Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays important roles in the body. In men, it’s thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm. A small amount of circulating testosterone is converted to estradiol, a form of estrogen. As men age, they often make less testosterone, and so they produce less estradiol as well. Thus, changes often attributed to testosterone deficiency might be partly or entirely due to the accompanying decline in estradiol.
Testosterone functions within the brain. There are several lines of evidence for this: there are androgen receptors within the brain; testosterone is converted to both dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and estradiol by the actions of 5-α-reductase and aromatase respectively in the brain; steroid hormones promote neuronal cell growth and survival (Azad et al 2003). Testosterone enhances cerebral perfusion in hypogonadal men and that perfusion takes place specifically in Brodman areas 8 and 24, regions of the brain that are concerned with: strategic planning, higher motor action, cognitive behaviors, emotional behavior, generalized emotional reaction, wakefulness and memory (Greenlee 2000; Azad et al 2003). Studies of cognition demonstrate that older men with higher levels of free testosterone index (a surrogate measure of bioavailable testosterone) have better scores in tests of: visual memory, verbal memory, visuospatial functions and visuomotor scanning. Hypogonadal men have lower scores in tests of memory, visuospatial function, with a faster decline in visual memory (Moffat et al 2002). In a very small, short term placebo-controlled study hypogonadal men with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) treated with testosterone demonstrated a modest improvement in a cognition assessment score in AD (Tan and Pu 2003).
Every vitamin, mineral, and ingredient that affects the human body can be taken in enough quantities that they are harmful, or toxic, even the ones that — at lower levels — are beneficial or necessary. Unfortunately, testosterone boosters contain a lot of ingredients that are not well understood. This means in addition to not being able to confirm whether certain ingredients increase testosterone, the scientific and medical communities also don’t know at what levels many ingredients become toxic. On the up side, you might need to eat several pounds of a particular leafy plant before it becomes harmful. On the down side, it could be significantly less that pushes you over your body’s limit. We simply don’t know how little or how much the human body can tolerate. We recommend keeping your doctor in the loop when you add any supplement with unproven ingredients into your diet — they’ll be able to help you find and track any undesired side-effects that these ingredients might cause.
Saw palmetto: Uses, dosage, and side effects Saw palmetto is an extract from the berries of a type of palm tree. The berries have traditionally been used to ease urinary and reproductive problems. The extract is now used in herbal remedies to stabilize testosterone. Learn about its use, its effectiveness, the science behind the claims, and any side effects. Read now