In your experience, in what context has turmeric come up in your conversations? As a popular spice, it’s likely around tinkering with the flavor or color of a favorite meal. But testosterone? Guess what, turmeric is touted as a testosterone booster. If you think about it, this is not as outlandish as it seems. Flavor-enhancing ingredients like garlic lay claim to testosterone improving power. Well, as you know by now, there is myth and then there is fact. Before you rush to your nearest store to stock up on turmeric powder, turmeric tea or whole turmeric root, let’s find out whether the research does add up.
What you need to know:
Health Benefits of Turmeric
I may have seemed to reduce turmeric to a meal flavor. That would be doing gross injustice to this plant that some have even gone as far as to call it a superfood. A close relative of ginger, turmeric has multiple benefits to overall health. It’s quite telling that turmeric has been a fixture of Chinese and ayurvedic medicine for centuries.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric from which most of its best known health benefits are derived. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Whereas how it works exactly is not well understood, turmeric is known to have an abundance of phytonutrients that shield the cells from free radicals generated by sunlight and pollution. Turmeric has therefore found application in:
Testosterone Production and Turmeric
Turmeric does aid testosterone production but not directly. How?
Good cholesterol (also known as HDL) is a building block for DHEA, a precursor to testosterone. Turmeric supports this by reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and boosting the proportion of HDL in the process.
Activation of vitamin D receptors
The four main natural building blocks of healthy testosterone are exercise, good diet, adequate sleep and good old vitamin D. But vitamin D is only as good as the body’s ability to absorb it. Turmeric increases the absorption rate by activating vitamin D receptors.
This may sound counterintuitive to the cholesterol point but it isn’t. Good cholesterol is not synonymous with weight gain. On the other hand, weight loss is good for testosterone production (partly why exercise and a good diet is important for testosterone) Turmeric accelerates thermogenesis - that is the rate at which the body burns up excess fat. It also slows the storage of fat and is even shown to destroy fat cells.
Protect Leydig cells
Leydig cells play a central role in testosterone production. If they are inflamed, you can start to kiss goodbye to your body’s ability to produce testosterone in adequate amounts. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory characteristics protect the Leydig cells.
Blood sugar regulation
Diabetes has far reaching effects on the affected person’s health and that includes their testosterone levels. Curcumin regulates blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity.
Cautions and Counterarguments
Turmeric may have a lot of benefits for overall health as well as a suspected boost of free testosterone. However, exercise caution. For starters, do not use more turmeric than is necessary. Ingesting more curcumin than your body needs could be risky. Excessive turmeric intake may increase the likelihood of kidney stones and gastrointestinal diseases especially if you have a genetic predisposition for it.
If you have to go for a turmeric/curcumin supplement, make sure the amounts fall within recommended range for daily consumption. Otherwise, incorporating turmeric in your diet should always be your first course of action.
Do not take turmeric for low testosterone without a doctor’s clearance. Yes, you can get the supplement over the counter at no risk of breaking the law. However, you may have medical conditions or be on long term prescription drugs that could interact with turmeric leading to undesirable consequences. Case in point? Pain relievers, chemotherapy, blood thinners and immunosuppressive medication.
For allergen-sensitive persons, turmeric may cause abdominal pain, hives or rash.
I would hesitate to categorize turmeric as a superfood. What is clear is that it has multiple proven benefits including supporting healthy testosterone levels. So is it the right testosterone-enhancing solution for you? I’d say it depends.
If you have only mild testosterone deficiency, then turmeric could help. And I do not mean in the quantities found in its natural state or that you would put in food. That is likely to be too little to make a meaningful impact. Instead, buy turmeric supplements or testosterone boosters containing turmeric. In cases of moderate to severe testosterone deficiency, the doctor may place you on more aggressive treatment options like testosterone replacement therapy.