Testosterone is an androgen and the primary sex hormone in males. It is secreted by the gonads (the testes in men, and to a lesser degree, the ovaries in women). Testosterone levels in men are on average seven to eight times higher than in women.
During male puberty, testosterone stimulates genital development, hairiness, voice-breaking, sexual desire, etc.
Testosterone continues to play a key role in male health throughout life: particularly in libido, erections, spermatogenesis (maturation of sperm) and psychological well-being. With an anabolic effect, it increases protein synthesis in cells and supports post-exercise muscle repair. This androgen thus stimulates increased muscle mass. Testosterone also plays a role in bone health.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help sustain good testosterone levels:
Blood levels of testosterone inevitably and irreversibly decline with age, by around 1%-2% a year from the age of 30. Specific formulations have indeed been developed for men over 50 who suffer from testosterone aromatisation.
So let’s look at how you can naturally increase your testosterone levels and maintain optimal virility with the help of 5 natural and effective compounds.
Tribulus terrestris, or Maltese Cross, is a yellow flowering plant that has been used for more than 3000 years in traditional Ayurvedic, Chinese and Greek medicine, for addressing sexual dysfunction and infertility.
In particular, this plant contains protodioscin, which stimulates luteinizing hormone (LH). This travels to the testicles via the bloodstream where it triggers an increase in the production of testosterone and thus its concentration in blood (1). Tribulus therefore supports good hormonal and sexual health. It is also widely used by body-builders.
Tribulus can be found in capsule form or as a component of synergistic formulations targeted at male vigour (such as Prosexual Formula Man, which combines Tribulus terrestris with vitamin B3, bois bandé, and Avena sativa...)
The trace element zinc helps to maintain normal blood testosterone levels (2). It actually inhibits aromatase, the enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen. Zinc also plays a role in sperm production. Zinc deficiency has been seen to cause a reduction in sperm numbers.
The best dietary sources of zinc include oysters, offal, red meat, spinach, broccoli, and wholemeal bread. You can also boost your daily intake by taking a zinc supplement (such as Zinc Orotate, which contains the most bioavailable form of zinc). It’s worth mentioning that zinc supplementation combines well with that in magnesium (try, for example, the product OptiMag).
Ginseng root (Panax ginseng), sometimes called the ‘root of heaven’, is the best-known of all the Asian medicinal plants. It is renowned for its general tonic effect: supporting immunity and circulation, combatting fatigue and stress ...
But did you know it also helps to increase testosterone levels in men? In one study, 66 subjects given extract of Panax ginseng saw their testosterone levels rise compared with controls (3). Their sperm count and motility also increased. Another study of 45 subjects showed a beneficial effect from ginseng on erectile function (4). These benefits are due, in particular, to the plant’s stress-busting (and thus cortisol-lowering) properties.
Panax ginseng can be consumed as a decoction, tea or dietary supplement (such as Ginseng 30%, a ginseng extract standardized to 30% ginsenosides, the plant’s most active ingredients).
Damiana (also known as Turnera aphrodisiaca or Turnera diffusa) is a drink originating from the Americas, rich in flavonoids such as apigenin, damianin and echinacin, and in terpene compounds, caffeine, and arbutin ... Its leaves are traditionally used as an aphrodisiac.
It plays a role in mental well-being, promotes desire and helps maintain good sexual relations in both men and women (5). This ‘sensual pleasure herb’ is believed to work primarily by combatting activity of the enzyme aromatase and thus the conversion of testosterone into estrogen (6). Its anti-anxiety effects also seem to improve male sexual energy (7-8).
To support your male hormone levels and spice up your sex life, take an extract of Damiana leaf (for example the supplement Damiana Extract).
Last but not least, Mucuna pruriens (or velvet bean) is a leguminous plant rich in L-DOPA, the dopamine precursor. This little bean is good for both the nervous system and the immune system, though its benefits don’t stop there.
Mucuna also promotes increased testosterone levels (9-10), and boosts androgen receptor activity. It may also act on reproductive health by converting prolactin, a hormone that can cause headaches and erectile problems (11). One study also showed that Mucuna improves sperm volume and quality (12).
In terms of male vigour, extract of Mucuna pruriens works well when combined with fenugreek, which supports healthy blood flow (as in the formulation Prosexual Booster Formula, which combines extract of Mucuna pruriens with the patented fenugreek extract Testofen®, as well as arginine, and citrulline...)
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