In this new interview with Mark Wilson we dive deep into testosterone (and related hormones) for men.
The main reason I wanted to bring him on was to discuss an interesting and different cycling method for working with the hormonal herbs. You’ll get to learn all about that and much more.
I was taking notes myself during this call for new tips and tricks to try out.
- Why Testosterone is the Happiness Hormone, and on having a Zest for Life vs. an Impending Sense of Doom
- Noting the ‘Brain Feel’ of Herbs
- One Thing to Take with Herbs to Improve Absorption and Assimilation
- Behaving in a Reproductive Manner
- How Nagging can Skyrocket Your Cortisol Levels
- Did you know this Vitamin is an Aromatase Inhibitor?
- The #1 Issue to Tackle for Low T
- Two Ways to Tell Your DHT might be Too High
- The Frontal Assault Method of Cycling Herbs to Combat the Negative Feedback Loop Mechanism
- And Much More
Click the link below to access the complete transcript.
The content found on the Vital Way podcast in Superman Herbs is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, for the diagnosis or treatment of a health condition or as a substitute for medical counseling. Please review any information with your qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions concerning your health. You assume all risk for use, misuse or disuse of this information.
Logan: Hey, it’s Logan Christopher here with the Vital Way podcast. I’m very excited. Today, we have a very special guest on the call, Mark Wilson, who I got introduced to a little while ago, I’d say probably a few months. Definitely we talked herbs, testosterone and all kinds of different things. I wanted to bring him on this call especially because he has a really cool idea that we’re going to delve deeper into about cycling hormonal herbs. We got a lot of questions about that on the website and we could give you some more information from the man himself who came up with this idea. But before we get there, I’d love to welcome you to the call, Mark.
Mark: Thanks, Logan. Glad to be here.
Logan: Can you tell us a bit of your background, how you got into this field and started working with herbs?
Mark: The main thing for me wasn’t really an academic type thing. It was when I turned 40, I started having problems with sexual function, motivation and libido, and energy. Basically, my life just kind of tanked. I remember watching a video with my wife on the couch and there was this one particular scene where I raised my arm, I looked at the arm and it looked just weak, thin, loss of muscle mass. I’ve always been an easy gainer, always carried muscle. I’ve done sports all my life and I looked at that and I thought something is not right here.
At that point, I decided to start trying to figure out what the problem was because it wasn’t just the look of my body. It was really a zest for life thing, the lack of will to go out and conquer life, to get stuff done and to be totally honest, to have regular sexual relations with my wife. I just kind of lost the mojo to do that. I’ve had this for a long time now since 2009 and it’s a real common problem. When you start to lose your hormones and you kind of head down that path towards low testosterone and high cortisol, you start packing on weight and you lose muscle, it drastically changes the quality of your life. That’s kind of what set me on the journey down this herbal path. It was to try to fix that situation.
Logan: Yeah, like you said, that’s a big point that you lost that zest for life. We have heard testosterone described as the success hormone and a lot of people think of it in terms of being able to keep muscle and also sexual function but really it’s critical for so much more than that.
Mark: Yeah, I look at it as the happiness hormone. When we talk about herbs, I use testosterone as kind of a global term but it really has to do with a dance between several different hormones. It’s just that testosterone is the easy one to focus on. There’s dopamine and then there’s cortisol, which can be good and bad. The bottom line is you want to have a balance between the hormones to where the zest you had and if you’ve had it, you know what it’s like. Let me ask you this, Logan. Have you ever had a bad day when you woke up with plenty of sex drive?
Logan: Not that I can think of off the top of my head.
Mark: Physiologically, it’s virtually impossible because when you have sex drive, you have the hormones you need to make you happy because you get busy in life. There’s a performance thing. Men are really good at focusing on one thing at a time, dialing in, taking care of business, getting stuff done and a huge part of that, the sex drive that fuels all that is driven by your base hormonal state and if that hormonal state falls out of whack, it’s hard to be happy. It really is.
Logan: I’ve described it from my studies with Chinese medicine, it’s that sort of ying drive that we have that is the same thing sexually. You’ve got to have it there but that means you’re going to be able to have athletic success, you’re going to be able to have business success, basically success in any field that you want to have.
Mark: Yeah, it’s really the driver behind male happiness. I mean there was a really interesting study that came out of Harvard recently. They took people and started evaluating what state they were in mentally and the people whose minds were wandering, specifically men who like bouncing from topic to topic, not dialing in on a specific thing, were the most likely to be depressed. The thing that testosterone does for a man is it gives you the drive to accomplish things. Like I mentioned earlier, men are really good when the dial in on a thing and go out and get it done. Whether it’s food, shelter, chasing women, security, testosterone is a thing that drives all those.
For example in sports, the analogue today if you compare that to the past would be hunting and fighting. You have to make up and do that stuff. You have to go out and whether it’s in the boardroom or it’s out in the sports field, a man has to wake up and have a sense of purpose in life. You have to go after specific things because if you don’t—think about two dogs. This is going to be kind of a weird analogy. Let’s say you have this fat dog that lays on the porch all day. He doesn’t end up digging up the garden, running around the neighborhood chasing tail. He’s just kind of lying there. Say you have another dog who’s lean. He’s out there running around, trying to find female dogs to breed with. Which one do you think is going to have more testosterone? It’s going to be the one that has specific focus to accomplish certain things in life.
That’s what an optimal hormonal state gives you. Herbs are a pathway to that. They’re a side dish and they can definitely help once you hit a certain baseline. Once you have a certain level of health, they can really take things to the next level if you use them appropriately.
Logan: Absolutely. Of course we focus on the herbs, I think, accompanying that but really have this holistic view. Just taking the herbs won’t give you optimal testosterone. It has to do with what you eat, what you drink, your sleep, lifestyle, with how you train and all sorts of other factors. Could you give like an overview? You mentioned like the dance of hormones. How do you sort of approach working with hormones and optimizing them?
Mark: If you were looking at the bedrock, the foundation of everything is your relationship between physically muscle and body fat has to be directed towards muscle. You can’t allow body fat to take over because then you’ve got aromatase converting your testosterone to estrogen. When you’re converting too much of your testosterone, a really common thing for men that are in that state is an impending sense of doom where you don’t have optimal testosterone, you have too much estrogen, you’re putting fat on in the wrong places and you kind of walk around with this feeling like the world’s going to end soon. I think part of that is the lack of focus where you’re not focusing on one thing, trying to achieve an objective, get things done, move your life forward. Then I think it also comes from the fact that you’re taking in more of a feminine profile and that’s just not the way to achieve happiness in a Homo sapiens male.
Testosterone needs to be riding shotgun. Obviously, you need estrogen and plenty of other hormones but you want to have those main hormones out in front because a) you’re going to look better; the opposite sex is going to be attracted to you from the pheromones you’re putting off, the way you look, the way you act and yes, if you’re married, the woman you’re sleeping with already, she will like you better with more testosterone if you direct it appropriately. There’s just a global sense of masculinity that a guy needs, I believe, to be happy.
Logan: I agree with you. So if someone came to you with low testosterone, what would you recommend to them?
Mark: Well, the first thing they need to do is get their body fat levels where they should be. Another thing that a lot of people don’t do is they don’t get out in natural sunlight. Vitamin D is the natural aromatase inhibitor so you have to maximize your vitamin D levels because it’s actually more of a hormone than it is a vitamin. You have to increase fat-soluble vitamin intake. If you had chicken breast, white rice and steamed broccoli with olive oil on it, you’ve got literally zero vitamin A and vitamin A is like the bedrock fat-soluble for testosterone production. So dump the olive oil. Eat some grass-fed beef or whatever turns you on as far as meat but not a dry chicken breast that is basically pure protein and use things like grass-fed butter and increase your fat-soluble intake.
Another huge, huge thing is avoiding estrogen mimics in the environment. If you’re waking up and spreading Right Guard on your underarms, putting on cologne, you clean your house with conventional cleaners, you’re literally flooding your system with compounds that have a negative impact on your ability to synthesize, manufacture—and this is right down to the testicular level—male hormones. If I were to rank them, I’d probably put body fat first, getting chemicals out and then just maximizing nutrient intake. Give your body the substrate it needs to actually build the hormones. Then you’ve got to move your body.
Then kind of an odd thing but something many men don’t think about is you have to behave in a reproductive manner. Going back to that dog example, he’s going out there and he is pursuing engagement in a sexual manner with a female. If you’re lying around in your house and you never engage in that behavior and even worse, if your relationship is bad and you’re a victim of nagging, that’s going to increase cortisol, it’s not conducive to hormone production. So you keep your body fat down, avoid estrogens, get natural sunlight, increase fat-soluble vitamin intake and then when you get a little spike in hormones, take advantage of that and start acting like a sexually fit male and copulate. It’s really important. A lot of men forget about that.
Logan: It’s interesting. It’s going both ways that if you have higher testosterone levels, you’re going to have more of a sex drive and go out there but also some studies have looked at when you have sex, that increases your testosterone. So it’s really happening on both sides.
Mark: Yes, it definitely does. It’s a big loop and you have to keep on the wheel. You kind of have to look at your life as what your objective is because once you’ve dialed in and nailed that objective, you’ve entered a higher level of thinking like what is the reason that I’m doing this? The answer to that equation is happiness, period. That’s the end of it. Because when you lose that stuff, the hormones, the drive and really the motivation to just get out of bed and do stuff, it’s not conducive to happiness. You have to attack life. Look at it like a native running around in the wild. You’ve got to go out and you’ve got to find shelter, protect your environment, build, create, develop security and reproduce. You have to bring this analogue out of nature into the modern world. You’re not going to catch that if you’re 40 pounds overweight, if you’re taking multiple meds, you watch TV every night and you’re living on the McDonald’s diet.
I send out emails a few times a week to about 20,000 men now and usually when an email goes out, I get 30 or 40 responses back. This is the major problem – they’re looking to take an herb to fix the situation but they haven’t laid the foundation. You’ve got to go out there and take care of those basic things first. When you do and you have everything right—you don’t have to be a fitness model—you need to be heading in the right direction. Once you have that, the herbs can really work magic. So it’s really getting that mindset, deciding where you want to go and why. Happiness is the reason and there’s nothing more important than that aside from your health. So you make the decision and then you create rituals, start knocking these things out. I call them protocols in my email. So whatever your problem is, if it’s weight, choose a protocol, develop a ritual, knock it out and then when you start making progress, use the herbs and it can take things into the stratosphere if you do it appropriately.
Logan: Well, let’s dive into those herbs now. I think that’s some great advice on the foundation. I’d definitely recommend it myself to other people before. Starting with the herbs, what would you say are some of your favorite herbs for helping with testosterone and the other related hormones of course?
Mark: That’s an easy question to answer because what did I take today? I had a huge day today that was ending with a podcast so I needed to be up. I took tongkat ali because it pushes your testes to increase the production of testosterone by triggering hormonal signals to your hypothalamus and your pituitary. It reduces cortisol. It cuts back on the binding of SHBG and some people say it even increase blood flow. But the thing with tongkat is I can take a very large dose of tongkat and I’ve never had a negative and if I cycle it, it’s always just like that kick in the seat of the pants. So tongkat ali is by far my favorite.
Then if I were to go down from there, I’d probably say pine pollen. I really like pine pollen. I look forward to pine pollen days. Tongkat ali brings on probably more motivation but pine pollen is a really, for me at least because these things hit people differently, good when you know you’re going to have some solo time with your females because it’s great for erectile issues. It just brings on wood when you cycle it and take it the right way. When you use it and like I said engage in reproductive activity, you walk out of that bedroom, you’re feeling pretty good and so is your girl so it’s more of that global physiological, the base hormonal level that you just feel better about everything. You’re more productive. You’re happier. You’re more energetic, forward-thinking and you’re not worrying about the small stuff in life.
That’s the thing about men. Focus on something bit that’s going to improve your life. Get off the couch. Do things. These herbs can help you get there if you use them and take the energy they give you to create something in your life.
Logan: Good. It’s funny that the term is procreation and the root of that is “create.” It’s that same energy that is driving different types of creation. Whether it’s reproductive or not, it’s really essentially the same thing.
Mark: Yeah, it is. People use herbs for different things. A lot of them use them as adaptogens to kind of help handle stress and calm. The thing with me though is I’ve always found when I have high sex drive and I’m killing it in the world, I don’t have any stress. The main thing for me is I want to wake up in the morning—I don’t know how far we can go on the PG-13 content—with morning wood because I own six websites and a couple of blogs and I write a lot of content. I’ll just tell you this, Logan. When I wake up with morning wood, I sit down at the keyboard and the words just flow because I know that hormonally my state is perfect. All is well in the world. I’m youthful hormonally. When I wake up with nothing, I sit at the keyboard and my brain basically tells me, “I’m not helping you today.” It’s a great benchmark and pine pollen really does that well for me as far as the erectile function. I think it’s a great herb for that even though the main benefit people talk about is that it actually contains testosterone. For me, it’s a wood supplement. So tongkat ali for the energy, motivation, hormone synthesis and then I’d have to put pine pollen up there as well.
Logan: Yeah, those are definitely two of my favorites. That’s interesting. I do a lot of writing myself. I haven’t actually correlated those things but I’ll have to start paying attention to that as well. You mentioned a little bit about cycling the herbs and that’s kind of one of the main things I wanted to talk about on this call. You came up with a protocol that I found very interesting and I’ve actually been using your idea the past two weeks and find it’s working quite well. I’d like you to go into a little bit of detail about that.
Mark: Back in the day when this happened for me, this was before Superman Herbs or even Amazon I don’t think carried tongkat at the time so I was buying the stuff from Indonesia because I read that their product was better than Malaysia’s. Has that been your experience?
Logan: From what I understand, I have seen people that say that but from what I understand you can’t actually really get it from Indonesia anymore. Too much of it was being used to they made it illegal. But I could be wrong there.
Mark: Well, that was a while ago plus I could have been duped by this information on the web. But I’ll tell you this. I spent a fortune on this stuff. So it came in, I’m very excited, dosed up and was literally flying that day. Everything was working right. Mood, energy, motivation, it was just killing it for me. So then the next day, I took it again and it was a little bit less. It just didn’t quite kick in the same way. I stayed with it because people were talking. The guy whose advice I was following was talking about a two-week cycle, three days off, back on again. I tried this cycle and killed it the first time around but then it started to fade. By the end, I was feeling nothing. I started up cycle 2, absolutely nothing. I didn’t get squat.
I’d had that experience several different times then I’d finally thought I really liked the hit on these herbs the first time I take them but if I keep taking them, it doesn’t work like it did that first day. So I started accumulating different herbs, taking one herb a day and then taking a full week off. Also if I was feeling it—you know how you wake up some days and you already feel it, everything is great, you don’t need anything—I’d pass on using an herb that day.
Then I just started cycling them. I found that I could get that initial hit. I don’t know if it’s the negative feedback loop—I’ve had arguments with guys about this subject all the time—it could be the negative feedback loop because your body loves to keep hormones in a certain range. Your body is looking at your baseline heath situation, your body fat or whatever, and it likes to keep things in a specific tight range. It’s the same thing with blood sugar, blood pressure and everything. They’re hard to change until you actually change your physiology.
So with these herbs, I found that I could go in and I could kind of do a frontal assault by taking the herb in a hefty dose on one day and then just parking it for a week or so. That’s really what got the cycling thing going. So take it, take a week off and use something the next day if you need it but if you don’t, don’t take anything. It’s always good to give the liver a break, as you well know. That’s how the cycling thing developed. Once I started cycling and created these big gaps between doses, the hit from these herbs just was very consistent and that’s basically how the protocol was built.
Logan: That’s very cool and it makes a lot of sense. One of the first things I’ve heard about hormones was because they’re basically chemical messengers in the body, if you are doing one thing the body’s going to get used to it then it doesn’t have the same effect. When I heard about your protocol I thought that was very interesting. That’s why I’ve been experimenting with it lately. When you lay this out for people because it sounds like you’re really listening to your body, you take some herbs when you feel you need them, don’t take them when you don’t but for people trying to this, you just get a range of seven different herbs, take one each day through the week and then repeat?
Mark: That’s exactly it and when you’re feeling it, take a day off. I also suggest to add a little fat to these herbs when you mix them up, just a drop or two or fat because there are certain alkaloids in there that your body won’t absorb unless they’re consumed with fat. I use the example you can eat tons of blueberries which are all going to come out in your feces unless you consume those berries with fat. Then you’re going to absorb all those polyphenols when you consume those berries with fat. So I like to take them with a little bit of fat and I think that increases the absorption.
Logan: Are you taking butter or what do you use?
Mark: Just a few drops of olive oil. You know your herbs are challenging to take but anything that is good requires effort. It’s easy to pop a capsule but you can’t play with dosages with capsules, you can’t add fat and you’re typically getting way more fillers than you are herbs. That’s why I’m so high on your product right now. I just got an email from a guy who’s been cycling another brand that we’ve been using for a long time from another company and he’s like, “This has just been life-changing for me, Mark.” He’s following this protocol of cycling the herbs, putting them in mildly warm water, adding a little bit of fat.
The fat is there because as I mentioned, you want to take in those alkaloids. I know most people don’t smoke but a great example that will demonstrate how these alkaloids work is—a few people relate to this but I’ll tell it anyway—if you’ve ever smoked a cigarette and most people have, you kind of get this buzzy brain feel when you take a drag. That’s the alkaloids working. It’s not nicotine. So smokers will tell you that when they are vaporizing nicotine, pure nicotine without all the alkaloids, just the pure nicotine in an e-cigarette or a vaporizer, they don’t get the brain feel and that’s because of the alkaloids. That’s why I like to add the fat. It gives you a little bit more of a brain feel when you take these herbs and the brain feel component adds a lot to the equation. That’s why I recommend that men put a few drops of olive oil in there with warm water, stir it up and shoot it back and go after your day.
Logan: Very cool. I’m curious. Have you worked a lot with tinctures versus working with the powders and pills and that sort of thing and have you noticed any differences between some of the different herbs?
Mark: Yeah, that’s actually a good question because I see the tinctures as being more medicinal, more of a blunt force approach. I think it kind of concentrates the specific nutrients that you’re trying to intake that you’re going to spike your testes to start producing whatever it is that particular herb produces. Like we talked about earlier, it’s not always testosterone. I get more of a brain feel component from a dry herb as opposed to a tincture but tincture has its place. It’s more of a sledgehammer in some situations. For me like with pine pollen, it feels a little more medicinal. So if I was waking up four or five days in a row with no wood, I’d be loading up on tincture. But if I have some baseline wood there, it’s not quite where I want it to be, I’d probably go with the powder just because of all of the other components, the proteins, the alkaloids and all the other stuff that are in that powder. Mother Nature does good things. Personally, I prefer powders generally speaking over the tincture.
Logan: Very cool. You mentioned tongkat and pine pollen. What are some of your other favorites?
Mark: Well, I’m kind of turning into a big fan of cistanche just because of the brain feel that we talked about. I get a really good brain component when I take that herb. Schisandra is good. That’s a berry, as you know, that has been used as a sexual tonic in China for a long time. It’s good for the liver. I think that’s a good one to take. You’ve always got to give your liver a break. You’ve got to think about that. That’s why it’s good to take days off but for me, it’s like ashwagandha a little bit in a way because it calms be done and it helps with the pair bonding aspect because if you’re doing all these things and really going after the testosterone, you’ve got to step back every once in a while and show your soft side to your female. Schisandra does that for me. It calms me down, relaxes me but still gives me the drive to take advantage of the situation with her. So I’m a pretty big fan of that one, too. When I take that herb, it’s really good with wellbeing for me personally. I know these herbs can hit people in different ways but I really like that one as well.
Logan: Very cool. Are there any other benefits or great tips or something that has worked well for you or your clients?
Mark: Well, we haven’t really talked about nettle and we get a lot of questions about nettle.
Logan: So do we.
Mark: I think that’s a good herb. It’s definitely good to include in the package that we sell, the bundle that we sell. It’s a mild aromatase inhibitor and it also helps with SHBG, reduces that. But the one thing that I want to caution people who are using it is it does prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT. That’s a good thing and that’s a bad thing because if you’re taking too much nettle, you’re going to lower DHT levels too much and DHT is just a vital hormone for libido and sex drive. I get asked a lot, “How do I use nettle?” and the best advice that I can give, and it’s a little bit nebulous but it works like a charm for me, is if you’re sitting at your desk working or you’re in front of your computer and you start noticing hairs falling out, that’s a sign that you have too much DHT. For me, it’s pretty obvious because if my DHT levels are too high, while I’m sitting there banging on my keyboard I’ll see four or five hairs fall onto it over the course of a few hours and it’s like okay, I need to take a dose of nettle.
Another indicator is if you go to the bathroom at night and it takes you too long to get the urine stream going, that’s a clear indicator that your DHT levels have climbed just a little too high. At that point, you want to pull out your nettle and take a dose of that and just bring it back down. It’s a juggling act because if you take it too much too consistently, you’re going to actually lower your sex drive. So you kind of use it just to tap the DHT levels down just below that point where you have a difficult time getting the urine stream going or you’re starting to see a little bit of hair fall out. If you’re taking testosterone boosters, there’s going to be a time where your T levels are going to spike, you’re going to convert a lot of testosterone to DHT and you’re going to start seeing hair and maybe have a little bit difficult time getting the urine stream started. That’s the time to pull out the nettle root.
Logan: That’s very cool. I hadn’t heard of those two tips before. That’s very interesting. I like that with the whole idea of cycling. You just throw something like nettle root in there every once in a while. It can help balance that more, give it a little bit of a different direction because if you’re always just working with the ones that directly or indirectly help with testosterone, you throw out some of these other things that can help with the other things like the schisandra as well. You listed that it aids in Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detox and that may not be directly testosterone but that’s how the estrogen mimics and even your body’s own estrogen can get pulled out and excreted so that the testosterone and everything can work better.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. Your liver is the most complicated organ in your body. Your heart is a kid’s toy compared to that. You definitely want to keep that thing operating at peak efficiency. That’s another reason why when you’re feeling it, take a day off. Your nettle root isn’t really a blatant testosterone booster. It’s like the referee. When things start to get a little bit out of hand, pull it out, take a moderate dose and rein things back in. Take a day off here and there. Give your liver a break. That’s more of a global baseline health issue. Keep that liver healthy. Schisandra definitely helps with that. I love the combination of having that cool, calm, collected-high sex drive combo. It’s really hard to find but schisandra definitely does that.
Logan: Absolutely. Well Mark, I want to thank you so much for this. I definitely learned a few new things that I’m very excited to try out on this. Where can people go to find out more about you and all the writing that you do?
Mark: I have a website Boost-Your-Low-Testosterone.com. This entire venture started in 2009 when I was just kind of dealing with this. It’s an old site. It looks like crap but the best thing to do is to go to that site. You can download that eBook right on the homepage and then you’re going to get my most updated information in the emails that I send out a few times a week. That’s a way to put yourself inside the little world that you’re dealing with here. There’s a bunch of us who are following these protocols, a lot of people having great success. So the best way to do this is to go to Boost-Your-Low-Testosterone.com and sign up for the eBook. You’ll be in the loop and we can all work together here and get you back where you belong.
Logan: All right, well I highly recommend everyone do that. If you’re looking for hormonal help, we’ve got a lot of information but as you just heard, Mark has whole bunch, too, so I highly recommend you do that. Thanks everyone for listening and thank you, Mark, for joining us. I had a great time.
Mark: Okay, thanks Logan. I appreciate it.