Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone in mammals, present in the human body. Both men and women have a natural amount of it, although it is more prevalent in males. Our bodies start to manufacture the hormone when we go through puberty, and this is reflected with changes in the structure of the body and brain. Most popularly, we associate testosterone with a higher sex drive and more aggressive behaviour, but it also affects physiological factors such as muscle and bone density. These visual symptoms are what a lot of people seek to enhance, although they may also be interested in the effect of testosterone on our mood and energy levels.
Like any naturally occurring chemical in the body, levels of testosterone can fluctuate over time, and in men, testosterone production dips over the age of 30. When a person experiences low levels of this hormone, there can be a variety of effects. These range from a severely reduced sex drive to weight gain, a lack of energy, irritability and moodiness, thinner bones and loss of muscle mass and even feelings of depression and low self-esteem. Certain events in life, chronic stress or serious health conditions can also affect the body’s production of testosterone.
About Testosterone Therapy
When someone experiences a sudden drop in testosterone and some or all of the side effects listed above, understandably they usually want to do something to improve their situation. This is when they may start looking into the therapies that are available. Low levels of testosterone can be diagnosed via a simple blood test. Treatment is fairly straightforward but is not without associated risks and side effects. From causing acne and other skin issues to limiting sperm production, overstimulating red blood cells leading to a risk of clotting, to enlarging the breasts and accelerating health issues such as sleep apnea or the growth of cancerous cells, there are quite a few risks to be aware of when you look into these hormone therapies. Instead, many doctors may choose to advocate more natural methods of boosting testosterone levels – especially if the drop is just a natural consequence of ageing rather than trauma-induced. Factors such as losing weight and increasing your muscle mass using resistance exercise can be an enormous help.
Using Supplements To Increase Testosterone Production
When levels of testosterone are low due to the natural ageing process – and usually not helped by unhealthy and sedentary modern lifestyles – your physical and mental health can seriously begin to suffer. So it’s understandable that if you aren’t recommended for testosterone therapy, you may want to try to boost your levels using supplements instead.
These can be highly effective when combined with a regular programme of weight bearing exercise and some modifications to diet as well. These supplements operate by increasing your levels of testosterone and sometimes related hormones as well, or some prevent testosterone already present in the body from being converted to oestrogen. There is a fair amount of evidence that some of these supplements can be effective in treating this hormonal imbalance and restoring normal life.
Many people try D-Aspartic Acid, a naturally occurring amino acid which helps to boost testosterone production. There is some evidence that this supplement works especially well for increasing the production of testosterone and it’s delivery around the body, and can be useful for improving sperm quality and production, so if you are experiencing impaired sexual function, it can be worth a try – but may not have much additional effect in those with normal testosterone levels.
Vitamin D is another supplement that could be worth a try – especially as a lot of adults unknowingly have a Vitamin D deficiency. You can take supplements in conjunction with eating foods rich in Vitamin D and increasing your sun exposure.
If you are interested in herbs, then Tribulus Terrestris has been used for many centuries to boost testosterone levels and enhance sex drive. Studies show that it can be measurably useful in those with low levels, but again does not appear to have any additional effect on people with healthy levels. Some people also have great results using Fenugreek capsules and ginger.
DHEA is another route – again, it’s a naturally occurring chemical in the body which plays a role in regulating both oestrogen and testosterone levels. There is an extensive body of great quality research behind this supplement, and taking one 100mg dose a day helps a lot of people. Results for any supplement can be mixed, and results are highly individual. This means that it may take a little trial and error to find supplements that work for you.
How Is Testosterone Being Discussed In Sports?
The role of testosterone in sports is quite complex. It’s fairly well known that testosterone supplements enhance athletic performance in both men and women. This works both through long-term anabolic actions and also it’s effects on behaviour, such as enhanced competitiveness and aggression. For this reason, many athletes, coaches and other individuals are interested in enhancing testosterone levels. The increased levels of muscle mass and enhanced energy are also contributing factors to great performance in sports. And yet testosterone is listed as a prohibited substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. But enhanced testosterone levels are never going to turn a couch potato into an elite athlete on their own. It’s not a magic bullet for athletic performance – but where ability, skill, condition and training are already present, it can have an effect. Strength on its own doesn’t always equate to enhanced performance, as there are lots of other factors relevant to great athletic performance. However, in some cases it can be helpful as part of an overall effort.
Life with reduced testosterone levels can present many challenges, and with so many wide-ranging effects it’s little wonder that people seek an answer, whether they are recommended for hormone therapy, try to boost their testosterone levels naturally through diet and exercise, or opt to try different supplements.
Testosterone, the Endocannabinoid System and CBD
As CBD supplements become more mainstream, there are many men turning to the cannabinoid for boosting testosterone levels. To understand how it works, we need to take a step back and look at how CBD interacts with the body.
The Endocannabinoid System
Within your body, there is a network of receptors called the endocannabinoid system that is ready and able to make use of the compounds contained in CBD. The system is made up primarily of two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). CB1 is found throughout your nervous system as well as connective tissue and organs, while CB2 receptors are related to your immune system.
The endocannabinoid system is vital for maintaining homeostasis in the body. It intersects with many of the systems in your body, with endocannabinoid systems in your organs, muscles, cells, hormonal glands, brain and more. The ability of phytocannabinoids to help bring balance within this system is the major reason that more and more people are turning to CBD to manage pain, reduce inflammation, promote muscle recovery and boost a sense of wellbeing.
The Connection Between Testosterone and CBD
Introducing CBD into your body releases cannabinoids that interact with your body’s cannabinoid receptors. Your endocannabinoid system plays a role in the production of testosterone because of the interaction between the system and your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is responsible for the creation of testosterone. In order to stimulate the production of testosterone, signals are sent from your brain and hypothalamus, activating your pituitary gland to active the luteinising hormone, which then leads to the production of testosterone from your Leydig cells.
In addition, within your sperm cells, your Leydig cells and your pituitary gland, there are many cannabinoid receptors, which have an impact on testosterone production.
CBD could play a role in balancing your testosterone levels as it acts as a regulator.
- Slow down the production of testosterone
- Limit the breakdown of testosterone in the liver
- Manage the level of serum testosterone in the blood
- Limit the production of prolactin and cortisol hormones, both neurotransmitters that can slow down the level of testosterone production because both are produced in your body as a natural stress response.
Using CBD to Boost Testosterone Levels
The physical stress of intense exercise can cause the release of cortisol which can impact your physical health over time as tissues break down, protein synthesis slows, and protein to glucose conversion becomes less efficient. Emotional stress can also trigger the release of cortisol in the body, triggering a “fight or flight” state.
Limits Physical and Emotional Stress
If you can limit the amount of stress in your body, it will naturally be able to produce more testosterone. CBD can help to promote a sense of relaxation physically and mentally and may assist with managing social and other anxiety conditions. It, therefore, is no surprise that there has been an uptake in CBD supplements for post-workout recovery as well as for heightened emotional stress. It also works as an anti-inflammatory, while reducing joint and muscle pain, allowing for faster recovery.
High in Fatty Acids
It is not only the cannabinoids in CBD that aid in testosterone production. CBD is also high in fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6, which is linked to increased levels of testosterone and improved testicular function.
Many experts recommend that the best way to boost testosterone levels naturally is to prioritise sleep quality and quantity (along with dietary and lifestyle changes) which is another primary benefit of CBD.
While there is still more research needed, most evidence points to the overall health-giving benefits of CBD including its ability to reduce stress, decrease inflammation and pain, and assist with sleep all of which are positively correlated with improved testosterone production.