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4 Herbs That Support Healthy Testosterone

From abstinence to oysters, there is no shortage of old wives’ tales about how to boost testosterone. And while a number of factors contribute to healthy T levels in both men and women, your daily supplement routine can have a bigger impact than you might realize. 

Ahead, health experts explain the importance of having healthy testosterone levels, as well as how you can support yours naturally.

Testosterone, Explained 

Put simply, testosterone is a hormone produced by the gonads (testicles or ovaries) and adrenal glands that supports bone and muscle mass, regulates sex drive, impacts body fat patterns, and encourages the development of secondary sex characteristics. 

Sometimes known as the primary male sex hormone, testosterone is responsible for characteristics such as the growth of facial hair, a lower voice, a higher sex drive, and enhanced muscle strength, explains naturopathic physician Kiera Lane, N.M.D., MSAc, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., director of Arizona Natural Medicine. “It also supports the development of male reproductive tissues and organs, like the testicles and prostate,” she notes. 

Read More: 7 Signs You Should Have Your Testosterone Levels Tested

However, women make and need this hormone, too. Produced in small amounts by the ovaries and adrenal glands, “in females, this hormone plays a pivotal role in energy levels, sexual drive, muscle strength, and also influences body hair and the menstrual cycle,” says Lane. 

The “Right” Amount Of Testosterone

Regardless of sex, the delicate balance of testosterone levels is crucial for overall health, wellness, and functions. “Testosterone levels that are either too high or too low can yield significant consequences that impact various aspects of health,” says Lane. While the Goldilocks amount of testosterone varies from individual to individual, 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood is considered optimal for males, while 15 to 70 nanograms per deciliter of blood is the sweet spot for females. 

Deviations from these optimal testosterone ranges—in particular, drops below them—can result in a slew of unfortunate symptoms in both men and women, according to doctor of osteopathic medicine and licensed wellness specialist Kevin Huffman, D.O. “In men, lower levels of testosterone are typically associated with reduced body hair growth, fatigue, decreased muscle mass and/or strength, and diminished libido, as well as erectile dysfunction and feelings of depression,” he says. 

Read More: 3 Lifestyle Factors That Mess With Testosterone

When women’s testosterone levels are too low, they can experience similar symptoms, such as decreased libido, weight gain, generalized fatigue, worsened mood, loss of muscle mass, and bone density changes, says Lane. Those with optimal levels, meanwhile, feel more energetic and vibrant.

You Can Impact Your Own Testosterone Levels 

An individual’s testosterone levels are modulated by a wide variety of factors, including age, body fat, genetics, overall health, medications, and lifestyle factors, to name just a few. While some of these factors (like genetics and age) are out of your control, you can exert considerable influence over others through lifestyle edits, says Huffman. 

“Getting quality sleep, managing stress levels effectively, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating nutrient-dense foods all impact your hormone levels—testosterone included,” he says. As far as nutrition is concerned, a diet that is high in sugar, processed foods, saturated fats, and alcohol can interfere with healthy testosterone levels, while a diet replete with protein, healthy fats, and various vitamins and minerals tends to support them, Huffman adds. Further, there are certain supplements that individuals can ingest that are thought to support healthy testosterone levels. 

4 Herbs That Support Healthy Testosterone Levels 

In addition to making other strategic lifestyle changes to promote healthy testosterone, consider updating your supplement routine. A variety of herbs have long been used to support healthy testosterone (and other hormone) levels. Here are four to try for yourself. 

1. Ashwagandha 

Ashwagandha, also known as withania somnifera, is thought to increase testosterone levels toward optimal ranges in males. “This herb gained attention after it showed potential to increase testosterone levels, improve sperm parameters, and [improve] overall reproductive health and fertility,” says Lane. 

Allow the research to speak for itself. One 2019 study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health found that overweight men aged 40 to 70 who supplemented with ashwagandha extract for eight weeks experienced a 15 percent greater increase in testosterone levels compared to those who supplemented with a placebo. Meanwhile, a 2022 study published in Health Science Reports found that males who supplemented with ashwagandha root for eight weeks experienced a significant increase in testosterone levels and reported improved sexual well-being. 

And about those sperm: Research published in Evidence-Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ashwagandha enhanced sperm count, motility (the ability of sperm to move), and morphology (sperm shape and structure). This effect may be due to ashwagandha’s support of testosterone and another hormone called luteinizing hormone, suggests board-certified urologist Andrew Y. Sun M.D., Chief Medical Advisor for Marius Pharmaceuticals, a health organization helping individuals achieve healthy testosterone levels. 

Generally speaking, 300 milligrams of the ashwagandha root extract is considered the sweet spot for supplementation. Keep in mind that ashwagandha is a stimulant, and may interfere with sleep quality and quantity in sensitive individuals. (FYI: Low-quality sleep has been linked with lower testosterone levels.) So, be sure to take note of how your sleep schedule alters following supplementation. 

2. Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is a berry plant that can be distilled in extract and taken in supplement form, most commonly to support prostate health and boost male libido. 

In one 2020 study published in the journal BMC Urology, subjects who took 500 milligrams of saw palmetto oil every day for 12 weeks saw a greater testosterone level boost, higher urine flow rate, and greater prostate health than those who took the placebo. 

Meanwhile, a small study published in Phytotherapy Research found that individuals who supplemented with 320 milligrams of the plant extract for eight weeks experienced improved prostate health, and as a result, improved sexual well-being. The researchers noted that an enlarged prostate often interferes with erectile function and sexual performance, so by supporting a healthy prostate size, supplementation offers carryover to the bedroom. 

What does that all mean for T? “This herb contains a compound that keeps testosterone from converting into dihydrotestosterone (DHT),” says Huffman. By stopping the conversion of testosterone into DHT, testosterone levels remain higher which offers benefits like improved libido. Plus, since DHT is linked with prostate enlargement in men, reducing levels of it helps reduce the risk of prostate enlargement, he explains. 

Saw palmetto has not been found to interfere with other medications or cause unwanted symptoms. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of reduced libido or enlarged prostate health talk to your healthcare provider before attempting to self-treat at home. If your doctor gives you the green light to support your health with saw palmetto, start with 150 to 200 milligrams twice per day, or 300 to 400 milligrams once daily, as this amount is the most widely researched

3. Tongkat Ali 

Tongkat ali isn’t just fun to say; it also offers some fun, or at least promising, benefits to men who supplement. “It’s one of the more promising T-boosting herbs out there, and data seems to suggest that supplementation can positively impact testosterone levels,” says Sun. 

Indeed, one small study published in the journal Andrologia compared the testosterone levels of men who supplemented with 200 milligrams of tongkat ali extract per day for a month to those who did not. The findings showed that 90 percent of those who supplemented experienced significant increases in their testosterone levels. A 2022 review published in Medicina also found tongkat ali to be consistently effective at promoting testosterone levels.

The exact mechanism behind these benefits is unknown, but experts hypothesize that the benefits come from the high quantities of certain antioxidants in tongkat ali. 

Tongkat ali is thought to be safe for healthy adults in amounts between 200 and 400 milligrams per day. However, high dosages may have the potential to damage DNA, so it’s best to consult a healthcare provider before supplementing. 

4. Fadogia Agrestis

If you’re on Wellness TikTok or listen to the popular Huberman Lab podcast, you’ve likely heard of fadogia agrestis, which is a Nigerian shrub that many holistic providers claim can support healthy testosterone levels. 

Much of the research done on this supplement has been done on animal, not human, subjects—though the findings are promising, according to Sun. “One study conducted in male rats indicated that the aqueous extract of fadogia agrestis stem supplementation may increase blood serum testosterone concentrations,” he says. A second study also linked fadogia agrestis supplementation with boosted testosterone levels, as well as improved testicle function. 

More research is needed to better understand how this herb may support healthy T in humans, so check in with your healthcare provider before adding fadogia agrestis to your routine, recommends Huffman. Most supplements contain 600 milligrams of the herb per serving.  

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