These herbs will prepare you for your next competition or game.
When it comes to athletic performance, more and more athletes and trainers understand how important a role nutrition plays. From the time I was fifteen until I was twenty-five, I was a full time competitive athlete (Taekwondo & basketball) and worked out two to three times a day. The ideology I subscribed to for many years was that to become stronger and faster I had to work longer and harder. After two knee surgeries, I learned the importance of rehabilitative and corrective exercises. Eventually I learned how vital quality nutrition was to my body’s ability to recover, rejuvenate, and perform optimally. This is what led me into studying the art of raw food nutrition, detoxification, and vegetarian diets.
Through the years I became aware of anabolic and catabolic rates in the body. This is the building and breakdown phases the body naturally goes through. I discovered our diet has a major influence on our body’s ability to produce androgen, or growth, hormones and without these essential ingredients, the body can over-secrete catabolic hormones, like cortisol and estrogen, which break the body down over time. In order to mitigate the catabolic effect that can happen to many vegan, vegetarian, and even omnivorous athletes in the initial or long term phases of their training, including phytoandrogen rich plants is highly recommended.
I have detailed four of the most potent and user-tested androgen herbs for men from my book The Life Food Peak Performance System.
This may be one of the most common and underutilized plant medicines in our modern world. Every spring the male catkins that rest on the end of the pine’s branches release their pollen. We’ve all seen this, but very few, including myself for a long time, ever make the connection that this is one of nature’s premier adaptogenic substances. The overall benefits of cell-wall cracked pine pollen range from increased immune-function, liver regeneration, and anti-inflammation to being a nutrient dense superfood. The source of pine pollen’s usability is in its androgenic properties. It contains significant sterols (plant-steroids) that help balance estrogen/androgen levels by significantly increasing testosterone production. Men and women can both benefit from consistent or periodic use.
Tribulus (tribulus terrestris)
Tribulus is a thorny caltrop such as those you might find along a jogging path. It has been used throughout history by various herbal systems, specifically the Chinese and Ayurvedia, most commonly for treatment of the kidneys, headaches, sexual dysfunction, and increasing fertility. The bodybuilding community has claimed tribulus increases testosterone production and improves physical performance.
The primary active mechanism is two specific steroidal saponins which appear to stimulate androgen receptors in the brain. The pituitary gland secretes higher levels of luteinizing hormone which signals receptors to produce active testosterone. Tribulus, like other phytoandrogens, does not simply force your body to produce testosterone, they naturally open the chemical pathways for specific hormones to signal as the body requires based on activity levels, stress levels, diet, and supplementation.
Many studies indicate no increased androgen production from supplemental tribulus. I believe this is because the subjects were given too low a dosage (as is common in studies) or estrogen conversion was not considered.
Ginseng in the Chinese herbal system is considered one of the primary Qi enhancing herbs. It helps increase endurance, energy, and mental activity, is cancer-preventive, and immune-protective. It is the world’s most famous herb to date and highly cherished in East Asian cultures. In recent years, research indicates that ginseng can help natural testosterone production.
Ginseng has been marketed as nature’s Viagra. It increases nitric oxide production, thus increasing blood flow to the sex organs. It appears, based on a study conducted at the University of Rome in La Sapienza, Italy, that panax ginseng significantly increases a full spectrum of androgens in men. The study was conducted on 66 patients who all had improvements in their testosterone levels and semen production. Of all the herbs listed, ginseng can be taken the most consistently, five to six days on and one to two days off.
This is the cherished root vegetable of the Andes Mountains in Peru. The lore surrounding maca has always been associated with extended endurance, increased libido, and improved chances of conceiving a child. Stories have been passed down from generations about men who were previously infertile and after taking copious amounts of maca became fathers. Research shows that maca root does increase sperm count. A study with nine men ages 24 to 44 showed that all areas of sperm count and volume had increased after a maca treatment. There are no significant studies that show if maca has a direct effect on androgen production, but is suspected to have an accumulation effect when taken regularly over time.
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