Adaptogens Increase Testosterone? How & Why Do They Help?
When most people first hear about adaptogens they are a little confused about what they do. While it seems intuitive enough that they might help the body to adapt, the pathways they use to do this are a little bit unclear.
In this article we are going to talk a little about what adaptogens are and how they can be used to enhance your results on the TestShock program or any other program you might be using. So, according to wikipedia adaptogens do the following:
“Adaptogens or adaptogenic substances, compounds, herbs or practices refer to the pharmacological concept whereby administration results in stabilization of physiological processes and promotion of homeostasis, for example, decreased cellular sensitivity to stress.”
This is not a bad place to start, but it is not entirely clear how these substances can improve your results from training. Basically what adaptogens are going to do are improve your endocrine systems response to the stress of training. Anything you do training wise is going to cause some type of stress on your body. Your body responds to this stress by increasing or decreasing levels of various hormones in the body.
One of the hormones released in response to stress that most people are familiar with is cortisol. Many adaptogenic substances are labeled as cortisol managers for their ability to adapt their functioning to the stress the body is experiencing. In studies, certain adaptogens have been shown to enhance the release of cortisol or suppress it based on the conditions the body is faced with.
Many of the most popular adaptogens have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It is impotant to note that not all adaptogens are equally effective. Many substances labeled as adaptogens have little to no clinical research backing up their effectiveness. For this reason, you cannot assume that a substance will be effective simply because it is labeled as an adaptogen. For example all of the following substances are listed for sale as adaptogens:
- American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), root
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), root
- Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng), root
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis), mushroom/mycelium
- Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula, C. tangshen), root
- Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), root/stem bark
- Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), root/stem
- Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum, O. gratissimum), herb
- Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), herb
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis), root
- Reishi (Ganoderma ludicum), mushroom/mycelium
- Rhaponticum (Rhaponticum carthamoides), root
- Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), root
- Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), fruit/seed
- Shilajit (Asphaltum bitumen), pitch 
The majority of the plants on the above list have only small amounts of clinical research to back up their effectiveness. In some cases their is literally no research showing that the substances are effective in mitigating the bodies negative responses to stress. Notable exceptions are Ashwagandha, Shilajit, Ginseng and Rhodiola.
Acording to Dr. Frank Lipman’s fantastic adaptogen resource at drfranklipman those three adaptogens do have the following wide rangin benefits:
“For thousands of years, Asian Ginseng has been one of the most valued (and expensive) medicinal plants in the world. It’s believed to affect the body by influencing metabolism within individual cells, and it has been studied extensively for its ability to help the body withstand stress. Western herbalists say that it restores and strengthens the body’s immune response, promotes longevity, and enhances the growth of normal cells. Research indicates that it promotes a sense of well-being and may protect against some kinds of cancer.” – drfranklipman
According to Examine Ginseng does the following:
- There are many ginsengs in the family, but this is commonly referred to as the “true ginseng”
- Great for immunity, anxiety, and cognition
- Some research to suggest aid in testosterone, libido, and training
- Daily use of 200-400mg
- Erectile Dysfunction therapeutic use of up to 3g
Does ashwagandha increase or boost testosterone?
“Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Like Asian ginseng, ashwagandha is used to help increase vitality, energy, endurance and stamina, promote longevity, and strengthen the immune system. Today, herbalists often recommend it for people with high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and impotence associated with anxiety or exhaustion. It enhances endocrine function, especially the thyroid and adrenals. Ayurvedic healers have long prescribed the herb to treat exhaustion brought on by both physical and mental strain.” – drfranklipman
According to Examine Ashwaganha does the following:
- Neuroprotection, anti cancer, anti anxiety, and great for virility
- A ton of research supporting it for its testosterone increasing, and cortisol decreasing properties
- Even works as an anti-anxiety compound in conjunction with alcohol
- Dosages: 300-500mg at a time, but you can go up to between 6,000-8,000mg a day safely – 8,000mg has been called “as effective as Valium” at inducing sleep in humans
“Rhodiola rosea acts like a hormone thermostat, especially as it pertains to cortisol, one of our main stress hormones. I believe that cortisol, which is secreted in sync with your circadian rhythms is usually, if not always, out of whack when you’re stressed out and exhausted. This means the cortisol level is either too high when it should be low or not high enough when we need more. Getting your cortisol back in rhythm when you’re compromised is crucial and Rhodiola literally helps balance the cortisol levels in your body, raising or lowering it as needed. That’s why this herb is particularly useful for treating my stressed out clients! What’s more, rhodiola has demonstrated a remarkable ability to support cellular energy metabolism. It positively affects brain function, depression, and heart health. In my experience, most patients who take rhodiola start feeling better within a few weeks to a month.” – drfranklipman
According to Examine Rhodiola Rosea does the following:
- Reduces burnout fatigue
- also neuroprotective
- some evidence to suggest it is helpful in overcoming binge eating as well
- 300-680mg effective dosages, above 700mg is not necessary
What’s the relationship between rhodiola rosea and testosterone?
Again, I mention specifics about these three as they are some of the most research backed adaptogens and ones I have been recommending and using for years. For example you can view Ali K’s resource AnabolicMen for articles on these three adaptogens and tips for how they can be used along with the TestShock program.
Needless to say, you cannot go wrong with those three compounds. One of the other ones that is less frequently talked about is Phosphatidylserine (PS). Dependng on who is marketing PS it is sold as an adaptogen or a nootropic. This is because it can have profound effects on cognitive functioning and subjective measures of mood.
Independent of it’s ability to affect mood, PS has the ability to help the body manage it’s secretion of cortisol. This is one of the reasons that PS is often marketed as a adaptogen or “cortisol manager” when sold along with other supplements. There are many reasons that I often recommend PS. A of the most common are that PS helps ransports molecules in and out of the bodies cells, it delivers signals to the interior of the cell membrane, it improves signaling between the cells and it protects the cell membranes from oxidative stress. As you can see these functions fill the role of both a cognitive enhancer and an adaptogen.
Finally, one of the other beneficial aspects of adaptogens is their ability to mitigate free radical damage in the body. Free radicals are created by the varios metabolic processes the body undergoes when exercising and expending energy. You can think of free radicals like little meteors that rip through perfectly good cells causing inflammation and damage in the body. Adaptogens work to mitigate the inflammation and damage caused by those free radicals which reduces cellular aging and damage.
To learn more about adaptogens in general I suggest you check out this article on recommended adaptogens or this article on naturally healing the endocrine system. Both do a good job of explaining some of the clinical research that has been done in support of some of the more commonly used adaptogenic compounds. If you want to shortcut all the research and take what I take on nearly daily basis, you can take a look at some of the research behind the worlds most powerful adaptogenic, natural cognitive enhancer Cortigon.
Hopefully you guys got some value out of this article. Please leave any questions you have in the comments section of the post and I will be sure to address it in an upcomming video or podcast. Alternatively you can check out the podcast section of TestShock where we host a running discussion on your most important questions.