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PharmaFreak Test Freak Review

Test Freak is PharmaFreak’s test-booster which, despite the long complicated ingredient names on the label, is actually a pretty simple formula…

PharmaFreak Test Freak

 

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FENUGREEK

Trigonella Foenum Greacum (also known as Fenugreek) is an herbal extract that has gained traction in the supplement industry as a libido enhancer. However, a 2009 study, published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, found that males who supplemented with Fenugreek extract showed no increase in anabolic hormones (i.e. testosterone).

This study was supported by Indus Biotech, a company that manufactures and markets Fenugreek as an aromatase inhibitor. Furthermore, a 2011 double-blind, placebo controlled study found that 6 weeks of supplementation with a Fenugreek derived supplement (Testofen) led to scoring 25% higher on a libido test (sexual arousal and orgasm in particular) than the placebo group, but with no increase in Testosterone levels, meaning that the mechanism of action was not an increase in testosterone.

So if these studies have concluded that Fenugreek does not increase testosterone, then how has this supplement gained traction? Well, one 2010 study, published in “The International Journal of Sports Nutrition”, found that supplementation with 500 mg of fenugreek extract (Testofen) resulted in a significant increase in free-testosterone levels. This poses the question: What changed between the 2009 study and the 2010 study?

Ultimately, the results are mixed, with two studies indicating no increase in Testosterone and one indicating increased Testosterone. More research is needed to clear up this discrepancy, but for now it appears Fenugreek is only reliable as a libido enhancer, not a testosterone booster.

TRIBULUS

In several studies, Tribulus has demonstrated aphrodisiac properties that were originally thought to be the result of increased testosterone. This is mainly due to Tribulus being shown to increase levels of testosterone in certain animal studies. A 2005 study, published in the “Journal of Ethnopharamcology” found that 200mg daily (60% saponin content) had no effect on testosterone in healthy men. These results were replicated in a 2007 study in which 450mg of Tribulus extract daily failed to influence testosterone levels in male athletes. Even a 2012 study, this time testing the effects of 6g of Tribulus extract on infertile men, found a less than significant trend towards increased testosterone. Ultimately, the popularity of Tribulus as a testosterone booster seems unwarranted given than it has unreliably increased testosterone in rodents and has never been shown to significantly increase testosterone in humans, healthy or not. Tribulus may increase libido and sexual well-being, creating the illusion of increased testosterone, but the science is very clear: Tribulus does not increase testosterone in healthy humans.

ZMA

Zinc is required for the conversion of cholesterol (and other lipids) into sex hormones, as well as the existence of androgen receptors, as evidenced in a 1996 study, in which rats fed a zinc deficient diet experienced a decrease in androgen receptor sites and an increase in estrogen receptor sites. So while Zinc deficiency can certainly result in low testosterone, there is no evidence indicating that supplemental Zinc can increase Testosterone above normal. In fact, there is ample evidence to the contrary. A 2009 study, published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, concluded that zinc (ZMA) supplementation had no influence on serum testosterone levels in non-zinc deficient men. A similar failure to influence testosterone via zinc supplementation was seen in a 2011 study, the subjects of which were trained cyclists who consumed sufficient dietary zinc. However, a 2005 study, the subjects of which were wrestlers, demonstrated that zinc supplementation was able to attenuate exercise-induced declines in testosterone levels. The evidence is quite clear: Zinc supplementation will not increase testosterone above baseline in healthy, non-zinc deficient humans, but can be effective for maintaining consistent testosterone levels during exercise.

SAW PALMETTO

Saw Palmetto is a widely used supplement for treating BPH (discussed above) as well as overall prostate health. One cause of BPH is thought to be excess dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a byproduct of testosterone itself. Testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone by the enzyme known as 5-alpha-reductase. While Saw Palmetto does appear to act as an 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor in animal models, human studies directly testing its effects on Testosterone are non-existent. While the mechanism is somewhat plausible, there just isn’t enough evidence to draw conclusions.

STINGING NETTLE ROOT EXTRACT

Stinging Nettle, like most herbal compounds that find their way into supplements, has a long history of use, dating back many centuries. Currently, stinging nettle is used to treat inflammation resulting in joint and muscle pain, as well as to treat urinary symptoms of prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia). It is claimed (mostly by supplement companies) that Stinging Nettle may indirectly boost testosterone by lowering sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG is a protein that binds to the sex hormones (androgen/estrogen), thus rendering them biologically inactive. The term “free testosterone” refers to testosterone that is not bound to SHBG, and is therefore free to enter cells. No studies have actually confirmed increased testosterone levels as a result of supplementation with SN. A 2012 study, published in “Andrologia”, found that Stinging Nettle Extract increased serum testosterone in rats via 5-alpha-reductase inhibition. However, one human study which sought to determine if Stinging Nettle was an effective treatment for BPH also measured testosterone levels and found no such increase. While the mechanism of action exists by which Stinging Nettle could theoretically increase Testosterone, human studies are lacking and the only one we have to go by produced no such results.

RESVERATROL

Resveratrol is a compound found in Red Wine which has gained a lot of traction in the supplement industry primarily because of claims that it can increase lifespan. Needless to say, it would be difficult to substantiate these claims in humans (the studies would be very long), so for now we don’t buy it. In the context of the Test Freak formula, Resveratrol is alleged to serve a different purpose. PharmaFreak claims that Resveratrol “Supports Testosterone-To-Estrogen Conversion Control”. In a 2006 in vitro study found that Resveratrol effectively reduced the conversion of Testosterone to Estrogen in breast cancer cells. However, no human studies have been conducted to replicate these findings so at this time there is simply not enough to evidence to conclude Resveratrol is an effective aromatase inhibitor.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Test Freak contains all the usual alleged “testosterone boosters” (Tribulus, Zinc, Fenugreek, etc.) and unfortunately, none of these ingredients have ever been proven to reliably increase testosterone levels in humans. The combination of these ingredients may increase libido and give off the illusion of increased testosterone.

Still not sure which test-booster is right for you?  Check out our Best Testosterone Boosters List!

References

  1. Wang, Yun, et al. “The red wine polyphenol resveratrol displays bilevel inhibition on aromatase in breast cancer cells.” Toxicological Sciences 92.1 (2006): 71-77.
  2. Neychev, Vladimir Kostadinov, and Vanyo Ivano Mitev. “The aphrodisiac herb< i> Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 101.1 (2005): 319-323.
  3. Safarinejad, Mohammad Reza. “Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.” Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy 5.4 (2005): 1-11.
  4. Rogerson, Shane, et al. “The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 21.2 (2007): 348-353.
  5. Sellandi, Thirunavukkarasu M., Anup B. Thakar, and Madhav Singh Baghel. “Clinical study of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in Oligozoospermia: A double blind study.” Ayu 33.3 (2012): 356.
  6. Nahata, A., and V. K. Dixit. “Ameliorative effects of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on testosterone‐induced prostatic hyperplasia in rats.” Andrologia 44.s1 (2012): 396-409.
  7. Wilborn C, et al. Effects of a purported aromatase and 5α-reductase inhibitor on hormone profiles in college-age men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2010)
  8. Bushey, Brandon, et al. “Fenugreek Extract Supplementation Has No effect on the Hormonal Profile of Resitance-Trained Males.” International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings. Vol. 2. No. 1. 2009.
  9. Steels E, Rao A, Vitetta L. Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phytother Res. (2011)
  10. Koehler, K., et al. “Serum testosterone and urinary excretion of steroid hormone metabolites after administration of a high-dose zinc supplement.” European journal of clinical nutrition 63.1 (2009): 65-70.
  11. Neek, Leila Shafiei, Abas Ali Gaeini, and Siroos Choobineh. “Effect of zinc and selenium supplementation on serum testosterone and plasma lactate in cyclist after an exhaustive exercise bout.” Biological trace element research 144.1-3 (2011): 454-462.
  12. Kilic, Mehmet, et al. “The effect of exhaustion exercise on thyroid hormones and testosterone levels of elite athletes receiving oral zinc.” Neuro endocrinology letters 27.1-2 (2005): 247-252.
  13. Om AS, Chung KW. Dietary zinc deficiency alters 5 alpha-reduction and aromatization of testosterone and androgen and estrogen receptors in rat liver. J Nutr. (1996)
  14. Iehlé C, et al. Human prostatic steroid 5 alpha-reductase isoforms–a comparative study of selective inhibitors. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (1995)
  15. YAMADA, Shizuo. “Isolation and pharmacological characterization of fatty acids from saw palmetto extract.” Analytical Sciences 25.553 (2009).
  16. Suzuki, Mayumi, et al. “Pharmacological effects of saw palmetto extract in the lower urinary tract.” Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 30.3 (2009): 271-281.
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