with age, but you and I can work together so you can feel strong and vital with good energy and libido, no matter your age.

As always, this is purely general health-related information and is not meant to substitute for a visit with a regulated healthcare practitioner.  Always consult your licensed naturopathic doctor or medical doctor should you have any questions or concerns.
Dr. Shawn Peters is a naturopathic physician.  He works at the MCNM in downtown Courtenay.