Perhaps no other area in the sports supplement marketplace has been subject to as much debate and conflicting information as the T-boosting category. The fact is, for too much hype and too little science has put consumers at the mercy of unreliable information put out by overly aggressive product marketers. For this reason, the ProSource research team has undertaken great efforts to gain the keenest possible understanding of the prevailing science and its practical applications, including commissioning independent research studies along with extensive painstaking review of available published data on the subject from all over the world. The latter part of this effort has been spearheaded by steroid expert and supplement researcher from the U.K., Brian Batcheldor.
Batcheldor who is widely regarded in the hardcore bodybuilding world as one of the foremost authorities on the science of androgens and anabolics was chosen for this project due to the unique first-hand perspective he's gained from working with some of the world's highest level powerlifters and bodybuilders. His conclusions are not only based on cutting-edge science but also on real world case studies of actual athletes. The following article represents an in-depth and uncensored look into the world of testosterone enhancement strategies.
While adding new muscle mass may require a cocktail of several endogenous hormones, there can be no doubt that when it comes to the acquisition of superhuman strength and enviable virility, testosterone is numero uno! In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any individual who couldn't benefit from an extra helping of "Big T".
So what makes testosterone enhancement the number one choice for building the perfect body? It's generally recognized that testosterone builds muscle through two main actions:
1. It promotes increased net protein balance (anabolism), and;
2. It decreases muscle breakdown (catabolism).
However, this is putting it very simply, because while many of the mechanisms behind these effects have been clearly mapped, others still remain open to conjecture, dispute or at least further investigation.
For example, we know that testosterone's muscle sparing effects can, in part, be explained by its ability to target a specific catabolic pathway (ATP-Ubiquitin-proteasome) and to promote the re-utilization of amino acids.
We also know that increased testosterone leads to increased tissue release of highly anabolic IGF-1, along with improved responsiveness to its effects and increased concentration of IGF-1 receptors in muscle tissue. But in older athletes, additional testosterone can not only increase endogenous growth hormone output, it can also actually inhibit the negative feedback mechanism of subsequent
IGF-1 levels on growth hormone secretion. Also of interest is the fact that while most attribute the decreased body fat experienced when testosterone levels are increased to its influence on GH, a more direct effect on adipocytes (fat cells) has been identified. It seems that testosterone can positively influence the differentiation of stem cells, actually steering them away from becoming adipocytes.
One of the "in terms" in sports nutrition at the moment is "Myostatin Inhibitor", which refers to any product intended to quash this growth limiting protein. Well, while the direct anti-catabolic properties of testosterone have always largely been attributed to its interaction with gluccocorticoid receptors, recent studies confirm that by increasing testosterone levels you will most definitely inhibit myostatin as well!
So now that you've been given the basics on testosterone, the next step is determining the shortest route to fulfilling your lean muscular potential by jacking your testosterone levels, which is achieved by employing only the most scientifically proven methods possible!
Currently, when it comes to sports supplement protocols that meet the criteria, one specific technology has created a stir within the industry and it so happens to be found exclusively in the AndroTest brand. Clinical data from a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial designed to evaluate the testosterone-boosting effectiveness of AndroTest in healthy adult men revealed that AndroTest actually is the real deal. Both it and the amped up version, AndroTest Extreme have proven to more than live up to the hype.
And based on the following study results, it could not be clearer just how valuable they are to greatly increasing testosterone levels for any athlete looking to do so in the most effective manner possible.The study, conducted between a medical college and hospital, chose subjects aged 35 to 55 years. All were free from any medical condition that may have impacted their natural testosterone levels. A total of 31 subjects completed the study, 16 received AndroTest and 15 a placebo. The results speak for themselves; when compared to the placebo, the AndroTest subjects demonstrated the following:
- Significant increases in total testosterone levels up to 275% over baseline!
- Significant increases in free testosterone levels up to 218% over baseline!
- Testosterone levels became significantly elevated as early as 2 weeks into the study.
- Testosterone levels remained elevated throughout study duration.
In simple terms, this translates to an incredible increase in testosterone of almost 300%, an extraordinary figure for a non-pharmaceutical product! Equally impressive is the fact that these levels were sustained-a vital factor in promoting a continuous anabolic environment. It is important to point out that these numbers represent increases over baseline as opposed to placebo. This is an extremely important distinction because it puts into perspective just how remarkable these results are. In fact, in all my years researching these products, I've never seen any natural T-boosting product produce such extraordinary results.
In contrast, the trick that I see other marketers play when they are promoting a T-boosting product is that they make performance claims which are based on increases compared to placebo instead of to baseline. Such numbers are typically meaningless because upon closer examination they frequently boil down to results that are completely negligible. Here is an example: if a study showed an increase of say 3% for what we'll call product "x" and an increase of only .05% for placebo, an unscrupulous marketer could make the misleading claim of 600% increase. Such a claim would obviously be completely worthless.
At the same time, the other very relevant highlight of the AndroTest study is that the results were sustained throughout the study duration. Again, in contrast, most all competitive T-boosters I've researched not only produced very small increases but even worse is that those increases were extremely short lasting and transient. Such results are essentially rendered meaningless but unfortunately that has not stopped marketers from spinning them to look like something impressive. No adverse effects were recorded and all blood pathology results remained within normal levels. This was a truly groundbreaking study; no other sports supplement has yielded such a significant ability to enhance endogenous (natural) testosterone production. So it is no surprise then that this technological breakthrough could propel a product to such a dominant position in the market. AndroTest has been a top-selling product in its category since shortly after its inception nearly three years ago and continues to grow in result-based popularity.
The highly potent formula behind the success of AndroTest is based primarily on two components; proprietary ultra bio-active extracts of the herbs Tribulus terrestris and Eurycoma longifolia. The key word here is proprietary, to understand the relevance of this, a brief lesson in photochemistry is necessary.
Almost every culture has its own traditional product guaranteed to put "hair on your chest" and "lead in your pencil," many of these have been "adopted" by our industry and touted as the next great T-Booster. But the aphrodisiac property of an indigenous herb (muira puama, catuaba, etc) may have nothing to do with testosterone. It's also quite possible that these herbs could contain constituents that actually have a negative impact on testosterone or fertility; many herbs are known to have this effect.
Conversely, some herbs that have known fertility enhancing properties have no impact on testosterone; Maca, commonly employed in pro-testosterone formulas, is a prime example here.6 The wealth of scientific expertise now employed within the herbal industry has been highly instrumental in its recent progression, particularly in the application of high-tech analytical methodology to the process of standardization. Where once the standard simply meant the ratio of raw material to the finished extract (e.g. a 10:1 extract), today it refers to a percentage of one or more phytochemical "fingerprints" derived from the original raw material. Breakthroughs in extraction technology, coupled with reliable analytical methodology, now mean that scientists are able to verify the properties of a particular herb, identify the active component responsible and produce a finished extract with a consistent quantity of that component from batch to batch.
Standardization is now an essential marker for potency, but only if the correct form of analytical methodology has been used. It is also vital that the plant is standardized for the right component, as many herbs have numerous medicinal uses with different components responsible for each. The take-home message here is that if you're not using a high-grade standardized extract, then you're probably using inactive junk!
The exciting fact about these "fingerprint" components, be they saponins, alkaloids, tannins, phenols, flavonoids or whatever, is that their properties are often attributable to the ability to impact various biological systems in the human body. Several of these compounds have an established ability to exert hormone-like effects. For your objective, i.e., testosterone enhancement, the system we need to influence is the endocrine system, or to be more specific, the HPT axis. There are several known ways in which this can be achieved with phytochemistry, including:
1. Direct stimulation of the Leydig cells in the testes.
2. Stimulation of the pituitary to produce more Luteinizing Hormone (LH).
3. Reduction of estradiol levels, either through competitive receptor binding (anti-estrogens) or decreased production of the aromatase enzyme.
4. Competitive binding of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) to produce more biologically active ("free") testosterone.
5. Increase production of the enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of testosterone.
6. Direct stimulation of the androgen receptor.
Various indirect approaches could involve influencing the production of other hormones capable of impacting T levels. For example, reducing prolactin can increase testosterone, as can stimulating oxytocin or noradrenaline. The good news is that there are numerous herbs out there for which one or even several of the above properties have been identified, Tribulus and Eurycoma are certainly among the most potent.
Tribulus terrestris: Although Tribulus terrestris has enjoyed a reputation as a major player in the testosterone stakes for quite some time now, only since the inception of AndroTest has it achieved its full potential. There's a good reason for this and it has to do with other products cutting corners for profit while entirely missing the mark!
Years ago, the original Tribulus product (to remain unnamed), to which most of the research relates, was claimed to be standardized for 20% protodioscin-a furastanol saponin indicated to be the active compound. This, of course, turned out to be total nonsense. Several Chinese raw material suppliers even produced material that had been spiked with Dioscorea (yam) extract-a medicinal plant known to have a higher protodioscin content than Tribulus. Ironically, on analyzing the original Bulgarian product, Japanese scientists found the yield of total saponins (not just protodioscin) to be around just 4%!7 However, when researchers noted that neither Dioscorea nor any of the other herbs that have a high protodioscin yield exhibit the same pro-testosterone/fertility-enhancing properties as Tribulus, the exact role of protodioscin on its own was brought into question.
The big breakthrough came when a large German biochemical company that specialized in phytochemical extraction techniques developed a commercial interest in Tribulus, particularly in the medical application of the anti-tumor activity of protodioscin. They employed ChromaDex (Santa Ana, CA), the market leader in the development of botanical reference standards, to put together standards for all the major components in Tribulus.8 The result-a custom extract was produced from Bulgarian material that not only yielded a consistently higher protodioscin content, but also high levels of other (previously undetermined) saponins, including pseudoprotodioscin, prototribestin (tribulosaponin A) and tribulosaponin B. The
co-existence of these saponins would prove to be exclusive to both this extract and the original Bulgarian material. This would tend to indicate that protodioscin works synergistically with the other saponins. Further research indicated that the active principle(s) seem to work at the level of the hypothalamus-strongly stimulating the pituitary to release more LH. Additionally, increases in free testosterone also point to an interaction with SHBG. Thanks to these remarkable findings and an unprecedented multi-extraction process of Bulgarian Tribulus, the world's purest form, a standardized protodioscin material was created that is 20 to 40 times more potent than any other forms.
The bottom line here is that this kind of Tribulus extract, with its protodioscin content of between 40-48% and a staggering 80% total saponins, will deliver where all other material fails-this material is one of the major components that makes AndroTest (and AndroTest Extreme) the first and only legitimate natural T-booster with clinically proven efficacy! I've researched both pharmaceutical androgens and non-pharmaceutical T-boosters for nearly 30 years and can say that I've never seen a product that even comes close to the potency and power of this remarkable product. This single component of AndroTest truly puts it in a category all by itself in today's market. I can not emphasize enough how important this development has been for the science of natural testosterone enhancement.
Eurycoma longifolia: After introducing this herb to the supplement industry a few years ago, I am still surprised to see how few of you have yet heard of Tongkat Ali-a traditional Malaysian aphrodisiac prepared from the herb Eurycoma longifolia. But trust me, this obscure Asian plant is still an important and highly relevant breakthrough in the quest for optimal testosterone enhancement! Known as Pasak Bumi in Indonesia; in Vietnam, it is called Cay Ba Bihn, meaning "plant that cures 101 diseases." However, although it may have many uses in various Asian cultures, the common denominator among them all is the reverence shown for this herb as a "bestower of superhuman virility."
Around seven years ago, I accessed some serious research being conducted by the East Asian medical world, where this herb was being considered as potential treatment for infertility and impotence. Since then, I've been working with Eurycoma nonstop and can tell you that there's nothing else out there, other than the protodioscin-rich Tribulus, that even comes close to this herb as a serious T booster. It's rock solid reputation is heavily backed up by numerous unrelated, unbiased scientific studies-both in vitro and in vivo, in multiple animal species and in humans.
These studies include:
- Effects on energy production systems
- Sexual behavior and mating studies
- Hormone studies
- Studies on anabolic properties
- IVF studies
- Sperm characteristic studies
- Toxicity studies
What exactly have these studies shown? Many things, but just to wet your appetite, take a look at its established impact on the testosterone levels of animals:
Animal % increased
- Mice 479%
- Rat 380%
- Rabbit 320%
As if this isn't impressive enough, in human testicular tissue the same extract yielded a 440% increase!9 Taking a look at what this translates to in the real world, human infertility studies have also revealed a suitably impressive testosterone response. So far, its potent pro-testosterone properties have been attributed to three different mechanisms, including:
1. Increased substrate enzymes for the biosynthesis of testosterone
2. Increased cAMP
3. Decreased SHBG
In another in vivo study, this time using trained subjects, specific anabolic properties were identified.10 But to fully exploit Eurycoma's awesome potential, you need to first overcome an inherent problem. Basically, the presence of bitter components, known as quassinoids, have given Eurycoma its other scientifically proven activities (e.g. antimalarial, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory), but comprise a large portion of the raw herb and thus reduce the concentration of its active T-boosting components without proper standardization.
However, the proprietary extract employed alongside Tribulus in the AndroTest formula is the very same LJ-100 extract employed in all the clinical studies. This is a premium-grade extract standardized for 28% bioactive glycopeptides content, to maximize its anabolic activity. Emerging research continues to support the fact that this specific form of Eurycoma is a proven highly effective tool for significantly increasing total and free testosterone levels in humans.
Fenugreek extract: This compound was based on quite humble beginnings-its sexual performance properties. However, further research in the area of testosterone enhancement has allowed one particular extract to really gain momentum. This material, known as Testofen, by itself has demonstrated a nearly 100% increase in free testosterone levels in a clinical study involving 60 humans, along with the ability to impact catabolism and improve fat free mass. It has also demonstrated very impressive results for boosting testosterone, libido and muscle mass in more recent studies.
Fenugreek is known to contain many bioactive steroidal and furostanol saponins, including Protodioscin, Pseudo Protodioscin, Gracillin, Protogracillin, Diosgenin and Dioscin, while many others are yet to be identified. One unique group of saponin glycosides, labeled as "Fenusides", have become the "fingerprint" by which Testofen is standardized (50%). No one can say for sure whether or not these are responsible for the powerful T-boosting properties of this proprietary extract, although it seems likely that there is some kind of synergism between the components, much like we see with Tribulus.
Speaking of synergism, both Testofen and LJ-100 seem to work through additional pathways beyond those of tribulus making for a profound and powerful overall net effect. This perhaps sheds some light on why the results of the clinical study on AndroTest were so remarkably greater than what has been observed with other test-boosting products.
Here's the great news that every bodybuilder should be delighted to hear: AndroTest Extreme is a powerful stand alone product that contains 600 mg of Testofen in each daily dosage-exactly the same protocol employed in the human clinical study. And perhaps the best part of this powerful T-boosting triple stack is that since each of its components is of a botanical origin and work through natural bioactive pathways, it does not cause the down regulation of endogenous hormone levels like pharmaceuticals or even some hormonal based over-the-counter products.
Other Compounds on the Radar
Increased Androgen Receptor levels and stimulation has been demonstrated with
supplementation of L-carnitine-l-tartrate, at a daily dosage of around 2 grams.11 It has also been shown to limit post-exercise muscle damage and improve recovery.12 This compound is the basis for AndroCept (BioQuest), a cutting-edge product designed to increase testosterone uptake in muscle, thus potentially leading to an improved anabolic response to training. AndroCept is the perfect addition to any T-boosting arsenal, ideally cycled with AndroTest. Stimulation of Leydig cell steroidogenesis occurs mainly through a cAMP mediated mechanism, which includes adenylate cyclase activation. Forskolin, isolated from the plant Coleus forskholii, is a popular ingredient in cutting-edge thermogenic formulas and has a well-established ability to stimulate adenylate cyclase and increase cyclic AMP, making it a compound to watch in the future.
Several plant species are believed to have constituents that may stimulate LH release. One of these is Avena sativa. Japanese scientists have actually identified a substance in this plant that has potent LH-releasing activity, although it is structurally different from LH-RH present in the hypothalamus.13 Unfortunately, most plant constituents indicated to have anti-estrogenic properties have yet to get past the in vitro stage, while the few that have show poor oral bioavailability. The main classes of these phytoestrogens are isoflavanoids, phytoalexins and coumestans. One phytoalexin in particular, Resveratrol, found in red wine and Japanese Knotwood, found in red wine and grapes, has demonstrated a powerful ability to impart the protective effects of estrogen on bone loss and cardiovascular disease in vivo.14 Calcium D-glucarate, a compound found in numerous fruits and vegetables has been shown to affect estrogen by increasing levels of D-Glucaro-lactone, thereby increasing the metabolism and excretion of estadiol.15
Epimedium, commonly incorporated as a T-booster, has yet to get off the ground in my books, as it hasn't been shown to have any impact on testosterone and may actually elevate cortisol.16
Prohormones: A Word of Warning
Do not confuse the use of prohormones with testosterone enhancement, if anything, they are the absolute nemesis to this objective, stemming T production through negative feedback in the sensitive HPTA-Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Testicular
Axis. Even the word "prohormone" is a misnomer. Many scheduled anabolic steroids are precursors to more potent compounds. The constant exploitation of legal loopholes has resulted in pregnane steroids, scheduled drugs modified by the addition of a methyl group or their metabolites, analogs of research anti-aromatase drugs and even of antiandrogens being passed off as sports supplements. Ironically, many of these compounds have been touted as protestosterone formulas, yet nothing could be further from the truth. At best, one or two of these compounds may show some potential as an anti-aromatase, but only if further research was conducted, including toxicology studies. At worst, you will likely be taking a highly toxic steroid that could make you sick and shut down T production for a very long time. Recently, importation of a new "improved" version of Massdrol into the UK resulted in around 20 hospitalizations and a complete recall of the whole batch.
As a steroid researcher, author, and lecturer, I have no problem with traditional anabolics when used properly and responsibly but I do have major issues with the current generation of grey market prohormones that are plaguing our sport. The risks are unknown and they are completely counterproductive to long-term bodybuilding goals. Natural or illicit: that choice is yours alone. However, there should be no confusion over the best tools for the job.
The results are in. The clinical work that has long eluded the testosterone-boosting category has been responsibly performed. Based on all the compelling scientific evidence cited in this article and as a longtime, passionate researcher in this field of study, I can confirm without equivocation that for building solid, lean muscle mass, reducing body fat and enhancing virility, AndroTest and AndroTest Extreme represent the most potent and effective testosterone-boosting formulas ever made available to the bodybuilding industry.
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