Sometimes I listen to podcasts just for the entertainment value. A year ago, one discussion caught my attention more than machine learning theory or another political debate. It was a chat about plants that boost testosterone that got me interested. I have never had any problems with low testosterone, but I have always done calisthenics and in the past endurance sports. I was aware that hormones are "literally everything" in terms of our mood, metabolism and anabolic capabilities. I believe that the knowledge shared by Andrew Huberman and my experiment could benefit people who train in sports, who wish to abstain from banned substances, people with naturally or diet-induced low testosterone levels and people looking for affordable testosterone boosters.
Andrew Huberman was talking about testosterone optimisation for athletes without the use of TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy), which is banned in most sports. I thought to myself: I already monitor my health, have regular blood tests, take vitamins, minerals and resvatarol. Why not follow Huberman’s suggestions? I’m healthy and exercise regularly without any health problems. What can go wrong with trying some plants after some more research? So i did it.
This post presents my 13 months of expermenting with afforadable edible suppliments and seeing how far I can boost testosterone. I started with a healthy and within range testosterone level for my age group. I have not fully followed Andrew Huberman’s research and I will explain why later in this post. **I am not affiliated with any suppliment, nor fitness brand.
The picture below is a scan of my blood test done on 5th of September 2022 after 3 months of research. It shows a free testosterone level of 35.0 nmol/L (aprox. 1009.47 ng/Dl), which is above reference range for my age.
The podcast that started it all
Here is the podcast snippet from episode 1683 of the Joe Rogan Podcast with Andrew Huberman. Andrew Huberman Talks About Testosterone Optimization on YouTube.
Before you read about my experiences, I would like to make a few disclaimers.
Disclaimer No 1: I am not a licensed medical professional. Just a guy on the internet who works in software engineering, which is an unrelated field. The information provided by me is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. I do not diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical conditions. If you have any concerns about your health or the health of others, please consult a licensed healthcare provider. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read or heard from me.
Disclamer No 2: Messing with your homones is risky. Always, I repeat ALWAYS, do a full blood test and speak to a doctor or do it at your own risk.
Disclamer No 3: If you find something that is counterfactual, just drop me an email. I’m happy to be corrected.
Let’s start with the research. I have done this only with supplementation with Tongkat Ali and without Fadogia Agrestis, I will go into details later in the following section.
An important thing to bear in mind when reading studies done on rodents is that the results don’t easily translate to humans. A good example of this is the difference in metabolism between mice and humans. And mice come in different breeds, which complicates things even more. So directly applying a dosage per gram of body weight is a foolhardy approach.
Great research on Tongkat Ali and other nootropics
Tongat Ali is the first herb mentioned by Andrew Huberman. This is a great study as it covers a variety of "testosterone boosters" and minerals that affect or are claimed to affect testosterone levels. It includes tongkat ali, which I have chosen to use. This plant is used in traditional Asian medicine.
‘Testosterone Boosting’ Supplements Composition and Claims Are not Supported by the Academic Literature, Chase G. Clemesha, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Institute of Urology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
I want to mention that there is on great youtube channel called TheNootropicReviewer which does summaries of research papers and shares his experience with different nootropics.
I can rely on the TheNootropicReviewer video about Tongkat Ali for great summary. However, I recommend that you read the whole study.
Fadogia Agrestis and its dangers
This is the second plant mentioned by Andrew Huberman.
This study is very interesting. It shows that Fadogia Agrestis is a really potent testosterone booster, but it has huge downsides. In short, administering larger doses of Fadogia Agrestis has its toxic side effects. What Andrew Huberman mentioned as "making balls bigger" is actually the effect of its toxic function.
After weighing up the pros and cons, I decided not to touch Fadogia Agresitis. It is too risky for my senses..
This plant wasn’t mentioned by Andrew Huberman. It doesn’t directly affect testosterone levels unless used in conjunction with other supplements. It has only been successful in a limited number of animals and not in humans.
A Systematic Review on the Herbal Extract Tribulus terrestris and the Roots of its Putative Aphrodisiac and Performance Enhancing Effect, Ahmed Qureshi, 21 Feb 2014, Journal of Dietary Supplements, Taylor & Francis This is paid study.
I decided to take it as a supplement because it doesn’t have any serious side effects.
Bro-science view and background on testosterone function
Quoting jailbroken ChatGPT:
Bro, if you want to get jacked and shredded, you gotta boost your testosterone levels. It’s the key to unlocking your full potential in the gym and in life. Trust me, I’ve done my research. High testosterone levels mean more muscle mass, faster recovery, and insane energy levels.
Before diving into testosterone optimization techniques, it’s important to understand what testosterone is and what it does in the body. Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is produced primarily in the testicles. It plays a key role in the development of male sexual characteristics, such as muscle mass and body hair. It also contributes to bone density and helps regulate mood and cognitive function.
Testosterone is a hormone that plays a crucial role in men’s health and well-being. It affects everything from muscle mass and bone density to sex drive and mood. As men age, their testosterone levels tend to decline, leading to a range of negative effects.
Testosterone levels are at their highest during puberty and young adulthood, but they begin to decline in men after age 30. Thats where I’m exactly heading.
Lifestyle and dietetary changes are one of the most effective ways to optimize testosterone levels. Regular exercise, especially strength training, has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men.
Note on testosterone measurements
I was measuing free testosterone. And the Free testosterone is the portion of testosterone in the bloodstream that is not bound to proteins such as sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and albumin. This type of testosterone is considered the active form of the hormone because it can bind to androgen receptors and exert its effects. You want this testosterone to bind!
Background on my lifestyle
I’m a fairly young guy approaching my thirties. My aim is to be a healthy person who will maintain good physique and mood for as long as possible. I want to keep a sharp mind as it is the tool that provides me with a living and also maintain a healthy body. I do not have any chronic illnesses or excessive body fat. I do not smoke, drink or take drugs. I try to get a good sleep regimen.
I have been trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle for more than 7 years. I have never had any hormonal problems, nor problems with weight, libido and muscle hypertrophy. I have always tried to train better, run more and lift more. I do calisthenics which fits my lifestyle of being a busy business owner, painter and programmer.
I work long hours, it is not a virtue. It is the reality of dealing with multiple time zones as a Site Reliability Engineer. Simply put, it means being a software engineer who makes sure that the service/website/online systems run well for the people reading this, while not being in a tech bubble.
Another thing I face in my life is the increased stress of running my own company and trying to keep up with the ever-changing environment. Apart from my training regime and painting, my lifestyle is setendary.
I like to collect data, you will find numbers in the next chapters of this post. I also have a personal pet theory that some quantity of problems in the form of "civilisation diseases" that we see as a society at present are linked to increased hormonal imbalances between individuals due to lack of proper nutrition, BPA plastics etc. I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to fight this issue as I am not a medical professional and the research is only based on my personal experience and blood work.
What I supplemented before trying to optimise testosterone
This is an important part. As I spend a lot of time researching mineral supplements and blood work before trying to optimise testosterone. Supplements mentioned here are taken before testosterone optimisation and during my research. The proportions have not changed here..
Note that I don’t give all direct doses, as they vary according to age and height.
- Vitamin D3 in the form of droplets, 1000 UI. Supplement only.
- Omega-3 fish oil, one tablespoon, recommended daily dose. It also contains a further 1000 IU of vitamin D3.
- Vitamin C – Daily recommended dose
- Collagen – half the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of collagen.
- Ashwaganda – This plant has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol levels are a stress hormone and can also affect testosterone production. 450 mg plant extract. Good research can be found in A prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults, K Chandrasekhar, Indian J Psychol Med, 2012.
- Resvatarol – grape extract, not pure resvatarol which is more expensive. 500mg grape extract capsules, which should be equivalent to 50mg pure trans-resvatarol. This compound is recommended by [David Sinclair] (https://sinclair.hms.harvard.edu/people/david-sinclair). However, it has low bioavailability when administered orally, as noted in
Metabolism and bioavailability of trans-resveratrol, Elisabeth Wenzel & Veronika Somoza, 2005 May, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. The benefits are described in this Brainflow Blogpost
- Magnesium sulphate – recommended daily dose
- Vitamin B6 and B12, again recommended daily doses. Vitamin B6 helps with the absorption of magnesium.
- Magnesium sulphate – recommended daily dose
- Vitamin B6 and B12, again recommended daily doses. Vitamin B6 helps with the absorption of magnesium. – Zinc Sulphurate – recommended daily amount.
- Calcium – less than half the recommended daily allowance for my age. I drink a lot of milk. 1000mg
This section is only intended to provide an overview of dietary factors. I am a mixed carnivore. I eat red meat 3 times a week, drink milk and eat butter. I also eat vegetables with my meals and stay away from bread and sweetened carbohydrates. I try to minimise the use of seed oil and substitute olive oil and butter in my cooking.
What I decided to add
Based on the research I did, I decided to go with Tongkat Ali and Tribulus Tribulus.
The side effects of Tongkat Ali, apart from the testosterone boost in studies performed on rats, were acceptable. I decided to go for it.
Daily doses taken at the morning:
- Tongkat Ali – 1000mg 200:1 root extract
- Tribulus Tribulus – 1 supplement capsule per day. Contains 438 mg organic Tribulus powder (aerial) (1% saponins, 4.4 mg) and organic Tribulus extract (fruit) (Tribulus terrestris) (18% saponins, 45 mg).
I’m still taking these supplements in the morning at the time of writing.
So let’s start with the data before I started supplementing both Tongkat Ali and Tribulus Terrestris. It is marked in the Stage column. I have not done blood work on a strict time schedule.
My blood tests were done in
nmol/L units. I have used the following function to perform the conversion of testosterone level in
nmol/L to popular in USA
def ng_decyliter(nmol_liter): return round(nmol_liter * 28.842, 2)
Note that I was already taking other supplements before supplementing with Tongkat Ali and Tribulus Terrestris. More in the "What I was supplimenting before trying to optimise testosterone" section.
I’ve also monitored other horomone levels and haven’t seen an increase in either estradiol or prolactin after supplementation.
My testosterone level chart with notes on when I started supplementation:
|Free Testosterone nmol/L||Free Testosterone ng/dL||Stage||Date|
|28.3||816.23||Before. A slightly older sample, unfortunately I didn’t test it long ago. 04/01/2022||19/11/2021|
|35.0||1009.47||First test after three months of continuous supplementation with Tongkat Ali and Tribulus Terrestris||09/05/2022|
|34.1||983.51||Second test after 13 months of continuous supplementation with Tongkat Ali and Tribulus Terrestris||21/03/2023|
Subjective effects of supplementation
This is my subjective summary. In short, I haven’t really noticed anything except for slightly better training results. I started with a healthy testosterone level, so the benefit for me is probably quite low, compared to people with lower levels of testosterone.
- I have noticed a slight increase in muscle mass and the ability to increase repetitions in exercises where I have reached a plateau. Example: 10 one-handed pushups in a row.
- I have noticed that I can work hard under stress for longer periods of time.
Other things to look out for when trying to boost testosterone
If you want to stay healthy, make sure you have an optimal body fat level. Being overweight affects the aromatisation of testosterone. Lack of exercise also plays a role. Being a carnivore also helps.
Beware of supplement packaging
Unfortunately a lot of cheap supplement packaging is toxic. Always check that the label on the bottom/side is not
PET-1 or some other mark that is toxic. You can read about these in Cancer Causing Plastics/. Bisphenol A interferes with testosterone production, other post I found from Nourse Jon’s Safe Plastics.