Natural ways to boost testosterone
What are your natural treatment options if you suffer with symptoms of low testosterone and have low blood levels?
To begin to understand them and how they work, you must first understand what factors contribute to testosterone decline. The primary factors are the American diet, insulin resistance, high stress levels (cortisol demand), lack of exercise, and toxin exposure. Allow me to explain each of these in more detail.
The main dietary contributors to low testosterone are refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats/oils. Processed grains (bread, pasta, etc.) and refined sugars (sucrose, high fructose corn syrup or HFCS, etc.) cause insulin and cortisol to rise which steals from the production of testosterone in the testes and adrenal glands.
Unhealthy fats/oils that lower testosterone include animal sources (high in Arachidonic Acid which leads to high omega-6 fats), trans-fats (unnatural chemicals) and processed oils. What are processed oils? These are corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, linseed oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, soybean oil and canola oil which go through pressing, heating and the addition of industrial chemicals and toxic solvents.
What are healthy oils that build testosterone? These are the naturally-derived saturated fats from avocados, raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), coconut and coconut oil, butter from grass-fed organic milk, and olive oil. A 1984 study showed that a diet with less than 40 percent of energy as fat from mostly natural saturated sources leads to a decrease in testosterone levels.  Also I recommend oils that increase your omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) to omega-6 (inflammatory) ratio which include flaxseeds (and oil), walnut oil, fish oil, EPA/HFA fish oils supplements, and leafy green vegetables. Additionally, zinc deficiency  has been associated with low testosterone.
Chronic stress from emotional or physical causes increases cortisol production, thus shunting away from the production of testosterone. These include fear, anxiety, worry, depression or despair, insomnia  and chronic pain/infection/inflammation.
Certain types of strength training will increase testosterone levels. A 2011 study showed that wrestlers who performed a series of intense 6-second sprints significantly boosted testosterone (and lowered cortisol levels) over four weeks.  Research also indicates increased testosterone levels result from full-body resistance training two to three times per week.  This should be done with very short rest periods  –including training for your legs  –and you should max out with repetitions. Even better is to do forced repetitions  (max out on your own, then complete one to five more with assistance). However, long endurance sports (cycling, running) seem to lower testosterone levels over time. 
Certain toxic chemicals prevalent in our environment are considered anti-androgens (and lower testosterone effectiveness). They are hormone disruptors which are thought to block hormone receptor sites on tissue cells and also interfere with its metabolism. These are pesticides, food preservatives and additives, heavy metals (i.e. mercury), phthalates   (in personal care products, paints, etc.), bisphenol A  (plasticizers), and others. Medications can be anti-androgens too:
Natural libido boosters
There are herbs and nutrients that have been shown to boost testosterone naturally. Here is an important point about testosterone metabolism: approximately 7 percent of testosterone is metabolized to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. More importantly, DHT binds to the same testosterone cell receptors and does so much more strongly, making it about five times more potent than testosterone!
Fortunately, there are herbs you can consume that are known to blocks the enzyme 5-alpha reductase and therefore block DHT formation and increase testosterone. Fenugreek is one. Other natural 5-alpha reductase inhibitors  include phytosterols (e.g. Saw Palmetto), polyphenols (resveratrol, quercitin, flavonoids, red wine and dealcoholized red wine, dark chocolate, etc.), green tea, coconut oil and palm oil.
Approximately 0.3 percent of testosterone is converted into estradiol by the enzyme aromatase, which is increased by advancing age, obesity, hyperinsulinemia, steroid use (including testosterone) and alcohol. The prescription drug anastrozole (Arimidex) and others are used to block aromatase (and thus increase testosterone), and there are natural aromatase inhibitors you can buy at the health food store: flavones, resveratrol, chrysin, genistein and quercetin.
Herbs and nutrient supplements used specifically to boost libido, sexual function and well-being include Tribulus terrestris, D-Aspartic acid, Maca, Tongkat ali, Mucuna pruriens (increases dopamine which can improve libido), vitamin D3, Coleus forskohlii, Damiana, Horny goat weed, Ashwagandha, and others.
Testosterone replacement therapy is not only a prescription (in the USA) but also is a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) because of its street value. I prefer to prescribe compounded testosterone because it is considered more bioidentical than synthetic (drug company-patented) methyltestosterone. Although bioidentical hormones have proven much safer than synthetic hormones,   less has been proven about the advantages of bioidentical testosterone over synthetic.
There are a few different routes of administration for testosterone. It can be injected every two weeks; implanted as pellets every four months; taken by mouth daily (don’t advise use of methyltestosterone by mouth—it can damage your liver); put under the tongue (50 to 200 mg divided two to three times daily) or applied as a gel or patch. For all these methods you’ll need to follow your blood levels with re-testing. The best method in my opinion is the compounded cream applied to your skin (recommended 10 to 300 mg daily). I prefer to prescribe transdermal compounded testosterone because it is easy to apply once daily and I can increase the dose and concentration to reach clinical results plus follow levels with saliva testing. Take caution to avoid applying it to hairy areas (hair contains 5-alpha reductase) so it does not get converted to DHT. Also, do not apply it to fat areas (contain aromatase) so it does not get converted to estradiol.
In previous articles on testosterone I exposed the latest controversy over safety of testosterone replacement therapy in my article, “Testosterone supplementation: Looking at controversial studies.” I also reviewed the risks of having low testosterone and the many reasons you could benefit from replacement therapy if your levels are low (with varying opinions on what is considered low) in my article “Know the disease risks of low testosterone.” Next week I’ll discuss the clinical tests you’ll want, optimal levels, precautions, and final decision-making tips for testosterone replacement therapy.
To feeling good for health,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options