T-boosters: can we trust the sellers’ claims and product reviews?
Although testosterone therapy may benefit men with hypogonadism, erectile dysfunction caused by low hormones, and many other health conditions, issues regarding its potential risks and side effects such as prostate cancer, cardiovascular diseases are still of great concern and remain controversial. Almost 35% of hypogonadal men refuse testosterone therapy due to the fear of prostate cancer risk (Gooren LJ et al. 2007). And here, alternative medicinal herbs with a long history of traditional use turned out to be in wide demand. These remedies, unlike pure hormones, seem to exert their effect in a much more mild and tolerable mode.
But can we trust the sellers’ claims about the so-called T-boosters?
No, you cannot trust, even if they’ve got 99% of 5 stars and the most convincing reviews on Amazon.com. Today, when the online seller does not directly contact you and has so many tools to influence your decision and does not take any responsibility for false claims, it is easy to get a pig in a poke. I’ll show you why.
A recent study (Alexander W. Pastuszak, 2019) supported by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases evaluated the most highly rated and frequently reviewed T-boosters on Amazon.com. The work aimed to reveal the underlying evidence for the efficacy of T-boosters and test the trustfulness of the product reviews; are they from real customers or just a form of digital marketing?
Researchers chose five of the most popular on Amazon testosterone boosting supplements and analyzed their ingredients for T-boosting evidence, and the customers’ reviews for truthfulness.
The top 5 testosterone supplements on Amazon on July 22, 2018, were:
- Prime Labs Manufactured by Prime Labs
- Alpha Boost Manufactured by Invictus Labs
- Extra Strength Manufactured by Dr. Martin’s Nutrition
- Iron Brothers Manufactured by Iron Brothers Supplements
- Pro-T Manufactured by Prometheus Wellness LLC
The chosen T-boosters had an average ± SD(standard deviation) of 2,761 ± 5,112 reviews and an average rating of 4.6 ± 0.25 stars.
The researchers noticed that Alpha Boost and Extra Strength as well as Pro-T and Iron Brothers had the same ingredients in the same quantities despite being sold under different brand names.
PubMed, the most comprehensive database of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, was searched for the 10 most common ingredients of the chosen T-boosters. A total of 19 unique ingredients were identified across the group of supplements. The table below shows the number of human studies and the effect of the supplement ingredients on testosterone levels.
Effect for T
Effect for T
effect for T
|Tongkat Ali Extract||2||0.0||1|
|Horny Goat Weed||0.0||0.0||0.0|
|Saw Palmetto Extract||2||0.0||6|
|Maca Root Powder||0.0||1||3|
|Ashwagandha Root Extract||1||0.0||0.0|
So, at least half of the ingredients included in the most popular supplements “T-boosters” doesn’t have any testosterone boosting activity or had not been tested in human studies by the time of the article publication.
The good news is that Boron and Tongkat ali extract, the ingredients really shown in randomized placebo-controlled studies to increase testosterone levels in men, were present in all 5 supplements.
Unfortunately, this is not the case at least with some T -boosters available on the market today. If the supplement including from 5 to 10 ingredients contains only 1 or 2 substances that possess T-boosting activity, I would question its efficacy. Why? Because with an increase in the number of ingredients, the proportion of the T-booster decreases accordingly, and its real amount in the supplement is often below the recommended effective dose.
To evaluate T-booster potency of the supplements, the product reviews were categorized and analyzed before and after filtration of untrustworthy comments using ReviewMeta.com, a proprietary Amazon software.
You will be surprised, but more than 66 percent of reviews were determined as a scam. So, make your conclusions, can you rely on such reviews before making a purchase?.
Even more. Filtration through ReviewMeta.com had a profound effect on the customers’ evaluations of T-boosters’ efficacy:
- 91 percent decrease in users reporting an increase in libido
- 59 percent decrease in reports of increased energy
- 93 percent decrease in reports of improved strength/endurance
- 60 percent decrease in reports of improved erections
- 67 percent decrease in reports of improved sleep
- 89 percent decrease in reports of improved sports ability
I guess, it is here that fake reviews pop up, which have been written by the sellers on behalf of the customers or by the customers themselves, who are “lucky” to receive free giveaways from companies.
So don’t be fooled into trusting the sellers’ honesty. Do your little research before making a purchase, it is about your health. This way you protect yourself from wasting money, time, and possible frustration.
How to know that T-booster is effective?
- First of all, you have to decide whether you are looking for a testosterone-booster or a supplement to treat erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, often people equalize these terms. Erectile dysfunction may be caused not only by low testosterone, rather be of psychological, circulatory, or muscle conditions, which have nothing to do with your hormonal status.
- If you have multiple symptoms of low androgens and are looking for an effective T-booster, check the supplement’s ingredients for their T-boosting activity. Make a Google search for the keywords: “PubMed+ingredient’s name+testosterone” or check the web sites, where such a search has been done.
- Check the concentrations of the main T-boosting ingredients in the supplement. Let’s say if the recommended effective daily dose of the ingredient is in the range of 300-600 mg but its content in the supplement is 200 mg, most likely you will get a weak T-boosting effect.
- Different T-boosters have varying sites of action (See below). So the more sites of testosterone production and maintenance the ingredients cover the better.
- Unfortunately, you cannot control or check the quality of the ingredients. Now you will know what you are buying at least partially.
How testosterone converts into other hormones?
As it is shown in the scheme, in the body, about 0.3-0.4 % of testosterone is converted into estradiol. The enzyme aromatase catalysis this reaction. The activity of aromatase is higher in adipose cells, so no wonder that obese men may often have effeminate forms. Estrogen plays an important role in bone, hair, skin, and brain health in men.
Enzyme 5 alpha-reductase converts about 10% of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT has a masculine effect on men, increases their sexual desire but also related to the production of excess skin oil and acne.
About 2 percent of the testosterone in the blood is active or so-called “free testosterone”. It is not bound to any proteins that would prevent it from interacting with its receptor. Optimal free testosterone levels for aging men are in the range of 20 to 25 pg/mL Though, some doctors consider the levels of 15 pg/mL normal.
About 40 % of the body’s testosterone is attached to albumin. As the body’s need for testosterone rises the hormone releases from the connection and replenishes a fraction of “free testosterone”. Albumen attached testosterone plus free testosterone are referred to as “bioavailable testosterone”.
In young men, about 60% of testosterone is bound to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). This fraction of testosterone cannot be used by the body and may vary depending on age and health status. With age or if a chronic health condition is present, SHBG binds more and more testosterone, lowering free testosterone and its benefits.
Total testosterone is the sum of bioavailable testosterone and testosterone bound to SHBG. Measuring just the total testosterone in the blood may not provide the whole picture and let you know how much “active” or usable testosterone you have. When looking at total testosterone levels, one should strive for a range of 700-900 ng/dL, through conventional reference ranges 264 to 916 ng/dl are considered sufficient.
Hereafter, you can find reviews of evidence-backed T-boosters, which include their effective concentrations too. So you can compare the ingredients of the T-booster you are going to buy with the list. This list may expand in the future.
A list of dubious testosterone boosters you can find here.
- Gooren LJ, Behre HM, Saad F, Frank A, Schwerdt S. Diagnosing and treating testosterone deficiency in different parts of the world. Results from global market research. Aging Male 2007;10:173-81.
- Alexander W. Pastuszak. Testosterone Imposters: An Analysis of Popular Online Testosterone Boosting Supplements. J Sex Med. 2019 Feb; 16(2): 203–212.