Testosterone [Figure 1] is the main male sex hormone. It is responsible for male sexuality and is the main hormone-producing the features associated with masculinity such as substantial muscle mass, facial hair, libido, and sperm production.[1] Besides, the hormone has other vital functions as the basic chemical composition of testosterone is steroidal; and steroids are known to have significant physiological, as well as psychological, effects in male individuals, especially adults.[1] Testosterone production is reduced gradually in men starting from the age of 30.[2] Hence, testosterone blood concentrations slowly diminish as age progresses. As a result, men may experience a number of physiological and psychological events, such as a lack of sex-drive, erectile dysfunction, acute depression, fatigue, low energy levels, and insomnia.[3]
   The International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance recently studied tennis players, rugby teams, and wrestlers to find a link between testosterone and competitive outcome. They found that the difference between winning and losing was reflected in testosterone levels! The athletes' own natural testosterone prior to the game was directly related to the outcome after the game -- the higher the testosterone, the more frequently the athlete won.6
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Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. In male humans, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as testes and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair.[2] In addition, testosterone is involved in health and well-being,[3] and the prevention of osteoporosis.[4] Insufficient levels of testosterone in men may lead to abnormalities including frailty and bone loss.
Changes in body composition are seen with aging. In general terms, aging males are prone to loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, especially in the form of visceral or central fat. An epidemiological study of community dwelling men aged between 24 and 85 years has confirmed that total and free testosterone levels are inversely correlated with waist circumference and that testosterone levels are specifically related to this measure of central obesity rather than general obesity (Svartberg, von Muhlen, Sundsfjord et al 2004). Prospective studies show that testosterone levels predict future development of central obesity (Khaw and Barrett-Connor 1992; Tsai et al 2000). Reductions in free testosterone also correlate with age related declines in fat free mass (muscle mass) and muscle strength (Baumgartner et al 1999; Roy et al 2002). Studies in hypogonadal men confirm an increase in fat mass and decrease in fat free mass versus comparable eugonadal men (Katznelson et al 1998). Taken together, the epidemiological data suggest that a hypogonadal state promotes loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, particularly visceral fat and therefore mimics the changes of ‘normal’ aging.

[quote]You see there is a difference between your free testosterone levels and your total testosterone levels. As testosterone flows through your blood, free testosterone is chemically active and available for your body to use as it will. While other testosterone is floating around bound to SHGB (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin). This testosterone is inactive and unable to be used by your body because the SHGB renders it inert. So while you may have a high amount of “total testosterone,” much of it may be unavailable to be used by your body. So it is really the amount of free testosterone in your body that you should be concerned with.”[/quote]
Testosterone is significantly correlated with aggression and competitive behaviour and is directly facilitated by the latter. There are two theories on the role of testosterone in aggression and competition.[77] The first one is the challenge hypothesis which states that testosterone would increase during puberty thus facilitating reproductive and competitive behaviour which would include aggression.[77] Thus it is the challenge of competition among males of the species that facilitates aggression and violence.[77] Studies conducted have found direct correlation between testosterone and dominance especially among the most violent criminals in prison who had the highest testosterone levels.[77] The same research also found fathers (those outside competitive environments) had the lowest testosterone levels compared to other males.[77]
Studies of the effects on cognition of testosterone treatment in non-cognitively impaired eugonadal and hypogonadal ageing males have shown varying results, with some showing beneficial effects on spatial cognition (Janowsky et al 1994; Cherrier et al 2001), verbal memory (Cherrier et al 2001) and working memory (Janowsky et al 2000), and others showing no effects (Sih et al 1997; Kenny et al 2002). Other trials have examined the effects of testosterone treatment in older men with Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline. Results have been promising, with two studies showing beneficial effects of testosterone treatment on spatial and verbal memory (Cherrier et al 2005b) and cognitive assessments including visual-spatial memory (Tan and Pu 2003), and a recent randomized controlled trial comparing placebo versus testosterone versus testosterone and an aromatase inhibitor suggesting that testosterone treatment improves spatial memory directly and verbal memory after conversion to estrogen (Cherrier et al 2005a). Not all studies have shown positive results (Kenny et al 2004; Lu et al 2005), and variations could be due to the different measures of cognitive abilities that were used and the cognitive state of men at baseline. The data from clinical trials offers evidence that testosterone may be beneficial for certain elements of cognitive function in the aging male with or without cognitive decline. Larger studies are needed to confirm and clarify these effects.
The partial synthesis in the 1930s of abundant, potent testosterone esters permitted the characterization of the hormone's effects, so that Kochakian and Murlin (1936) were able to show that testosterone raised nitrogen retention (a mechanism central to anabolism) in the dog, after which Allan Kenyon's group[186] was able to demonstrate both anabolic and androgenic effects of testosterone propionate in eunuchoidal men, boys, and women. The period of the early 1930s to the 1950s has been called "The Golden Age of Steroid Chemistry",[187] and work during this period progressed quickly. Research in this golden age proved that this newly synthesized compound—testosterone—or rather family of compounds (for many derivatives were developed from 1940 to 1960), was a potent multiplier of muscle, strength, and well-being.[188]
A number of epidemiological studies have found that bone mineral density in the aging male population is positively associated with endogenous androgen levels (Murphy et al 1993; Ongphiphadhanakul et al 1995; Rucker et al 2004). Testosterone levels in young men have been shown to correlate with bone size, indicating a role in determination of peak bone mass and protection from future osteoporosis (Lorentzon et al 2005). Male hypogonadism has been shown to be a risk factor for hip fracture (Jackson et al 1992) and a recent study showed a high prevalence of hypogonadism in a group of male patients with average age 75 years presenting with minimal trauma fractures compared to stroke victims who acted as controls (Leifke et al 2005). Estrogen is a well known determinant of bone density in women and some investigators have found serum estrogen to be a strong determinant of male bone density (Khosla et al 1998; Khosla et al 2001). Serum estrogen was also found to correlate better than testosterone with peak bone mass (Khosla et al 2001) but this is in contradiction of a more recent study showing a negative correlation of estrogen with peak bone size (Lorentzon et al 2005). Men with aromatase deficiency (Carani et al 1997) or defunctioning estrogen receptor mutations (Smith et al 1994) have been found to have abnormally low bone density despite normal or high testosterone levels which further emphasizes the important influence of estrogen on male bone density.
Some boys even develop enlarged testicles and penis, armpit or pubic hair, as well as facial hair as early as age nine! Early puberty is not something to be taken lightly because it can significantly influence physical and psychological health, including an increased risk of hormone-related cancers. Precocious sexual development may also lead to emotional and behavioral issues, such as:

A: According to the NIH, normal values for testosterone levels in men can range from 300 to 1,200ng/dL. There can be many different causes of low testosterone including age, diseases, accidents, and medications. Symptoms of low testosterone may include: loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating. Low testosterone levels may also bring around body changes including: hair loss, decrease in blood cells possibly leading to anemia, fragile bones, and a decrease in muscle mass. There are different testosterone replacement therapies including patches, such as Androderm; gels, such as Androgel and Testim; and injections, such as testosterone cypionate. Only your health care provider can decide if and what kind of testosterone replacement therapy is appropriate for you. Testosterone replacement therapy is not right for everyone. Patient with certain prostate issues or breast cancer should not take testosterone. For more specific information, consult with your doctor for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Kristen Dore, PharmD
Testosterone insufficiency has been associated with HIV infection in men (Dobs et al 1988). Early reports suggested that testosterone therapy may have an ameliorating effect on both depression and decreased energy in HIV infected men, even if testosterone levels were not reduced (Rabkin et al 1999; Grinspoon et al 2000; Rabkin et al 2000). Both depression and fatigue, however, are common features of HIV-positive men and may be associated with factors other than reduced levels of testosterone. The disease itself may induce depression and fatigue may be a consequence of the disease, per se, or of some of the medications used to control HIV.

In addition to conjugation and the 17-ketosteroid pathway, testosterone can also be hydroxylated and oxidized in the liver by cytochrome P450 enzymes, including CYP3A4, CYP3A5, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2D6.[155] 6β-Hydroxylation and to a lesser extent 16β-hydroxylation are the major transformations.[155] The 6β-hydroxylation of testosterone is catalyzed mainly by CYP3A4 and to a lesser extent CYP3A5 and is responsible for 75 to 80% of cytochrome P450-mediated testosterone metabolism.[155] In addition to 6β- and 16β-hydroxytestosterone, 1β-, 2α/β-, 11β-, and 15β-hydroxytestosterone are also formed as minor metabolites.[155][156] Certain cytochrome P450 enzymes such as CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 can also oxidize testosterone at the C17 position to form androstenedione.[155]


One study found that men who took 3,332 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for one year significantly increased their testosterone levels. But vitamin D supplements may only work for men who are severely deficient in this specific vitamin. Another study found that men without a vitamin D deficiency had no increase in testosterone levels after taking vitamin D.
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   The International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance recently studied tennis players, rugby teams, and wrestlers to find a link between testosterone and competitive outcome. They found that the difference between winning and losing was reflected in testosterone levels! The athletes' own natural testosterone prior to the game was directly related to the outcome after the game -- the higher the testosterone, the more frequently the athlete won.6
Testosterone is an important hormone for both men and women. Even though it’s often associated with a man’s libido, testosterone occurs in both sexes from birth. In females, it plays a part in sexual drive, energy, and physical strength. In males, it stimulates the beginning of sexual development and helps maintain a man’s health throughout his life.

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.
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