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Increase Testosterone

To increase testosterone naturally is not as difficult as you might think:  you can increase your testosterone with a little science and a little effort. And, no, I don't just mean by pulling a Barry Bonds and rubbing yourself down with "the Clear".   

Twenty years of research have given us abundant ways to boost testosterone, which, of course, I have listed for you below.  Almost everyone can increase their testosterone significantly because most of us never even considered that these might effect our hormones.  I would guess many of the things on this list will surprise you:  they are the opposite of what most of the bodybuilding magazines and health food stores will tell you. (Remember:  If you have low testosterone, work with your doctor as this is a serious medical condition!)

I recently rearranged this and put the "big guns" at the top, i.e. the solutions that are most likely to give you substantial improvement with minimal risk.

40+ Ways to Increase and Protect Your Testosterone

  1. Sex. I get to be the bearer of good news:  you can actually increase your testosterone levels by having sex. Let me repeat that again in case you needed some time to pick yourself up off the floor:  you can boost testosterone by having sex.  And, in case you didn't know, you can also have a lot of fun while you're at it.  For more information, read this link on Sex. (Actually, I know that some of you need some practical ideas for how to get more sex from the woman in your life.  Well, it's not as hard as you might think in most cases.  Here are a few ideas that will definitely help:  Oxytocin, Massage, Pelvic Angle, Tease Her and Increase Her Libido.) 
  2. Sleep. I've got bad news for all you night owls:  testosterone is directly related to the amount of sleep you get each night.  The more sleep, the more you increase your testosterone.  Sleep also boosts Growth Hormone and rebuilds your Brain. Want an easy way to increase your testosterone?  Turn off the TV and computer and go to bed!  For more information on the MANY benefits of sleep, read this link
  3. Big Three.  I give a summary of the Top Three Ways to Improve Your Testosterone Levels to find out the three natural ways that most guys can give a very substantial boost to their testosterone.
  4. Decrease Estrogen. Don't underestimate the power of lowering your Estrogen in order to raise your testosterone:  the two compete for the same receptors in many cases. In this link on How to Lower Your Estrogen I talk about natural ways to do so.  The effects of decreasing your testosterone were shown by one study of hypogonadal (low testosterone) senior men found that giving a estrogen blocker (Arimidex) raised testosterone on average by 62%. [17] This is a very impressive number indeed. Now you can lower estrogen using the 6-OXO - see below - but I recommend monitoring by an endocrinologist or other doctor that specializes in these kind of issues.  Why?  Because some males actually get osteoporosis from low estrogen levels. Furthermore, some estrogen is important for brain health. Still other 55 year olds have more estrogen than their wives!  So each case is different and I recommend that you work with someone who knows what he or she is doing.
  5. DHEA + HIIT (middle-aged). There is an exciting new study out that shows that a combination of HIIT and 50 mg of DHEA produced very significant changes in both total testosterone and free testosterone. Participants basically performed (in the morning on an empty stomach) 5 cycles of very intense 2 minute cycling with a one minute rest in between. [40] So this would not be a walk in the park, but the results were downright incredible: the middle-aged (49-year-olds) boosted total testosterone by about 66 and ~90 percent 24 hours later. This is only one study and they did not pull estradiol levels. DHEA reportedly can sometimes raise estradiol levels in males disproportionately. So it would be smart in my opinion to pull your testosterone and estradiol levels before and after. You can find inexpensive labs to do this here: Testosterone Testing Labs.
  6. LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone).  Might there be a huge inflammation connection to low testosterone?  Well, why not since inflammation seems to be connected to almost every other condition and syndrome?  We had one poster who took low dose Naltrexone (3 mg/day) and had stunning results:  his thyroid antibodies dropped by 80% and his testosterone more than doubled! [38] It went from 400 ng/dl to 1,000 ng/dl, which is an incredible increase.  Again, this is a specialized case, i.e. a man with Hashimoto's and near hypogonadism.  However, this situation is probably more common than many people think.  Now, if you are fond of using a pharmaceutical even at a low dosage, there are many anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements that may also produce great results including turmeric, quercetin, red tart cherry extract and bromelain. Also, I should mention that LDN has had stellar results with numerous auto-immune conditions and is a very hot topic in the alternative health community.  (See my page on Naltrexone and Testosterone / E.D.)
  7. D-Aspartic Acid.  This amino acid has great potential.  Already one study on 23 young males found a 33% increase in testosterone (and leutinizing hormone). [21]  A previous study on rats also showed an increase in growth hormone as well. [22]  Not bad for a single amino acid, eh?  However, the problem is that this is a relatively "new" supplement and long term usage history is scarce at best.  In addition, amino acids can have rather profound effects, and so caution is in order here. For example, one issue discovered with D-Aspartic Acid is that it increases aromatization (to estradiol - E2) according to a couple of studies. [34][35] No one knows how much of an issue this is:  some men are reporting estrogen-esque effects, particularly psychological.
  8. Diet.  You can actually increase testosterone through diet.  Read these links on Fat and Fiber and the High Testosterone Diet for more details.
  9. Weight Lifting. There is considerable evidence that long term Weight Lifting and strength training can actually increase baseline testosterone.  Scientists aren't really sure how it does this, but then does it really matter?  The important thing is that pumping iron pumps up your hormones.  CAUTION:  Be careful, O Iron Warrior, not to Overtrain which will whack your hormones for days afterward!  
  10. Attitude. Your outlook on life controls just about everything, so why not your testosterone as well?   Depression will destroy your testosterone and the opposite will increase your testosterone. In other words, it's not just your juevos that pump out an increase in testosterone, it's that three pounds between your ears.  For more information, read this link on the the Mind.
  11. Watch the Sugar. This is hot off the press:  blood sugar spikes lead to decreased testosterone. [16] In fact, blood sugar elevation can whack testosterone by as much as 25%!  Furthermore, it does not matter whether you are diabetic, pre-diabetic or normal:  your testosterone will suffer just the same. In fact, it actually drove testosterone so low that a significant number of the men became hypogonadal during the test!  And the researchers found that this was not just a transient result:  testosterone was still significantly lowered two hours after the test.  This is yet another example of the importance of watching your Glycemic Load and managing your sugar levels. Read this link on How Sugar Lowers Your Testosterone and Assaults Your Sex Life.  
  12. Watch the Fat. Consuming a lot of fat can also drive down testosterone in some cases post-meal. One study showed that a high fat meal reduced testosterone levels by about 23% for 8 hours after a meal (and perhaps longer). You can read more about this in my link on Testosterone and What You Put On Your Plate for more information.
  13. Macuna Pruriens.  According to one study out of India, 5 grams of this legume given to men with fertility issues (but otherwise healthy) resulted in a nice 27% boost in testosterone from 449 to 572 ng/dl. [39] It also had the added benefit of lowering prolactin by about 33%.  Prolactin is important, but many men have somewhat elevated levels and this can lower libido, testosterone and dopamine.  (Always check with your doctor if you find you have elevated prolactin, because it is possible that it is The Sign of a Prolactinoma.)
  14. Bulbine Natalensis.  This herb, according to an animal study and compay research, provides a BIG boost in testosterone.  And, just as signficant, it looks like it lowers estraiol as well.  However, there are a few concerns that you may want to consider and I disccuss tem in my link on Mike Mahler's New Testosterone Booster. On the Peak Testosterone Forum, we have not had any men get big boosts in testosterone yet, but this herb definitely does work in some men according to the studies.
  15. Metabolic SyndromeMetabolic Syndrome is associated with lower levels of testosterone [4]and most guys on this site have a full blown case of it.  In fact, researchers have concluded that "while it is clear that disease, and in the context of this contribution, in particular the metabolic syndrome can suppress circulating testosterone levels, it has also been documented that low testosterone levels induce the metabolic syndrome ". [5] Read Metabolic Syndrome for how to defeat this menace and preserve your precious testosterone.
  16. Varicocele Surgery.  A surprising number of guys have a varicocele, which is a "varicose vein" in the scrotal area. This usually happens from trauma or doing heavy lifting.  A varicocele can leave the affected testicle with an improper blood supply, which in turn can decrease testosterone output.  See Improving Male Fertility for details.
  17. Stress. Some of us thrive on Stress.  Adrenaline is a "rush" after all, right? What we don't realize is that not all our hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, go up with stress.  Some hormones, your beloved testosterone in particular, head south very quickly under those conditions.  In fact, what science has found is that if your corisol, the primary stress hormone, is high enough it is the culprit in shutting down testosterone dirrectly. Some of us can, therefore, increase our testosterone by lowering our Stress and you can read about it here.  Science has discovered that stress is nasty for all of us vertebrates and we humans are no exception. 
  18. Overtraining.  This is one for all you gym rats.  If a little is good, then more must be better, right? Wrong! Overtraining can effect your testosterone  negatively for days afterwards and whack your immunity while it's at it.  Again, if you're overtraining, you can increase your testosterone just by having a little mercy on the ol' bod.  See this link on Overtraining for more details.
  19.  Tribulis Terristris.  Ever stepped on a goat head?  If you know what I'm talking about, then you know Tribulis Terristris.  This herb started with several obscure studies from Eastern Europe showing that it does indeed increase testosterone by increasing leutinizing hormone. Animal research looked great showing increases in testosterone.  Unfortunately, human studies have been disappointing and have shown no significant increases in testosterone. [13] More studies need to be done for verification, but the evidence seems to be that it promotes a slight increase in LH (Leutinizing Hormone), which in turn produces a slight increase in testosterone.  Tribulis is probably not going to dramatically raise your testosterone levels but is definitely worth a try short term.  Tribulis has also been reported - oo la la ! - to increase libido, ejaculatory volume and semen counts. An animal study on rabbits [14] also showed that it increased erectile strength and through increased production of Nitric Oxide. (No, I do wasn't aware that rabbits needed any help breeding.)Yet another study showed that it acted on the brain (of rats) in the same way as an aphrodisiac. [15] So, Tribulis Terristris is an interesting product that is probably worth a try:  it probably is an aphrodisiac and Nitric Oxide booster as well
  20. Horny Goat Weed.  This herb is anything but a weed for males: it increase nitric oxide - woo hoo! - and, at least in healthy rats, testosterone levels as well. [20]  What else could a fella want?  The magic ingredient seems to be icariin, a common extraction component of Horny Goat Weed.  See these links on the Horny Goat Weed - Supplement Extraordinare and The Power of Icariin for more details.
  21. Alcohol.  Watch the alcohol.  Alchohol consumption can lead to Zinc depletion, which in turn can lead to lower testosterone levels.  See this link for more details on the pros and cons of alcohol.
  22. Drop the Extra Weight.There is nothing uglier than those love handles to your health: they are estrogen factories.  Fat converts ever increasing amounts your precious testosterone into estrogen.  Furthermore, low testosterone is correlated to being Overweight. [15] I have elsewhere mentioned a study that examined 64 severely obese men:  their average testosterone was a measly 340 even though the average age was in the late forties. [8] The same study noted that weight was associated with an increasing estrogen and  decreasing testosterone. The authors found that bypass surgery decreased estrogen and increased testosterone significantly! What is interesting is that being overweight lowers SHBG levels, the protein that binds to testosterone, which should translate to higher free testosterone levels.  However, multiple studies have shown that being overweight counterintuitively lowers free testosterone as well. [9] So, basically, being overweight does everything negative possible to your hormone levels!
  23. Thyroid.  Hypothyroidism is associated with low testosterone levels. [12]  Furthermore, an underactive thyroid has many overlapping symptoms with low testosterone which as mental fog, anxiety, low energy, low libido and the like. This is definitely worth checking if you are struggling with low testosterone. (This can also be a definite issue with Female Libido as well.)
  24. Depression.  Depression and testosterone do not go together.  If you want to increase your testosterone, you absolutely must get this under control:  depression leads to lower testosterone levels and is strongly associated with erectile dysfunction as well, which of course will only lead to greater depression.  In addition, many people do not realize that long term depression usually leads to diabetes, heart disease and loss of brain tissue as well.  Please read this link on Depression for more details.
  25. Drinking. I have two important rules that I need you to remember about drinking:  1) Drinking is good for you and 2) Drinking is bad for you. How do you know which rule applies?  If you have one drink per day, two at the most, the studies show long life and happiness in your future.  But if you go beyond 2 drinks per day, the fortune cookie will read the opposite.  Alcohol slows down the liver's ability to metabolize estrogen, leading to increased estrogen levels in your body which decreases the all-critical testosterone/estrogen ratio. So, if you want to increase testosterone, consider your alcohol intake. You need a six pack in your abs not your frig!  (See this link on Alcohol for more details.)
  26. HRT. On this page I have emphasized natural methods of increasing your testosterone.  Well, I want to jump in here and emphasize that if your testosterone is too low, say below 400, you need to get to your doctor and get on Hormone Replacement Therapy, i.e. increasing your testosterone through supplementation. Remember that pure testosterone is natural:  it's a chemical that is in virtually every tissue of your body.  This is in contrast to herbal and other supplement preparations that have sometimes hundreds of ingredients that are foreign to your body.  Most importantly, keep in mind that low testosterone is dangerous:  read the Symptoms here.  
  27. Vitamin C. Vitamin C at megadose levels has been shown to lower cortisol responses to heavy exercise. (I document this in much greater detail in a link on Stress.) And, as I pointed out above, increased cortisol is associated with decreased testosterone. So Vitamin C can easily lead to an indirect increase in testosterone levels.  One well-known study [1] gave 0, 500 mg and 1500 mg to long distance runners for a week before a race.  The 1500 mg group had significantly lower cortisol levels.  Vitamin C will do a host of other good things for your body as well, including protect your skin. However, I should point out that one study did definitely show no improvement in testosterone to cortisol ratios in elite athletes anyway. [19] If Vitamin C is hard on your stomach, realize that they make a non-acidic form of Vitamin C called Ester-C  CAUTION:  Always take Vitamin C with no fat in your stomach:  studies have shown that Vitamin C supplements increase nitrosamine (a carcinogen) levels in the body with even 10% fat in the stomach.  It should also be added that this link shows research that warrants extreme caution in taking Vitamin C if you have skin (or possibly other types of cancers).
  28. Resveratrol.  Resveratrol is a naturally occurring substance that comes from grapes and undoubtedly gives red wine some of its health benefits.  One recent study showed that resveratrol increased testosterone - by over 50% mind you! - in animals. [10] CAUTION:  Resveratrol has incredible potential as a supplement in everything from increasing testosterone to fighting cancer to extending lifespan.  However, it does have several issues:  1) it must be taken in megadoses to produce benefits and 2) some studies have shown it accumulating in the liver.
  29. Questionable: Zinc and ZMA. A zinc deficiency is associated with decreased testosterone production.  So, for certain individuals, supplemental zinc may be beneficial. See this link on The Benefits and Cautions of Zinc and ZMA. CAUTION:  ZMA has an Excitotoxin (aspartate) attached to it.  The reported side effects are sleep distrubances for starters.
  30. CAUTION:  Testosterone is actually produced by an intricate chain of events beginning in the hypothalmus, the part of your brain that is responsible for certain very ground level physiological processes such as your internal clock and autonomic nervous system.  The hypothalamus secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to the pituitary gland in controlled pulses or bursts, which in turn causes the release of leutenizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland.  And it is leutenizing hormone that stimulates the Leydig cells of the testes to create testosterone. Why the science lesson?  Because it is important to know that disease or damage to anything in this physiological chain, i.e. the hypothalmus, pituitary or testes, can cause hypogonadism, or low testosterone and will make it very difficult for you to significantly increase your testosterone. Again, work with your doctor if you have low testosterone.
  31. CAUTION: Speaking of your hypothalamus and pituitary,  Excitotoxins can hammer both of these, potentially damaging both your testosterone and your brain.
  32. Vitamin D.  Turns out a few cents a day of this all-important vitamin could boost your testosterone levels.  Vitamin D is critical for fertility, muscle growth, exercise performance and hundres of other physiological processes.  Read more here about Testosterone and Vitamin D.
  33. Magnesium. What dirt cheap supplement might give you a nice boost in testosterone according to a recent study? Magnesium is very inexpensive and was found in a study of seniors to be tightly correlated with T levels. [30] And it is no wonder: magnesium is used by literally hundreds of critical systems in the body. Read my link on The Importance of Magnesium for more details. Another very interesting study noted that magnesium levels increased testosterone when combined with exercise. [38] (They received 10 mg per kg of body weight.)
  34. Astaxanthin and Saw Palmetto. Could this combo substantially raise testosterone?  One study on healthy males between the ages of 37 and 70, sponsored by the supplement manufacturer, found that testosterone levels were boosted by an average of about 300 ng/dl after 7 days. [31]  Furthermore, DHT and Estradiol were decreased as well. Not bad, eh?  The primary agent in this is likely the astaxanthin, since Saw Palmetto has not done well in testosterone studies.  Plus, astaxanthin has shown horsepower in other ways, such as exhibiting strong anti-cancer and anti-arteriosclerosis properties. [32][33] However, no one knows long term safety at this point. CAUTION:  Although not common, Saw Palmetto has been associated with erectile dysfunction  side effects.
  35. Vitamin E.  Be cautious about megadosing with Vitamin E:  it may lower testosterone.  See this link on Testosterone and Vitamin E for more details.
  36. Caffeine and Cialis.  Wat do Cialis and Caffeine have in common?  They are both PDE5 inhibitors, meaning they boost Nitric Oxide and therefore erections.  (Of course, caffeine is much weaker than Cialis.)  However, they also both share something else in common:  they boost testosterone post-exercise. [23] [24] So why aren't athletes all over the world using this as a regular part of their regimen?  It turns out both of these in the same studies showed a beyond-normal increase in cortisol as well.  Cortisol is a testosterone-fighter and has many other negative side effects including muscle breakdown. Better to do the things the natural way.
  37. Herbs.  There are certain herbs that do actually boost testosterone. See this link on Testosterone and Herbs for more details.  In addition, Miraforte is an example of a blend of herbs and supplements that will likely boost testosterone for some middle-aged males and libido as well.
  38. Phosphatidylserine (S-PS). Bovine-derived phosphatidylserine gained fame as a promising nootropic (brain booster) until concern over possible transfer of infectious disease halted its production. Now phosphatidylserine is derived from plant sources, primarily soy lecithin, and it very impressive results. Where it really seems to excel is in reducing cortisol in athletes and others doing significant exercise. [25] Researchers found that this also led to a 6% increase in testosterone as well.  Although not statistically significant, in general any reduction or limit placed on cortisol is going to boost testosterone, especially in those engaging in vigorous exercise or other stressful activities.
  39. CAUTION: L-Taurine. I had a reader write that he had read that L-Taurine can raise testosterone levels. This probably comes from the anabolic research blog ErgoLog, who wrote about a study on rats that showed a dramatic (twofold!) rise in testosterone from the human equivalent of 5 grams of L-Taurine per day. [26] Unfortunately, this is a rather high dose compared to what is given in most supplements. Furthermore, one human study has shown that 5 grams had no significant effect on T levels. [27] Amino acids are very powerful and have often unanticipated effects in the body, so this solution should be viewed with caution. Of course, taurine is present throughout our bodies in "large" quantities and is present in foods, particularly meats.  However, even omnivores are estimated to consume an average of around 58 mg/day.[28]
  40. Boron (Sodium Tetraborate or Borax). A recent, albeit small study showed that boron can give a nice boost to free testosterone, all the while lowering estradiol as well.  See my link on Boron and Testosterone for more details.
  41. Fenugreek. One study on 30 young males found that 500 mg of Fenugreek increased total and free testosterone by 7% and 12%, respectively. [29]  For more information, see my link on Testeosterone and Herbs.
  42. Visceral Fat.  Gut. Spare Tire. Beer Belly. It doesn't matter what you call it, those extra pounds around your middle have been correlated with lower testosterone. [36] Furthermore, studies have shown that giving men testosterone (Hormone Replacement Therapy) will decrease visceral fat. [37] The reverse is also likely true:  the more visceral fat that you accululate, the lower your testosterone levels.  Read this link on Visceral Fat and How to Beat It for more information.
  43. The bottom line is that it's easy for most of us to increase testosterone 10%-30% by having more frequent sex, sleeping more, lowering stress levels by life style changes (and 1500 mg of Vit C on a Low Fat Diet) and adopting a winning attitude (assuming you're not doing one of the deadly hormonal sins of drinking too much, being overweight or overtraining).

  44. CAUTION: 6-OXO.  Some men consider supplements to be "natural" and this supplement appears to be the "real deal", a legitimate estrogen blocker. In fact, it has been shown to be a permanent aromatase inhibitor, something I cover in my page on Suicide Inhibitors. In 2007 6-OXO was studied definitely and the results look excellent:  resistance-trained males saw "FT [free testosterone] and DHT underwent overall increases of 90% and 192% for 300 mg 6-OXO and 84% and 265% for 600 mg, respectively, while T/E increased 53% and 67% for 300 mg and 600 mg 6-OXO, respectively". [7]  Notice the substantial boosts in free testosterone and the testosterone to estrogen ratio. These number seem high based on #5, but if 6-OXO has even moderate estrogen blocking powers, increases in testosterone would be expected. However, 6-OXO was so effective that the FDA, decided to ban this supplement in August of 2009. [18] This goes back to what I always say, "If it's a legitimate testosterone booster, the FDA will ban it".  And it's not all bad:  6-OXO undoubtedly needed more clinical history.  For example, the above study [7] also showed substantial increases in DHT and estrone for example and there were some very negative side effect reports as well.
  45. CAUTION:  Supplement manufacturers will often put yohimbe or other questionable products into their testosterone formulas. Yohimbe does nothing significant to boost testosterone and simply boosts blood pressure, which is dangerous long (or even short) term. And remember:  a true increase in testosterone will take weeks or months to take effect as androgen receptors and neurotransmitters are rebuilt on the tissue level.  Anything that gives you a feeling of immediate or overnight results is a mirage at best.
  46. Testosterone Killers.  Read this link on common Common Lifestyle and Environmental Testosterone Lowerers.  Remember:  Your testosterone levels are only as high as your weakest link, so many of us guys can increase our testosterone levels simply by getting rid of one or more of these weak links.  It's surprisingly easy for a male to whack his hormones and not even realize it.
  47. Mercury. CAUTION:  Methyl Mercury will definitely lower testosterone. [11] Guess where you can get a nice, stout dose of Mercury for dinner?  Yes, that platter of fish, which originally was one of nature's healthiest foods has very likely been contaminated.  Because of this fact, most experts recommend fish only once or twice per week
  48. Grape Seed Extract. If you really dying to lower estrogen (via inhibition of the aromatase enzyme in this case), the safest choice is probably Grape Seed extract since it is quite well researched..  However, there is a downside:  it can increase SHBG levels, which could actually lower your free testosterone levels.  And our goal is always to increase testosterone, both free and total.  Again, the best way to get estrogen under control is to get lean.  That's right - drop the weight!
  49. Free Testosterone. You should also read my section on Free Testosterone as there I discuss several things that can uniquely kill free testosterone that are not part of the above list.  Losing Free Testosterone is just as serious of an issue as losing total testosterone..
  50. CAUTION:Saw Palmetto.  It is often claimed that Saw Palmetto increases testosterone. However, I know of no study that actually shows this. What saw palmetto does do is lower DHT levels, one of the male androgens infamous for causing hair loss and enlargening the prostate.  This is exactly how the hair restoration drug finasteride, a.k.a. Propecia, i.e. by blocking this same enzyme. The issue is that some men can experience post-finasteride syndrome even with Saw Palmetto. In addition, DHT is very important to your libido and so lowering it is something that should be done cautiously any way.
  51. Insulin Resistance.  Insulin resistance has been correlated with decreased levels of testosterone. [6] Of course, insulin resistance is one of the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome already mentioned.  But I wanted to highlight this because so many guys do not even know what Insulin Resistance means.  Insulin resistance occurs in a "pre-diabetic" stage where your body starts pumping out extra insulin because your cells no longer because your tissues no longer retain their youthful responsiveness.  This means that both glucose and insulin build up in your system because insulin is what allows blood glucose to enter your cells. There are many ways to combat insulin resistance, including exercise and reduction of visceral fat.  For more details, read this link on Metabolic Syndrome.
  52. Mitochondrial Function.  One study found reduced mitochondrial function associated with low testosterone. [6] 

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