As everybody out there knows, testosterone plays an essential role in developing all of those masculine traits which define an individual starting with puberty. From muscle mass accumulation and growing in height to having a deeper voice, substantially more body hair, and adequate sperm development, testosterone pretty much separates a boy from a real man. But what do you do when these hormonal levels start to decrease and bring about more negative effects than you would like to think about? Should you then rely on external supplementation? What is the truth about testosterone boosters then?
How do they work? Are they reliable after all?
It stands to be noted that, while your testosterone levels are at their ultimate peak in your adolescence, their count begins to gradually decrease by the time you hit 30 years of age. And, as previously mentioned, the outcome of this decline is anything but favorable: decreased sexual drive, muscle loss (coupled with a higher fat retention propensity and reduced bone density), low physical energy, etc. As a result, resorting to supplements of the ‘testosterone booster’ type seems to be the only answer for not feeling like a ‘lesser man’ anymore. But what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to these ‘natural’ alternatives in regaining your manhood?
Testosterone boosters 101
In general, testosterone boosters represent supplements aimed at enlarging your ‘free’ testosterone levels. In turn, this is said to have a variety of beneficial outcomes: for example, a more masculine appearance, better muscle mass, raised energy levels, enhanced libido, significantly ameliorated aging signs, etc. Even so, you might be asking yourself by now – is there a clear distinction between ‘bound’ and ‘free’ testosterone? If so, what does each type simply for the male organism?
As can be guessed, the actual ‘science’ behind these processes is both complicated and complex. Nevertheless, the basic mechanism works as follows: inside your body, testosterone is mostly linked to SHBG (meaning a sex hormone-binding globulin). Thus, approximately 98% of your testosterone levels are dependent on the hypothalamus, meaning that portion of your brain which will release the present hormone only in particular situations (for instance, during long periods of physical exertion). On the other hand, testosterone which is ‘free’ will be able to circulate through your organism without binding, at the same time remaining biologically active and at the body’s disposal to be used during various processes and activities.
In general, testosterone boosters rely on the ‘free’ variant of the hormone in order to increase the above-mentioned traits which nowadays define masculinity. Moreover, these supplements also use the below-mentioned ingredients to facilitate these transformations (in alphabetical order):
DHEA – dehydroepiandrosterone (or DHEA for short) is a precursor to testosterone, meaning that the male organism has the possibility of transforming it further on into this hormone. Hence, having an increased quantity of DHEA in your organism will facilitate testosterone production in the long term.
Fenugreek – constitutes a widely spread herbal extract. It is derived from a plant which has numerous utilizations, from the culinary to the medicinal alike. Moreover, recent medical trials have shown that fenugreek can actively combat sexual insufficiencies such as erectile dysfunction, for instance.
Tribulus Terrestris – this multipurpose plant has a consistent history of being used both in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, especially for its sexual and stamina-increasing capacities. Also known as ‘devil’s thorn’ or ‘bullhead’, this flowering herbaceous helps increase muscle mass and regulate libido by maximizing your testosterone count.
Various blends – since no two dietary supplements are ever alike, the same truth holds for testosterone boosters as well. Thus, you will find a gallery of ingredients utilized with the purpose of elevating testosterone numbers, amongst which we can include various vitamins (vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, etc), DAA (D-aspartic acid), Eurycoma long folio, ginseng, and others.
The efficiency of testosterone boosters – fact or fiction?
As Cleveland Clinic specialists confirmed, there is presently no form of medication which can actually act as a hormone replacement in its entirety – at least in the form of prescription medication, that is. This subsequently leaves us wondering: could dietary supplements (like testosterone boosters) be the ‘over the counter’ solution to this issue then?
The main issue we are facing with these dietary supplements is the fact that, although medical figure cannot actually deny that their component ingredient does not act in a positive way towards testosterone enhancement, there is also too little evidence in the form of extensive clinical trials to demonstrate the actual efficiency of testosterone boosters once and for all.
Take, for instance, the DHEA element currently being used in the majority of these supplements. As WebMD notices, products containing DHEA claim to have the potential of combating aging effects, building muscle mass, improving libido levels, and even guaranteeing overall better health. Even so, there are few and not extremely reliable localized tests to back up these claims. Some studies have even shown that this ingredient can, in fact, cause potential health-threatening outcomes (for example, developing mild depression). In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has observed the following: while DHEA can help men suffering from the erectile dysfunction condition obtain an erection and also help reduce skin damage for the elderly, there is no further proof this substance can improve areas pertaining to weight loss, mental health, and overall physical performance.
As previously mentioned, another popular testosterone booster component is fenugreek. Again, its widespread usage in both traditional and modern medicine has not yet provided the specialist community with enough hard proof so as to positively declare this herbaceous ingredient as effective as it is usually advertised to be. In theory, it is known as an inhibitor for 5-alpha-reductase (the chemical which transforms di-hydro-testosterone – or simply DHT – into testosterone). All the more recent tests addressing this hypothesis have been performed mostly on mice and far too little on humans, which entails that no relevant conclusions can be drawn just yet when talking about fenugreek and testosterone maximization within the body.
For the Tribulus Terrestris ingredient, the situation stands within similar patterns: some potentially positive effects displayed during trials (improved sexual drive, increased physical performance, and better muscle mass depositing), but next to none elevation of ‘free’ testosterone quantities. To make matters worse, Tribulus Terrestris and DHEA alike have been demonstrated to drop the level of good cholesterol when used extensively, which leads to increased chances of suffering from heart illnesses, strokes, and heart attacks.
Not to mention that, on top of all this, we cannot even be sure about the ethical approach conducted by most of these trials. With unclear methodologies, far too reduced target groups in testing, and even ‘sponsored’ clinical studies, it is no wonder why testosterone boosters (and dietary supplements in general) know such a bad reputation nowadays.
This latter affirmation would appear to contradict reality since the same supplements have also received a skyrocketing amount of commercial success in recent years – but how so? Well, it mostly has to do with our propensity as consumers to ‘fall’ for the most enticing and flashy slogans – with supplement manufacturers catering to all of these ‘needs’ and even more. Since supplements of this sort fall under the denomination of nutritional enhancers, they do not require extensive FDA regulations by law, with this institution only intervening in the case of sustained consumer complaints (and not even then to drastic repercussions). So are testosterone supplements even worth buying anymore?
Low testosterone levels – what does this mean?
It is presumed that people rely on testosterone boosters when they themselves lack this sort of hormone inside their organism in a natural manner. Even so, this would mean that they actually suffer from a pretty serious condition, which should first and foremost be addressed by consulting with a specialized medical figure.
By setting up an appointment with your doctor or personal physician, you can have an open discussion about the symptoms you have experienced recently and their effects on your day to day life, as well as a series of tests conducted (like blood investigations, which will clearly show your current testosterone levels). For an average man, these numbers run along the 300-1.200 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) range, any number lower than the minimum indicating a potential decrease in your hormonal balance.
The problem is that this severe fall in testosterone levels can reflect other medical conditions that simply aging. Illnesses which affect a healthy hormonal count include type 2 diabetes, chronic liver disease, kidney problems, obesity, infections, and, of course, hormonal problems. This side of the issue should clearly be taken into consideration since testosterone boosters could only actually help get rid of the symptoms, but not the medical condition itself.
As a result, consulting with your doctor from the beginning is the best thing you could do for your health and masculinity alike – once you get to the root of the ailment, the specialist can then advise in favour of therapies aimed at intensive testosterone replacement, such as gels, injections, patches, and the alternative solution of pellet implants, not to mention good quality testosterone boosters.
Is buying a testosterone supplement the solution?
As with anything, opinions are mixed. If we were to take the demonstration conducted above for granted, then the answer would be ‘no’. With little to no clear support from the medical community in terms of efficiency and reliability, testosterone boosters might appear to be just another dietary supplement scam created to steal the money of vulnerable buyers. Additionally, since manufacturers can claim pretty much anything on their websites and product labels alike, one can never be sure whether the advertised pill actually contains the specified ingredients or something else (and potentially harmful) entirely.
The list of negative attributions goes on to include supplements which cost between $80-$100, with auto-shipping programs and automatic membership inclusions making these products almost impossible to escape from a financial point of view, in particular. And who would want to invest that much money monthly in something which is not even proven to actually work?
On the other hand, it cannot be denied that there are people backing up testosterone boosters as effective and reliable as any good brand dietary supplements. In fact, it might depend on the expectations we step into this process from the very beginning – first of all, it is clear that no pill or powder can make you look like a bodybuilder or give you endless stamina in bed. But, in the same line of thought, using testosterone boosters and feeling more energetic, confident in yourself, sexually active, and overall manlier cannot be denied either. Since most supplement experiences are indeed very personal, they depend, in the end, on the person’s own response to the ingredients and how their body assimilates certain compounds in time.
Conclusions – are testosterone boosters worth trying?
As mentioned above, the odds appear to be stacked against testosterone boosters from a variety of angles. This means that no matter how highly advertised they might be, these products only promise great results, but ultimately fail short of their expected promises.
Thus, your best course of action when facing low testosterone levels as a man would be to book an appointment with a specialist and see whether your hormonal issues are age-related or caused by another form of health affliction. Once you determine the primary cause, then you can decide which course of action is best for your lifestyle and makeup (whether standard medication or natural alternatives).
If you do decide to try out your luck with testosterone supplements after all, then choose a good quality brand and look for the best (and most honest) customer reviews you can find online before actually purchasing these sort of items. In the end, only you can decide whether this type of supplementation can help diminish your issues in time or not, with visible results to attest for it at the end.
So, all in all, keep the above information in mind when ‘shopping’ for testosterone boosters (or not) and share your experience or opinions on this platform to help others benefit from them as well.