As the conversation around men's health becomes more prevalent in the mainstream, so has the tidal wave of advertisements for supplemental testosterone. While some men may have a clinical need for supplemental testosterone, many men have been overprescribed the hormone, which can have negative impacts on their cardiovascular health. Fortunately, there are a plethora of things that can be done naturally to optimize testosterone and improve your overall wellness.
QUICK TIPS FOR TESTOSTERONE SUPPORT
AUDIT YOUR LIFESTYLE
Exercise and strength-train frequently, eat a whole foods diet rich in fiber, avoid processed and fried foods as much as possible, minimize alcohol intake, and prioritize a good night’s sleep. These are all necessary factors for setting a healthy foundation for a healthy life. Always make sure your foundations are in order when you are looking to boost testosterone.
MINIMIZE AND BREATHE THROUGH STRESS
Stress increases the hormone cortisol which directly suppresses testosterone formation. Work to remove unwanted stressors from your life. Moreover, mindfulness-based movement practices such as yoga and qigong have been documented to lower cortisol rates and promote overall lasting feelings of well-being. Lastly, if you are finding it difficult to know where to begin, speak with a mental health professional trained in helping guide you back to feeling your best.
Plastics that have BPA in them contain xenoestrogens which, like cortisol, can inhibit the body’s ability to generate testosterone. Not to be mistaken with estrogen, which we all need healthy levels of, xenoestrogens can either be naturally occurring or human-made synthetic compounds and they mimic the effects of estrogen, which suppresses testosterone production when in excessive amounts. Synthetic xenoestrogens are where most of the concern lies since they can be found in pesticides, toxic household cleaners, chemicals in body care, synthetic scents, and plastics. The abundance of plastic in our everyday lives increases our contact with xenoestrogens and they easily make their way into our bodies. These are a few contributing factors to why there is an ever-increasing rate of men with low testosterone in the USA. By choosing organic foods, non-toxic products, and cutting plastic use, you can mitigate this inhibitor from your daily life. Plus, it also helps the environment!
GET SUFFICIENT VITAMIN D
If you aren’t getting at least 30 minutes of sunlight a day, it’s very possible you have lower than average vitamin D levels. A 12-month study found that supplementing with around 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by around 25%.1 Beyond just boosting testosterone, Vitamin D helps the immune system, plays a key role in bone health, and can also support a healthy mood.
TOP HERBS FOR MEN’S HEALTH
One of the most researched herbs for boosting testosterone naturally. On average in healthy men, ashwagandha can increase testosterone levels by 15%2. Another study found it can lower cortisol by around 25%3 which frees up more testosterone to be created. Beyond boosting testosterone, ashwagandha has also been studied in humans and found that it increases muscle strength, endurance, male fertility, and improves sleep quality4.
Another excellent example of an herbal product that has been studied in men to improve fertility, stamina, and yes, a modest boost in testosterone has also been seen. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study at a dose of 250 mg twice a day, treatment with Shilajit for consecutive 90 days revealed statistically significant improvements in testosterone compared to placebo.5 In Ayurvedic medicine, this is a primary supplement used to prolong vitality and reproductive years in men.
Also known as Magic Velvet Bean, it has also shown a testosterone-boosting effect when taken for 3 months6. What’s more, is that Mucuna is known to support a healthy mood and can improve our subjective sense of well-being.7 It is not uncommon for individuals to wonder if they have low testosterone when their mood stays low for a prolonged period of time; fortunately, Mucuna supports both mood and hormones.
Saffron is an excellent herb for all aspects of men's health. It supports healthy blood sugars, it has been studied for its ability to promote sperm health, and it also is well researched as a mood booster8. Oftentimes, feelings of sadness or nervousness are hard to express and process and can stick around, impacting our day to day lives, but also, through cortisol and high stress, can deplete hormone levels. Saffron steps in wonderfully to boost mood and improve a person’s outlook.
Saw Palmetto has been studied for testosterone boosting by preventing the enzyme Testosterone Dehydrogenase from breaking down testosterone9. This is also how it supports prostate health. When testosterone is broken down, it becomes dihydrotestosterone which is associated with enlarging the prostate and contributing to conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Tribulus has long been used as an aphrodisiac in ancient society. Today, human trials have repeatedly found that Tribulus terrestris supports healthy erectile function, improves testosterone levels10 similar to Ashwagandha, and also boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss.11
AYURVEDA AND MEN’S HEALTH
Ayurveda has refined its treatment of men’s health for thousands of years. Within its philosophy is a simple standard of care: nutrition is key, and when we balance Prana (the breath) and Agni (our digestion and ability to transform our experiences emotionally), we will reap the rewards with vitality, happiness, and satisfaction. Therefore, dietary advice for longevity is intimately tied to the same dietary advice for boosting energy and testosterone. Moreover, there is emphasis put on supporting the Kapha aspect of ourselves. The Kapha aspect is everything involving our flesh, stamina, in short: anabolic processes of the body. This makes sense in the context of low testosterone as well, with lower testosterone levels, muscle mass and stamina diminish. Ayurvedic philosophy suggests to boost and maintain a healthy Kapha aspect of oneself, eat at regular intervals, avoid cold foods and overconsumption of dairy, and preference steamed vegetables with lean protein over fried foods or spicy foods. Additionally, Ayurveda reminds men to consume a diverse amount of nuts and seeds to consistently support male vitality. Now that we know nuts and seeds are full of prebiotics and healthy fatty acids which both contribute to healthy testosterone levels as well as improve cardiovascular health, we can see the ancient wisdom, once again, was appropriate and applicable.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
No matter the reason, now more than ever before, men are feeling fatigued, having lower stamina, and having concerns about their sexual health. Fortunately, whether you have clinically low testosterone or not, there are plenty of ways to encourage optimal testosterone and overcome these common concerns. Though there are many herbs and products out there marketed to support virility and men’s health, in order to get the most out of your supplements, always remember the foundations of health. With those foundations in line, and with support from a few key herbs, you can enjoy long-lasting, vibrant, health.
1] Pilz, S., Frisch, S., Koertke, H., Kuhn, J., Dreier, J., Obermayer-Pietsch, B., Wehr, E., & Zittermann, A. (2011). Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Hormone and metabolic research = Hormon- und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones et metabolisme, 43(3), 223–225.
2] Langade, D., Thakare, V., Kanchi, S., & Kelgane, S. (2021). Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 264, 113276.
3] Lopresti, A. L., Drummond, P. D., & Smith, S. J. (2019). A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males. American journal of men's health, 13(2), 1557988319835985.
4] Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Malvi, H., & Kodgule, R. (2019). An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine, 98(37), e17186.
5] Pandit, S., Biswas, S., Jana, U., De, R. K., Mukhopadhyay, S. C., & Biswas, T. K. (2016). Clinical evaluation of purified Shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteers. Andrologia, 48(5), 570–575.
6] Shukla, K. K., Mahdi, A. A., Ahmad, M. K., Shankhwar, S. N., Rajender, S., & Jaiswar, S. P. (2009). Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Fertility and sterility, 92(6), 1934–1940.
7] Shukla, K. K., Mahdi, A. A., Ahmad, M. K., Jaiswar, S. P., Shankwar, S. N., & Tiwari, S. C. (2010). Mucuna pruriens Reduces Stress and Improves the Quality of Semen in Infertile Men. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 7(1), 137–144.
8] Tajaddini, A., Roshanravan, N., Mobasseri, M., Aeinehchi, A., Sefid-Mooye Azar, P., Hadi, A., & Ostadrahimi, A. (2021). Saffron improves life and sleep quality, glycaemic status, lipid profile and liver function in diabetic patients: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. International journal of clinical practice, 75(8), e14334.
9] Prager, N., Bickett, K., French, N., & Marcovici, G. (2002). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of botanically derived inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 8(2), 143–152.
10] GamalEl Din, S. F., Abdel Salam, M. A., Mohamed, M. S., Ahmed, A. R., Motawaa, A. T., Saadeldin, O. A., & Elnabarway, R. R. (2019). Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms in patients with late-onset hypogonadism: A placebo-controlled study. Urologia, 86(2), 74–78.
11] Fernández-Lázaro, D., Mielgo-Ayuso, J., Del Valle Soto, M., Adams, D. P., González-Bernal, J. J., & Seco-Calvo, J. (2021). The Effects of 6 Weeks of Tribulus terrestris L. Supplementation on Body Composition, Hormonal Response, Perceived Exertion, and CrossFit® Performance: A Randomized, Single-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients, 13(11), 3969. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu1311396