If you have a severe testosterone deficit, your doctor may recommend an aggressive approach such as testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). For low to moderate testosterone shortfalls, herbal extracts may do you good. Let’s touch on 10 of the best herbs for increasing free testosterone. I make some dosage recommendations but take these as guidelines since actual ideal quantities may vary from person to person.
Quick facts overview
1. Horny Goat Weed
Can a plant’s name get any more obvious than this? Relax, horny goat weed won’t unleash your raw inner animal instinct. It may however increase your testosterone levels by a significant margin. Studies on rodents show horny goat weed supplementation had a positive effect on free testosterone in addition to increasing sperm count.
The right dose lies between 50 and 600 mg per day. Side effects are few and far between but very high doses may cause breathing problems.
If you thought that the Kamasutra was the biggest sex export the Indian subcontinent has gifted the world, guess again. Ashwagandha might just be it. It is not by accident that ayurvedic medicine has held this plant in high regard for centuries. Also known as withania somnifera, researchers are increasingly finding that the science does align with traditional medicine including demonstrating improvements in testosterone, sperm health and sperm count.
The active agent is extracted from its berries and roots then produced as capsules and teas. A daily dose of 250 mg to 1,000 mg should do the trick for gradually correcting low testosterone. In excess, ashwagandha may lead to stomach discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea.
3. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea has been a supplement people go to for improvements in physical strength and cognitive performance as well as a reduction in stress levels. Sexual health and performance hasn’t always come up in conversation but that has been changing fast. Studies have started to show that its ability to improve strength and cognition lies in its capacity to boost testosterone production.
Anything between 200 mg to 600 mg per day falls within the recommended dose. It has little to no side effects.
4. Malaysian Ginseng
You may be more familiar with its famous namesake panax ginseng (also known as Asian ginseng). But that ginseng is not the same ginseng as this ginseng. Still, maybe there’s just something special about ginsengs (incidentally, ashwagandha is sometimes called Indian ginseng).
Because Malaysian ginseng does have multiple benefits including the management of inflammation, diabetes and malaria. Also called eurycoma longifolia or Tongkat ali, it is an aphrodisiac too. Does it improve free testosterone though? Multiple studies say yes, yes and yes. A dose of 300 mg to 400 mg each day is the sweet spot. The key side effect is stomach discomfort.
5. Pine bark
Also referred to as pinus pinaster, pine bark contains proanthocyanidins. It’s a bit of a mouthful but all you need to know is that these compounds have been shown to improve cardiovascular health, reduce bad cholesterol and treat erectile dysfunction. In more recent years, researchers found that pine bark extract may also improve free testosterone levels when paired with l-arginine.
Word of caution though – pine bark extract use is discouraged if you are on immunosuppressive, anticoagulant or chemotherapy medication. Take between 50 mg and 450 mg each day. Pine bark extract has little to no side effects.
6. Saw Palmetto
Not one to come up frequently in conversation around testosterone boosters, saw palmetto is criminally underrated. A shrub-like herb, it works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT, a compound linked to prostate problems and male baldness. Studies show that men who take this plant extract combined with the antioxidant astaxanthin leads to significant improvement in free testosterone.
A daily dose should be between 300 mg and 1,000 mg. In excess, saw palmetto may cause diarrhea, nausea, dizziness and headache.
Ginger has been a natural go-to solution for coughs and colds. A strong antioxidant, it does increase testosterone levels too. There isn’t unanimity over how exactly it does that but many suspect a connection to luteinizing hormone. This approximation is in part due to a study showing a 100 percent increase in LH and 17 percent rise in testosterone after ginger supplementation.
Dosage-wise, I would recommend you take 500 mg to 3,000 mg per day. Look out for side effects like burping, stomach pain, diarrhea and heartburn.
Also known as trigonella foenum-graecum, fenugreek is another herb that’s widely used in weight loss supplements but has a testosterone boosting side. Fenugreek seed extract has proven to be especially useful for lifting testosterone levels in women.
Studies show an improvement in testosterone and libido after weeks of fenugreek supplementation.
A good daily dosage could range anywhere from 1,000 mg to 10,000 mg. Possible side effects include bloating, gas, diarrhea and stomach pain.
This plant of the onion family can do more for you than just make your food taste better. Studies on rodents have so far shown an increase in testosterone after garlic supplementation. Also known as allium sativum, garlic has a myriad of other health benefits such as regulating blood pressure, cardiovascular function, immunity and preventing cancer.
Garlic supplements may be made from fresh garlic, dried garlic or garlic oil. 300 to 1,000 mg per day is a safe band. Side effects of excessive use include diarrhea, gas and heartburn.
Also referred to as the puncture vine for the sharp spines that cover it, its fruit and root has long been considered an aphrodisiac in traditional Asian medicine. While studies to confirm a link between the plant and testosterone production are still in relative infancy, there are strong suspicions that its libido-enhancing powers could be a result of the testosterone boost.
Doses of 750 to 1000 mg should work for most people. Exceeding this could lead to diarrhea, cramping and stomach pain.
Unlike TRT, herbs simply support your body’s own testosterone producing processes. It is a gradual curve that increases your testosterone levels marginally but steadily. Herbal extracts are worth considering if you are experiencing disruptive side effects from more mainstream testosterone treatment like TRT.
Either way, start off by making that doctor’s appointment and get thae clearance you need to use a herb-based supplement. And don’t forget the basics of testosterone – exercise, good diet and sleep.