Increasing testosterone level is one of the most often enumerated goals of supplementation. It is so common that it is increasingly difficult to find agents that would really positively modulate the level of this hormone and not only work like placebo. We may certainly consider using prohormones, i.e. simple steroid cycles, but it is not a completely safe and legal solution. Therefore, are there any natural preparations that may help to increase testosterone level?
What is testosterone?
Testosterone (and more precisely 17β-Hydroxy-4-androsten-3-one) is the main steroid male sex hormone. It plays a key role in shaping primarily (proper homeostasis of the reproductive system) and secondary male sex features. In order to intensify the expression of secondary sex features, the level of testosterone is increased. These features are mainly the intensity of muscle and bone tissue growth and general well-being and health. The mechanism of its activity is agonism in relation to androgen receptors.
Is my testosterone level low?
The problem with diagnosing low testosterone level is the fact that there are very few really peculiar symptoms. Apart from obvious deterioration of well-being, problems with weight loss (excessive fat storage in the area of the belly and chest), weak physical ability (these are very general symptoms and hard to be attributed to a concrete source). One concrete symptom that may indicate low testosterone level are problems with sexual features (mainly problems with erection and lower libido). When observing such symptoms, it is worth performing routine tests of sex hormone levels.
Does low testosterone level in tests mean problems?
Not exactly. The range of normal testosterone level is quite wide (from 160 to 1130 ng/dL!), therefore its normal or lower level depends on genetic predispositions. For example, a person with naturally low testosterone, with the level of 345 ng/dL will feel totally well, while the person with naturally high testosterone level will feel bad with such a value. However, it is assumed that the level below 350 ng/dL is the reason to take care of testosterone.
The question arises, how can we counteract this?
Eurycoma Longifolia Jack (also called Tongkat Ali or Longjack)
Used in traditional Asian medicine. A relatively new supplementation solution, demonstrating interesting possibilities of increasing testosterone level (thanks to the content of ingredients, influencing the increase the activity of CYP17 protein, metabolizing pregnenolone to dehydroepiandrosterone, which later may be metabolized to testosterone), especially noticeable in low testosterone level. It also demonstrates the ability to decrease the level of estrogen (it is related to the high content of compounds called quassinoids). Interestingly, this effect was so considerable that its effectiveness was compared to a common antiestrogen drug - tamoxifen.
It is also worth mentioning that Longjack has interventional effect on problems, which may develop in case of low testosterone level. It may be used as aphrodisiac, improving libido, the state of male sex features and general well-being of men[2,3,4].
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is one of the most universal supplements and it also finds application in normalizing male sex hormones. It is especially important in excessive exposure to stress.
Ashwagandha demonstrated large potential in increasing testosterone level, both in its deficiency due to stress-related factors as well as in its normal level, in combination with training. It is also initially indicated that it may decrease the level of estrogens.
The below figures present the graphs related to the aforementioned studies.
On the left, regarding the study , the levels of testosterone were compared, where the study groups consisted of men with normospermia (Normo), smoking men with normospermia (Normo-cig) and men with normospermia exposed to heavy stress (Normo-psy), before the treatment (Pre) and after the treatment (Post). All groups experienced the increase of testosterone level.
On the right, regarding the study . There was a training control group (Placebo) and the studied group (Ashwagandha). As can be seen, the growth of testosterone in the treatment group was considerable, where in case of placebo there was no increase.
Also called Indian nettle. During a 12-week study, constant growth of testosterone level was proven, eventually reaching 16%, where in the group using placebo, the drop was proven.
This mechanism is attributed to mimetic mechanisms to the luteinizing hormone by increasing cAMP. A positive side effect is the stimulation of steroidogenesis, which consequently may increase testosterone level.
Ginger is an ingredient known for using it in the wide scope in the kitchen and in immunity support. However, it turns our that studies indicating the increase of testosterone level are very promising!
Research shows clear improvement of testosterone (most often dependent on the dose) and remarkable improvement of the reproductive system. This effect was especially visible in the studies in case of lower testosterone level and related hormones (FSH and LH).
An unexpected candidate of supplementation increasing testosterone level. It turns our that it causes considerable improvement of the state of the levels of androgen hormones in men, including normalizing testosterone level in case of intervention supplementation in its low levels. [10, 11] Additionally, it is an important modulator of aromatase activity, responsible for the conversion of testosterone to estrogen (by stimulating metabolism of calcium in the organism).
The above dependencies also entail, among others, better well-being, especially in men in the spring-summer period. In case of sunny weather, the synthesis of vitamin D is naturally higher. For the same reason, supplementation with vitamin D is especially recommended in the fall-winter season.
Another supplementation ingredient that is very often skipped. It demonstrates the highest effectiveness as intervention supplementation, normalizing testosterone level (in the studies, deficiencies resulted from improper diet)  and in long-lasting application.  In the studies on long-lasting supplementation (60 days) it also demonstrated the increased amount of FSH hormone, essential, among others, for the proper functioning of testosterone. Natural HCG.
Problems with testosterone level may be the result of zinc deficiency. Its content in the organism is positively correlated with the level of testosterone in the bloodstream [18, 19]. Its deficiency, in turn, causes disorders of precursor conversions to proper sex hormones and decreased amount of androgen receptors. 
Along with the increase of testosterone level, slightly higher than recommended doses are advised (15 mg a day) .
Zinc is also a highly potential inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase converting testosterone to DHT, the excess of which may cause blocking HPTA axis, baldness, prostate hypertrophy - very often encountered in steroid cycles .
Proper level of testosterone also regulates the level of estrogens (its efficiency intensifies the conversion of testosterone to estrogens).
It is also worth mentioning that the mechanisms of activity of zinc overlap with the ones, thanks to which magnesium works, therefore it is a good idea to introduce the whole ZMA formula to supplementation (the combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 increasing the effectiveness of the remaining ingredients ) in order to avoid hormonal problems related to deficiency of these two important mineral ingredients.
Its effect is based on the high content of L-DOPA - direct precursor of dopamine) therefore, while planning supplementation, it is worth paying attention to standardization. The higher it is, the more active substance in the extract).
L-DOPA, by increasing the level of dopamine has suppressive influence on unbeneficial influence of prolactin on testosterone level and libido. The activity of this mechanism was presented in the studies with positive practical effect on the increase of testosterone level and improvement of male sex parameters .
For regular supplementation we definitely recommend ZMA set and vitamin D. Deficiency of minerals, especially in regular physical activity are common and may have very negative effect on the hormonal health. Vitamin D, in turn, will work great in the current fall-winter season, when its deficiencies are present in almost everybody due to the lack of sunny weather.
In case of direct boost of testosterone, when we are sure that we do not feel deficiencies of the above ingredients, it is worth trying other ingredients enumerated on the list. Each of them is based on a different mechanism, but by means of the complexity and variety of the organisms, one mechanism will work great in some people, while in others it will not work at all. However, if we do not want to try certain ingredients and look for the preparation that it best for us, it would be a good idea to choose a preparation composed of a few from the above described ingredients.
Proper testosterone level is essential for the functioning of men. Therefore, we should pay special attention to its level, especially if we are middle-aged, which is the key period that requires paying more attention to male condition. However, each period of taking care of masculinity is a proper period, therefore it is worth regularly testing the level of hormones and compensate potential fluctuations with proper supplementation.