The answer is simple: the science just isn’t there. In fact, I’d have to go a step farther: not only is the science not there, but these supplements can be dangerous in some circumstances.
Below are some of the reasons that I think men should be cautious about the testosterone supplement industry as a whole.
1. Added Steroids. Several of the supplement manufacturers have been caught selling untested and/or unsafe steroids to the general public. I have several examples of this including the horror story of Tren Extreme and Liver Damage, Testosterone Loss by Cyclo Bolan and so on.
2. Debatable Results. Many vitamin shop and health food stores carry testosterone boosters that contain Forskolin or Tribulis. I give these coverage on my site – just use the search at the top – as being legitimate T boosters in some circumstances. The problem is that none of these boost testosterone much and are of debatable value for in many or even most cases. For example, Tribulis probably does not work as well for the middle-aged and older. All of this is the reason that the FDA does not regulate them: they simply don’t raise T enough to make it worth their while. NOTE: Supplement manufacturers may also add zinc, which has debatable testosterone-raising powers. For a man with a zinc deficiency maybe. As I cover in my link on Zinc and ZMA, there is also the danger of copper depletion and arterial inflammation from taking too much zinc as well.
3. Side Effects. A few of these supplements are known for having a strong enough side effect profile to bear mentioning. For example, D-Aspartic Acid is known to increase aromatization and thus some men seem to experience estrogen-related side effects, yet you see few supplement sites mentioning this. See #35 in my discussion on How to Increase Your Testosterone Levels for more details.
4. Proprietary Ingredients. Most of these “testosterone supplements” do not even list the ingredients. Are you really going to trust your long term health to a random supplement manufacturer that is hiding their ingredients from you?? How do you know they are not hammering your copper levels with excess zinc? adding excitotoxins? The bottom line is that there is simply no good reason to hide the ingredients from the customer. Quality should sell their products if they really work, right? Seriously, any legitimate T booster will be used by every athletic campus in the country.
5. Bioidentical Testosterone. The bioidentical testosterone that you will get in your doctors office has many advantages. First and foremost, it is as natural of a substance as one could hope for, since it is the testosterone that is naturally teeming through your veins and residing in your tissues. Secondly, it has been heavily studied. Do we know everything about testosterone therapy? Of course not. Are there no side effects to testosterone therapy? Of course not. However, we do have extensive physician usage over the last twenty years and literally dozens of studies looking at its effects. What herb or supplement can you say this for? And any decent physician is going to carefully monitor your prostate, PSA, blood counts, liver function and so on, so you are under actually modern monitoring and control.
6. Levels. Most guys who begin to experieince low testosterone symptoms, from what I have seen in my emails, are in the 150-350 ng/dl range. These men need a very significant boost in T and they’re probably not going to get it from any of the legal herbs (at least here in the U.S.). This leaves these men at risk for all the nasty conditions that can results from hypogonadal T levels, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, erectile dysfunction and heart disease. In other words, let’s say you’re a man with testosterone of 250 and you buy a mildly powerful testosterone booster that bumps you up 30% to 325. You are still very low and very much at risk for significant health issues but may be completely unaware because you think you are taking a T-boosting supplement..
So am I saying that there are no herbs or supplements that will raise testosterone? As I mentioned above, there are definitely some testosterone supplements that will work and I cover the interesting ones in my link on Testosterone and Herbs.