Do Testosterone Boosters Work?

September 14, 2023

Testosterone boosters are supplements typically sold online or over-the-counter and claim to be able to raise testosterone levels in the body and fight the signs and symptoms of low t. However, it turns out that there isn’t enough evidence to prove these supplements are effective. Some supplements may have a modest impact on testosterone levels as shown in some studies, but their results can be limited and temporary and these claims have been debated and there is conflicting literature regarding the effectiveness of these supplements as well. These boosters are usually supplements that contain vitamins and minerals such as zinc, magnesium and vitamin D, which are all essential in the formation of testosterone in otherwise healthy men yet there are many studies that have been conducting disproving their ability to actually raise testosterone.

    It seems to be more a situation that Testosterone Boosters can help optimize the body’s natural production yet are incapable of increasing testosterone levels above baseline. It's important to note that individual responses can differ, and these supplements may not work for everyone. It’s also important to note that these over-the-counter products sold online and in stores like GNC have not been evaluated by the FDA and there are no studies that show the efficacy of such products or their claims to increase testosterone levels. The FDA doesn’t regulate OTC supplements, so they aren’t subjected to the same level of testing and scrutiny that medications made in pharmacies do. We’ll discuss some of the clinical trials and actual studies conducted testing these so called “T Boosters” here.

First, lets discuss some of the signs and symptoms of low Testosterone which may include the following:

  • Testicular atrophy.
  • decreased facial and body hair.
  • gynecomastia (an increase in breast tissue or “man-boobs”)
  • difficulty gaining muscle mass or strength.
  • Fatigue.
  • weight gain.
  • lower sperm count.
  • decreased libido.
  • mood swings.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • hot flashes.

    If a man is experiencing these symptoms and may believe that its due to Low T, it makes sense that they would address the situation. With all the marketing that goes into these products, it’s easy to see how they may decide to try some of these options. The question though, is “Do testosterone boosters work?” Unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that they do. Some extracts have shown mixed results, like Fenugreek for example. This herbal supplement comes from the Trigonella foenum-graecum plant has shown in some studies to have a mild increase in T levels and symptoms but is inconclusive with others showing no significant statistical improvement when compared with a placebo group.  “An 8-week double-blind placebo-controlled randomized controlled trial (RCT) included 88 participants: 44 participants were supplemented with a patented extract of T. foenum-graecum and Lespedeza cuneata and 44 participants were supplemented with placebo.”  “However, the differences were significant when comparing with baseline and there were no statistically significant differences in any parameter when comparing between groups”

  • Park HJ, Lee KS, Lee EK, et al. Efficacy and safety of a mixed extract of Trigonella Foenum-Graecum seed and Lespedeza Cuneata in the treatment of testosterone deficiency syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. World J Mens Health 2018;36(3):230; doi: 10.5534/wjmh.170004 Crossref, Medline

    Zinc is another supplement associated with testosterone boosters. Where it was discovered in the 1960’s that low zinc may play a role in decreased T levels, there is no evidence to suggest that it will increase T levels. The amount of Zinc in some of these boosters may actually increase the risk of medical complications as they far exceed the recommended daily dose of zinc of 11mgs as per FDA guidelines. Higher intake of zinc has been shown to cause “anemia, neutropenia, and altered immune functions.”  This further illustrates the need to seek the advice from a licensed medical professional when dealing with a system as complex and the endocrine system.

  • Irani M, Sadeghi R, Amirian M, et al. The effect of folate and folate plus zinc supplementation on endocrine parameters and sperm characteristics in sub-fertile men: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Urol J 2017;14(5):4069–4078; doi: 10.22037/uj.v14i5.3772 Crossref, Medline

In a study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Volume 16, Issue 2, February 2019, Pages 203-212 the conclusion was that there was no evidence of any T booster being effective in treating sub optimal/Low Testosterone levels. The following is their conclusion:

“T-Boosters are easily available online. Our investigation revealed that limited human studies have evaluated T-Boosters, resulting in no definitive findings of efficacy. In the absence of additional human studies, patients should be cautioned before considering T-Boosters, given the availability of highly effective therapies approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Balasubramanian A, Thirumavalavan N, Srivatsav A, et al. Testosterone Imposters: An Analysis of Popular Online Testosterone Boosting Supplements. J Sex Med 2019;16:203–212.

In another study titled “Testosterone Boosting’ Supplements Composition and Claims Are not Supported by the Academic Literature”

Chase G. Clemesha,1 Hatim Thaker,

corresponding author

2 and Mary K. Samplaski2

They found that “Ninety percent of "T booster" supplements claimed to boost T. However, only 24.8% of these had data to support these claims. A total of 10.1% contained components with data suggesting a negative effect on T. Many had supra-therapeutic doses of vitamins and minerals, occasionally over the UL. Patients should be informed that "T booster" supplements may not have ingredients to support their claims.” So it would appear that Testosterone boosters have no significant impact on testosterone levels.

Testosterone Boosters vs. TRT

There are 2 main differences between testosterone boosters and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). One is that supplements which claim to boost testosterone are available over the counter and typically contain vitamins and herbal supplements, whereas Testosterone Replacement Therapy is a physician monitored/prescribed medical treatment using pharmaceutical grade prescription medication such as testosterone cypionate.

An experienced and licensed physician may prescribe testosterone to combat the signs and symptoms of Low T to help improve libido, treat ED, and improve energy, strength, improve sleep, and mood etc... however needs to be carefully considered and administered by a competent doctor, knowledgeable in hormone replacement therapy. Testosterone-boosters can also have negative side effects, and since the men taking them are not under a doctor’s care, they may not have the same ability to mitigate the negative effects of these supplements since they are not undergoing FDA-regulated and -approved treatment.  Anyone taking testosterone boosting supplements should seek the advice of their doctor or a licensed healthcare professional and inform your physician of any supplements that you are taking to make sure that they won’t interact with any prescription or nonprescription medications you may be taking. Some ways to increase natural testosterone production is exercise and weight training, maintaining a healthy body weight, increased sleep as well as avoid alcohol and tobacco products.

If you have concerns about your testosterone levels, it's best to consult with an experienced healthcare provider for personalized advice and potential treatments. This will include getting a thorough blood panel done and having a consultation with your doctor to review the labwork and see exactly where your hormone levels are. Additionally, lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and sleep play a significant role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels and need to be factored in when discussing the effectiveness of T boosters.

If you are interested in exploring TRT as a treatment option and would like to speak with an experienced, licensed professional physician to discuss options regarding Low T and the signs/symptoms associated with it, please reach out to our office or learn more by clicking this link to read about HCG or TRT.


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Blood Work Request Form

This subsequent lab panel is necessary for males undergoing Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) through NovaGenix Health and Wellness. It allows physicians to assess the patient's response to prescribed medications, covering sex hormone levels, thyroid function, adrenal health, hematocrit, and liver and kidney function. The panel includes tests such as:

  • Complete Blood Count
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
  • Testosterone (Free and Total)
  • Estradiol Sensitive
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
  • Prostate Specific Antigen

Each test serves a specific purpose in monitoring overall health and treatment effectiveness. When required, Dr Mackey may require LH and FSH (Luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone) SHBG (Sex hormone binding globulin) or any other tests which may be important for your health and optimizing your hormones.

The Comprehensive Hormone and Wellness Panel for Women offers a foundational assessment of sex hormones, thyroid function, adrenal health, metabolic activity, and overall well-being. This panel serves as a diagnostic tool for identifying testosterone and estrogen deficiencies, assessing health risks, and detecting potential thyroid issues before considering hormone replacement therapy. Additionally, it includes insights into hematocrit (red blood cell volume), as well as liver and kidney function. The panel encompasses various tests such as:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Complete Metabolic Panel
  • Testosterone (free and total)
  • Estradiol
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
  • Progesterone

When indicated, Dr. Mackey may require additional tests such as Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), and IGF-1 and Cortisol.

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