Hormone Replacement Therapy: 3 Uncommon Natural HRT Alternatives that Work
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Mon 24 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
When a man's testosterone levels have declined, a doctor usually prescribes hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT most commonly includes an application of exogenous testosterone, which is administered via gel, cream, pellets, or injection. These are the same hormones that your body cannot produce enough naturally.
Is HRT effective? Surely, depending on the dosage it reliably increases serum testosterone levels.
But the thing is that testosterone is produced in a negative feedback-loop, and when the blood levels of the hormone go high, the brain lowers its pulsatile release of luteinizing hormone (LH) as response, which reduces the natural production inside testicles.
This is essentially the problem of HRT and steroids (which are basically the same thing, the latter just without a prescription), using this exogenous band-aid solution, suppresses the natural ability of the body to produce the hormone...
...And soon you are completely at mercy of the exogenous supply. Stop it and your testosterone levels will become extremely low, due to the fact that the body doesn't just magically bounce back to natural production.
Another problem of HRT and steroids is the fact that prolonged suppression of LH (caused by exogenous steroid use), damages the testicular leydig cells, which makes it more and more likely that you will be rubbing the gel to your body for the rest of your living days.
This is fine if you're willing to do it (and pay for it), but just know that it IS NOT the only solution to declined testosterone. There are ways to naturally stimulate testosterone synthesis, and in this article I'm going to show you three that might be surprising to some.
Let's get at it:
#3. Red Light Therapy
Sounds crazy? You're damn right it does.
But the thing is that near-infrared red light at certain wavelengths, has been extensively studied in human applications.
Primarily this is done for thyroid gland, as many researchers have noticed that pointing a strong red light source to the thyroid gland of patients with hypothyroidism, resulted in complete normalization of the thyroid hormone levels.
Light therapy isn't some new mumbo-jumbo. It has been effectively used ever since 1910, with research speeding up in the 60's (after invention of led light).
A 2013 Brazilian study had 43 patients with clinical hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), to test the effect of red light, they enrolled into red light therapy twice a week, with the wavelength 830nm beamed close to their thyroid area.
After ten sessions, the subjects were told to discontinue their use of thyroid medication (thyroxine) and for the next 9 months they were monitored to see if they could now go without exogenous tyhroid medication. Surpisingly, 48% of the subjects never had to get back to using the thyroxine. The light therapy had restarted the activity of the gland, and this was accompanied by increased thyroid volume.
Several other studies from Russia and Ukraine have also confirmed that people with sluggish thyroids can often discontinue or lower the dose of their thyroid medication drastically after red light therapy.
Why would red light do this?
The light is able to penetrate the skin, and has been previously shown to increase the cellular energy production (ATP) and mitochondrial respiration (Cox) of the target tissue.
So how could this help with regaining the ability to produce high levels of testosterone naturally?
Theoretically, by pointing the red light to testicular area. Which would increase the activity and energy production of the leydig cells and enzymes necessary for steroidogenesis.
There has already been some animal and human research into this, all suggesting that it's highly effective in normalizing testosterone production.
#2. Strategic Supplementation
There is no natural supplement that would be equivalent to exogenous testosterone injections.
When a "T-booster" is claimed to do that, run the other way.
However, it's possible to dramatically increase testosterone levels by using a handful of key compounds at right dosages.
Most commonly these would be micronutrient supplements (vitamins and minerals) to fix deficiencies that are a common culprit in reduced testosterone production (surely you can, and should optimize your nutrition for these too, but more about that later below).
Key micronutrients to supplement with for testosterone production include (click here for studies);
- vitamin A (retinol, not caroteinoids)
- vitamin D3 (preferably liquid)
- vitamin K2
- vitamin E (alpha tocopherol)
- B-complex (especially niacinamide).
- sodium (eat more salt)
Now aside from micronutrients, there are some other compounds that have been found to increase testosterone in the ballpark of 10-50%...
- Mucuna pruriens (L-Dopa)
As you might guess, supplementation alone isn't enough to compete with HRT, but when you combine it with some other natural T boosting methods, it will certainly help increase the levels.
#1. Changing your Nutrition
The state of the modern nutrition is absolutely horrific. Especially if we look at things from the way of hormone production.
It's almost as if the Western diet is designed to reduce testosterone levels. It really is that bad.
And what people describe as healthy eating (eg. low carb, low saturated fat...) they usually end up messing their hormones even more.
According to the evidence (as presented in this article), here's how you should eat in order to raise testosterone levels;
- Consume enough calories. A low calorie diet won't supply your body with enough energy to upkeep its hormone synthesis.
- Consume roughly 20-30% of your total calories from protein, as high protein diets are detrimental for T production but so are low.
- Consume roughly 40-60% of your daily calories from carbs to supply metabolic energy for thyroid and testosterone synthesis.
- Consume the remaining 20-40% of your calories from dietary fat, but mostly from saturated and monounsaturated fats.
- Minimize your intake of unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which have shown time after time to lower T and thyroid activity
- Get protein from mostly dairy products and meat. Plant based proteins have shown to be inferior for T production.
- Carbs should come mainly from low gluten sources (eg everything else but grains). Favor fruit, sugar and root tubers.
- Make sure your diet is dense in the micronutrients mentioned above, good food for this are: liver, egg yolks, dairy, and fruits.
Some of the steps above might sound crazy, so I encourage you to read the research before making quick judgements about them. Everything above is based on solid scientific research instead of opinions (which are far too common in the nutritional scene).