Testosterone is considered to be the "male hormone" that's produced in men by the testes. Although women's ovaries produce some testosterone, the hormone is produced in much higher concentrations in men and it is responsible for many of the secondary sex characteristics seen in men such as a deeper voice and hair on the chest, in addition to contributing to a healthy libido, building muscle mass, and maintaining energy levels.
The basis for my thinking that T levels could be boosted by cold baths came from a post I wrote a few years ago on the benefits of cold showers. One benefit I found in my research was that they could increase testosterone levels. I mentioned a 1993 study done by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England that found increased T levels after taking a cold shower. Here’s the thing. I can’t find a link to the original source and I can’t find any other studies that support this claim! So without supporting research, I’m unsure of the effects of cold showers on testosterone.
However, testosterone is only one of many factors that aid in adequate erections. Research is inconclusive regarding the role of testosterone replacement in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In a review of studies that looked at the benefit of testosterone in men with erection difficulties, showed no improvement with testosterone treatment. Many times, other health problems play a role in erectile difficulties. These can include:
The unsexy truth is that increasing T naturally simply comes down to making some long-term changes in your diet and lifestyle. As you’ll see, what I did to increase T largely boils down to eating better, exercising smarter, and getting more sleep. That’s pretty much it. But as with most things in life, the devil is in the details, so I’ll share with you exactly what I did and provide research that explains why the things I did helped boost my testosterone.
Among the changes which occur with aging are those that affect several aspects of the endocrine system which reduces its secretions to varying degrees in different individuals. These reductions in secretions are identified by a poor but widely recognized appellation, the “pauses”: menopause (decreased ovarian function), adrenopause (decreased adrenal function, especially with regard to dehydroepiandrosterone secretion), somatopause (decreased growth hormone production), andropause (decreased hypothalamic-pituitary testicular function with diminished testosterone availability and impaired spermatogenesis) (Lamberts 1997).
Magnesium deficiency is another widespread problem in our country. While this makes you prone to stress and muscle cramps, it also starves your body’s endocrine system of a vital mineral it needs for testosterone production. We wrote another article on how magnesium alone can send your testosterone levels through the roof. You have to check it out.
Testosterone is necessary for normal sperm development. It activates genes in Sertoli cells, which promote differentiation of spermatogonia. It regulates acute HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis) response under dominance challenge. Androgen including testosterone enhances muscle growth. Testosterone also regulates the population of thromboxane A2 receptors on megakaryocytes and platelets and hence platelet aggregation in humans.
That there is an association between depression and testosterone concentration seems possible because of the observation that depression may be associated with reduced testosterone concentrations, hypogonadal men may have their symptoms of depression relieved by TRT and that testosterone itself may have anti-depressant properties (Pope et al 2003). The evidence, however, is inconsistent. Seidman and colleagues (2002), for example, found that there was no relationship between testosterone and depression but there was an association of testosterone with dysthymia. McIntyre and colleagues (2006), on the other hand, found that middle-aged men with depression did have a reduction in bio-available testosterone.
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Now you know I prefer studies conducted on human participants instead of rodents, but often there is no choice. A Japanese study on rats that you can read here: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/8/2150.short has demonstrated pretty convincingly that garlic supplementation significantly increases testosterone. I wish there were more tests on humans but it turns out garlic isn’t patentable (sorry Monsanto) which means there isn’t enough financial interest to warrant human studies. Maybe I’ll conduct one. Any volunteers?
Regardless of the method of testosterone treatment chosen, patients will require regular monitoring during the first year of treatment in order to monitor clinical response to testosterone, testosterone levels and adverse effects, including prostate cancer (see Table 2). It is recommended that patients should be reviewed at least every three months during this time. Once treatment has been established, less frequent review is appropriate but the care of the patient should be the responsibility of an appropriately trained specialist with sufficient experience of managing patients treated with testosterone.
Intramuscular testosterone injections were first used around fifty years ago. Commercially available preparations contain testosterone esters in an oily vehicle. Esterification is designed to retard the release of testosterone from the depot site into the blood because the half life of unmodified testosterone would be very short. For many years intramuscular preparations were the most commonly used testosterone therapy and this is still the case in some centers. Pain can occur at injection sites, but the injections are generally well tolerated and free of major side effects. Until recently, the available intramuscular injections were designed for use at a frequency of between weekly and once every four weeks. These preparations are the cheapest mode of testosterone treatment available, but often cause supraphysiological testosterone levels in the days immediately following injection and/or low trough levels prior to the next injection during which time the symptoms of hypogonadism may return (Nieschlag et al 1976). More recently, a commercial preparation of testosterone undecanoate for intramuscular injection has become available. This has a much longer half life and produces testosterone levels in the physiological range throughout each treatment cycle (Schubert et al 2004). The usual dose frequency is once every three months. This is much more convenient for patients but does not allow prompt cessation of treatment if a contraindication to testosterone develops. The most common example of this would be prostate cancer and it has therefore been suggested that shorter acting testosterone preparations should preferably used for treating older patients (Nieschlag et al 2005). Similar considerations apply to the use of subcutaneous implants which take the form of cylindrical pellets injected under the skin of the abdominal wall and steadily release testosterone to provide physiological testosterone levels for up to six months. Problems also include pellet extrusion and infection (Handelsman et al 1997).
There are many ways to naturally boost testosterone without steroid use. In fact, taking steroid hormones such as testosterone and its chemical analogs actually shuts down the body's natural production of this important muscle-building hormone. The way you train and eat can drastically affect the amount of testosterone your body produces. In addition, there are a few natural supplements that may also boost testosterone.
So, how does one ensure that testosterone levels remain in balance? Some doctors suggest that monitoring testosterone levels every five years, starting at age 35, is a reasonable strategy to follow. If the testosterone level falls too low or if the individual has the signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels described above, testosterone therapy can be considered. However, once testosterone therapy is initiated, testosterone levels should be closely monitored to make sure that the testosterone level does not become too high, as this may cause stress on the individual, and high testosterone levels may result in some of the negative problems (described previously) seen.
Use natural grooming products. Most grooming products these days contain parabens, another type of xenoestrogen. And by most, I mean more than 75% of all products. To reduce my exposure as much as possible, I became a hippy during my experiment and started using all natural, paraben-free grooming products. You can find most of these items at most health food stores:
Everyone knows that carbohydrates are extremely important for testosterone production, but instead of reaching for grains during your next meal, stack your plate high with potatoes. Research reveals that grains have inflammatory properties, but the testosterone-friendly starches in potatoes will have the bodybuilder in your life smiling at dinnertime!
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Anabolic–androgenic steroids (AASs) are synthetic derivatives of testosterone that are commonly used among athletes aged 18–40 years, but many reports have demonstrated the presence of numerous toxic and hormonal effects as a result of long-term use of an AAS. Testosterone-foods act as natural libido boosters. Due to the growing interest in herbal ingredients and other dietary supplements worldwide, the use of testosterone boosters is becoming more and more mainstream among athletes, but several side effects were documented. Hence, this study established to help in the assessment of the side effects and health risks which could occur among athletes consuming testosterone boosters.
The mechanism of age related decreases in serum testosterone levels has also been the subject of investigation. Metabolic clearance declines with age but this effect is less pronounced than a reduction in testosterone production, so the overall effect is to reduce serum testosterone levels. Gonadotrophin levels rise during aging (Feldman et al 2002) and testicular secretory responses to recombinant human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) are reduced (Mulligan et al 1999, 2001). This implies that the reduced production may be caused by primary testicular failure but in fact these changes are not adequate to fully explain the fall in testosterone levels. There are changes in the lutenising hormone (LH) production which consist of decreased LH pulse frequency and amplitude, (Veldhuis et al 1992; Pincus et al 1997) although pituitary production of LH in response to pharmacological stimulation with exogenous GnRH analogues is preserved (Mulligan et al 1999). It therefore seems likely that there are changes in endogenous production of GnRH which underlie the changes in LH secretion and have a role in the age related decline in testosterone. Thus the decreases in testosterone levels with aging seem to reflect changes at all levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis. With advancing age there is also a reduction in androgen receptor concentration in some target tissues and this may contribute to the clinical syndrome of LOH (Ono et al 1988; Gallon et al 1989).
The amount of testosterone synthesized is regulated by the hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular axis (see figure to the right). When testosterone levels are low, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released by the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH. These latter two hormones stimulate the testis to synthesize testosterone. Finally, increasing levels of testosterone through a negative feedback loop act on the hypothalamus and pituitary to inhibit the release of GnRH and FSH/LH, respectively.
Tribulus terrestris is an ingredient commonly presented as improving testosterone levels, but has not been found to be more effective than a placebo or possess any testosterone increasing properties. WebMD cautions that it interferes with Lithium and diabetes medications, and in general, not enough is known about tribulus terrestris to recommend a dosage for anyone.
And remember, saturated fats work best (along with monounsaturated fats – olive oil, almonds, avocados etc.). In fact higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, margarine etc.) are linked to LOWER testosterone levels (14 & 15). I explore the dangers of PUFA's in a lot more detail in this article - PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Everyday.
The participants were seen every 4 weeks. Blood was taken to measure hormone levels, and questionnaires were given to assess physical function, health status, vitality, and sexual function. Body fat and muscle measurements were also taken at the beginning and end of the 16 weeks. The study was funded in part by NIH’s National Institute on Aging (NIA) and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Results appeared in the September 12, 2013, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Lets touch on these individually. Gluten has been shown to increase prolactin levels in male mice (48 & 49). Increased prolactin levels in males leads to all sorts of horrible things: Man Boobs (50), High inflammation (51), and most importantly, higher prolactin levels have been shown to be testosterone lowering and lead to shrinking of the testicle (52).
Let’s do a quick review of what I shared in the introduction to this series. August of last year was a tough month for me, primarily because of a huge and grueling project we were in the midst of here on the site. I was stressed out and my sleeping, healthy eating habits, and workout regimen all suffered. At the end of the month I got my testosterone levels tested and found that my total T was 383 ng/dL and my free T was 7.2 pg/mL – close to the average for an 85-100-year-old man.
Like most supplements, Beast Sports contains several ingredients with little research about their long-term effects. WebMD describes Suma powder, Rhodiola Rosea, Cissus quadrangularis, Tribulus extract, and ashwagandha extract as possibly safe when taken for a short period of time (usually around 6-10 weeks). However, their long-term safety remains unknown. It also has a few ingredients, like cyanotis vaga root, safed musli, and polygonum cispidatum root extract for which there is a lack of data on even short term safety.
Great article with a lot of useful information. I completely agree with your top three picks. I have done a ton of research as well. Currently I am taking Testogen for over two months and it has worked for me. It has double my low T and I am 61 years old. I do feel better and have more energy. Even have morning wood sometimes and haven’t for a long time.
"Some say it's just a part of aging, but that's a misconception," says Jason Hedges, MD, PhD, a urologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. A gradual decline in testosterone can't explain a near-total lack of interest in sex, for example. And for Hedges' patients who are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s and having erectile problems, other health problems may be a bigger issue than aging.