When we face stress, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol to prepare our bodies and minds to handle the stressful situation — the primal fight-or-flight response. In small dosages, cortisol is fine and even useful, but elevated cortisol levels for prolonged periods can do some serious damage to our bodies and minds. One area that seems to take a hit when cortisol is high is our testosterone levels. Several studies have shown a link between cortisol and testosterone. When cortisol levels are high, testosterone levels are low; and when testosterone levels are high, cortisol levels are low.
Puberty occurs when there is an “awakening” of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. The hypothalamus increases its secretion of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) which in turn stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This leads to a significant increase in the production of testicular testosterone and the induction of the well-known secondary sex characteristics associated with puberty: growth spurt, increased libido, increased erectile function, acne, increased body hair, increased muscle mass, deepening of the voice, spermatogenesis, gynecomastia (usually transient).
Both Beast Sports’ Super Test and iSatori’s ISA-Test contain a proprietary blend, which means they don’t disclose the amount of each and every ingredient in the mix. This is only a problem if there is an ingredient tucked into a proprietary blend for which we need to know an amount, like magnesium and zinc. While none of the ingredients in Beast Sports’s proprietary blend raised any red flags, iSatori’s blend contains melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Melatonin is an ingredient that has a hard upper limit — Healthline suggests at most 10mg for an adult — and even lower doses can interact poorly with many medications. Since we can’t confirm whether the amount of melatonin in iSatori’s proprietary blend is under 10mg, we cut iSatori.
^ Butenandt A, Hanisch G (1935). "Umwandlung des Dehydroandrosterons in Androstendiol und Testosterone; ein Weg zur Darstellung des Testosterons aus Cholestrin" [About Testosterone. Conversion of Dehydro-androsterons into androstendiol and testosterone; a way for the structure assignment of testosterone from cholesterol]. Hoppe-Seyler's Z Physiol Chem (in German). 237 (2): 89–97. doi:10.1515/bchm2.1935.237.1-3.89.
Since then there have been many publications documenting suppressed testosterone and gonadotropins (Daniell 2006) in men using opioid medications whether these agents were administrated orally (Daniell 2002) or intrathecally (Finch et al 2000). Not only do opioids act centrally by suppressing GnRH, they also act directly on the testes inhibiting the release of testosterone by Leydig cells during stimulation with human chorionic gonadotropin (Purohit et al 1978). Although the large majority of men (and women) receiving opioids do develop hypogonadism, about 15 percent also develop central hypocorticism and 15 percent develop growth hormone deficiency (Abs et al 2000).
Although some men believe that taking testosterone medications may help them feel younger and more vigorous as they age, few rigorous studies have examined testosterone therapy in men who have healthy testosterone levels. And some small studies have revealed mixed results. For example, in one study healthy men who took testosterone medications increased muscle mass but didn't gain strength.