There’s no question that testosterone can be a great help to the aging brain and the aging body. It can boost muscle strength, help brain power, and even decrease chronic pain.
But is it safe to use? For a full review of this subject, I recommend our Special Report Maximum Manhood. But some new studies have come out since we published the report.
A study of heart patients at Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals claims to show that using testosterone supplements increases the risk of heart problems in older men. But research at Boston University appears to show just the opposite:iIn the BU study, when men short of testosterone started to take supplements, their heart health improved.
What should you believe?
Well, first, let’s look at some of testosterone’s impressive benefits that researchers are still exploring.
Increasing Muscle Strength
Testosterone stimulates muscle. Research in Australia shows that taking oral supplements of testosterone may be able to prevent muscle loss and possibly promote muscle growth in both men and women. (Although testosterone is normally thought of as the male hormone, women have it at lower levels.)
According to these scientists, when you swallow testosterone supplements, the hormone is sent directly to the liver where it stimulates muscle growth and increases in muscle strength. They also say that this method of supplementation avoids the side effects that may occur when you take larger doses in an injection or via gels and patches placed on the skin.
“The novel aspect of this research is that only the liver gets tickled with testosterone. It is a new way of using an old hormone,” says researcher Ken Ho of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.iii
“This is a great advantage because it avoids the unpleasant behavioral effects of high doses of testosterone injected into the bloodstream and the masculinizing effects in women.”
“We saw that low dose testosterone, taken orally, had the same magnitude of effect on whole body protein metabolism as when it is injected in larger doses in men,” says researcher Vita Birzniece. “This is really hopeful, because if we can see the same effect on protein metabolism at this stage, we believe it will translate into the same increase in muscle mass that we see from testosterone delivered systemically, yet avoiding all the unpleasant side effects.”
Research on the effects of giving testosterone to older men has established that it can improve their intellectual abilities. More recent studies on postmenopausal women also show that it improves their word skills and memory.
The latest study, also carried out in Australia, was performed on 92 older women ages 55 to 65. Half of these women were told to apply testosterone gel daily for seven months.iv
The women who used testosterone enjoyed a significant improvement in verbal learning and memory. In addition, these women reported no major side effects from using the gel. Their testosterone levels increased with treatment but remained in the normal female range.
Although the scientists involved in the study want to perform further research, they emphasize that their experimental results are important: “There is no effective treatment to date to prevent memory decline in women, who are at higher risk of dementia than men,” says Susan Davis of Monash University in Melbourne.
Testosterone Improves Pain Tolerance
A study at the Harvard Medical School examined men with low testosterone caused by long term use of pain killers to deal with chronic pain. Opioid pain treatments, which include morphine, oxycodone, codeine and fentanyl, are among the most widely prescribed medications in the U.S. today. One of their unfortunate side effects is a drop in testosterone. The Harvard researchers found that the men they studied, on average, enjoyed better pain tolerance when they took testosterone.
“In this study, we attempted to determine whether testosterone replacement improves pain perception and tolerance, and quality of life in men with low testosterone levels due to narcotic analgesics,” says the study’s lead author Shehzad Basaria, M.D. “We found that testosterone administration in these men was associated with a greater reduction in several measures of pain sensitivity during laboratory pain testing compared with men who were on placebo.”ii
So what about the heart concerns linked to testosterone? While the study of heart patients at VA hospitals seemed to show a risk, some experts question the validity of the research results.v
“You need to be careful about the conclusion you draw from this study,” Dr. Warren Levy, a cardiologist and director of Virginia Heart, based in Virginia, told CNN. “The study is of men who had undergone cardiac catheterization – so that already selects out a higher-risk population. The conclusion may be that for men with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, testosterone therapy may increase risk slightly.”vi
And the VA study is contradicted by the study at Boston University. The BU study – which showed cardiovascular benefits for testosterone, not dangers — was performed on men who were clinically shown in blood tests to be low in testosterone. This group of men was not made up exclusively of heart patients. They are more representative of the broad population.
Of course, you should consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner before embarking on a testosterone program. You’ll have to in any case, if you choose pharmaceutical testosterone.
The research documented in our Special Report Maximum Manhood is overwhelming in its support for the benefits of keeping your testosterone at high levels. Plus the report unveils a wide range of natural ways to increase testosterone, and I suspect those have no risks at all, compared to patches and injections of the straight stuff, which is admittedly very powerful.