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what is testosterone

Testosterone is an essential hormone for various biological and vital processes such as the development and maintenance of secondary male characteristics, reproduction, and muscle and bone health. 

The hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis is responsible for synthesizing and regulating this hormone.

Its best-known functions are to increase libido and stimulate protein synthesis within the muscular system (anabolic function). 

It is well-known and scientifically proven that testosterone promotes increased muscle mass, muscle strength, power, and endurance in a dependent dose. In addition, it is also responsible for bone mass and density. 

As we age, testosterone can be reduced. Its maximum peak is at approximately 20 years of age. Chronic stress, lack of sleep, weight loss, low energy availability, a very low-fat diet, and certain illnesses can lower levels.

The manipulation of testosterone concentrations and the enhancement of athletic performance are well known. Although the use of this hormone is illegal in competitive sports since the number of side effects that harm health is well known. 

At an acute level, it can cause breathing problems, allergic reactions, and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. At a chronic level, it can cause difficulty urinating, mood swings (including suicidal thoughts), breast enlargement, tiredness, nausea, and acne, among others.

For this reason, the use of natural legal substances that can increase testosterone without producing these mentioned side effects continues to be investigated. Next, we will inform you about the best-known testosterone precursors and the scientific evidence they have. 

What are testosterone precursors?

Testosterone precursors or also called pro-testosterone or T-boosters are ingredients derived mainly from plants that can naturally increase testosterone levels and achieve an anabolic effect, improving libido or sexual health in general.

In the case of erectile dysfunction or estrogen deficiency, it is done with hormone replacement treatment to solve this testosterone deficiency (known as hypogonadism) prescribed by a doctor. 

However, alternative herbal options or herbal extracts have also been studied as a potential treatment.

It is worth mentioning that the research continues since the studies currently presented in humans are not enough to provide definitive evidence of the efficacy of these ingredients, but in animals, it does seem to have positive results. 

Only 30% have shown some efficacy in humans. However, we will comment on the results of the ingredients that have been most studied

Most common ingredients of T-boosters

Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris is a plant-derived ingredient found in almost all testosterone precursor supplements. It comes from India and its dose varies from 100 to 1000mg. It is composed of saponins, flavonoids, glucosides, alkaloids, and tannins. 

The saponins in particular are steroidal compounds and the main ones of Tribulus Terrestris are those of spirostane and furostane. Animal studies have shown an increase in serum testosterone, but not so far in humans.

Two systematic reviews report improvements in sexual function in women and some studies in sports performance, although others did not report improvements.  

It has also been observed that it may help in recovery after training, reducing muscle damage.

Eurycoma longifolia or malarial ginseng (tongkat ali)

Eurycoma longifolia is a potential adaptogen investigated to improve male sexual health (increases testosterone, improves male infertility, libido, and erectile dysfunction). 

The latest research is reporting the positive effects of raising testosterone from doses between 200 and 400mg per day. At the moment it is believed that it is due to a bioactive component (neuropeptide) of the extract of this root of the Tongkat Ali tree.

Aspartate or D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)

D-aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid found in reproductive tissues and plays a role in hormonal regulation by increasing levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and consequently testosterone.

It has been observed that increasing DAA levels improve testosterone production. It is usually ingested around 3g daily and it is not recommended to take more than 6g daily as side effects have been reported.

Best protein for muscle growth

mucuna pruriens

Mucuna pruriens seeds have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of multiple disorders. Due to its L-DOPA content, its use in Parkinson's disease is usually considered. Regarding sexual dysfunction, its effect in humans has begun to be studied and the results seem promising since it seems to increase the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and reduce the levels of adrenaline and norepinephrine. In two studies in humans, starting at a dose of 5g per day, it has been observed that it causes an increase in testosterone levels and an improvement in the quality and volume of semen.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

Fenugreek or also called methi is attributed to hormone regulation effects, being involved in sexual health, lactation, and glucose and cholesterol control, among others. It is usually sold in doses of 600 to 1000mg. It seems that its glycosides have androgenic and anabolic effects, raising testosterone levels.


Zinc's role in testosterone centers on the synthesis of luteinizing hormone (LH) in Leydig cells in the testes and on the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone with quite strong androgenic action. 

The association of zinc deficiency with hypogonadism has been described since 1960 and it was shown in that same study that zinc supplementation could reverse the effects associated with hypogonadism. 

In humans, there is not enough evidence that there is an increase in testosterone with zinc supplementation, although in some studies with low testosterone levels it is observed that it helps to increase it. Doses of 3mg/kg of weight/day are usually used.


Magnesium is a micronutrient present in a large number of metabolic reactions. It is known that it can decrease cortisol levels and therefore muscle catabolism. 

Testosterone levels can be influenced by oxidative stress and magnesium can control oxidative stress (a decrease in this nutrient causes an increase in free radicals and an increase in systemic inflammation).


It has been observed in some studies that supplementation with zinc and magnesium in ZMA format can improve the effects at the hormonal level, reduce catabolism and therefore improve the gain of strength and muscle mass, raising testosterone and IGF-1 levels. (growth factor).

On the other hand, it seems interesting when it comes to recovery, and getting a good night's rest. Doses of 400mg of magnesium with 20-30mg of zinc and 10mg of B6 are usually used, taking it before bed. 


L-arginine is a very common conditionally essential amino acid among men's health supplements. It is usually given between 100mg to 3000mg. It is known to increase nitric oxide (NO) levels by stimulating NO synthase and therefore stimulates greater delivery of nutrients and hormones. 

However, the results remain heterogeneous and more research is needed on this supplement, since some studies report an improvement in erectile function, another showed an increase in growth hormone levels, but some others did not. observed differences from the ingestion of l-arginine.

Maca root extract (Lepidium meyenii)

Maca is a root native to the Andes Mountains that is found in many of the supplements of this type. There are doses from 100 to 2000mg. It has been reported that it could improve libido, erections, and male and female sexuality, among others.

In a study, it has been observed that it increases sexual behavior in mice and no toxic side effects are observed. However, the evidence remains limited.

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng or red ginseng, originally from China or Korea, is another of the most common ingredients in supplements for men's sexual health due to its saponin content. It is usually found in doses of 10 to 150mg.

Red ginseng increases nitric oxide (NO) production and blood flow through the stimulation of NO synthase. It has improvements, especially in the libido. In women, benefits in sexual health have been reported.

Improvements in physical performance have been reported in animals. In rats, running performance increased by 132%.

Horny goat weed (epimedium)

Horny goat weed is an herb belonging to the genus Epimedium. In several studies it has been found that it has low levels of icariin, a flavonoid that has an inhibitory effect on phosphodiesterase 5, increasing nitric oxide levels. In some studies in rodents, it has been observed that it improves erectile function. Doses of between 500 to 1500mg are usually used.*


Other substances that have been investigated are Ashwagandha, of which we have a post about it if you are interested, and also another post about ecdysterone. There is also saw palmetto, boron, l-citrulline, Coleus forskohlii and even vitamin D. 

Regarding the latter, it seems to be related since it participates in reproductive tissues such as the prostate, testicles, sperm, and ovaries. Vitamin D receptors are found on Leydig cells within the testes, where testosterone synthesis from cholesterol occurs, suggesting an important role. 

Men with low vitamin D levels have been found to have lower testosterone levels, but more research is lacking at this time.

Changes in testosterone from habits

It is known that it is possible to modify testosterone levels with lifestyle such as strength exercise, so it is important not to do only cardio. Also, sleep patterns are important. 

This is because the production of this hormone is regulated with a circadian rhythm and its levels begin to rise during the night, in the first sleep cycle and reach their peak in the early hours of the morning. 

It has been observed that if you fall asleep before midnight, the production of this hormone improves and its levels decrease by 10-15% if there is sleep deprivation and restriction.

side effects of pro-testosterone

Pro-testosterone can have side effects in people with any pathology. They are not recommended in people at high risk of prostate or breast cancer and patients with unstable cardiovascular disease. Therefore, we always recommend consulting a health professional and your doctor in case you want to take these supplements.

We also recommend looking at the ingredients and getting information from a professional on these issues so that you do not end up buying adulterated supplements as some may contain illegal substances such as steroids.