Is taking nettle root for testosterone effective? Or is this just another un-backed claim that is going to be a waste of your money?
Lets find out…
Nettle is often called "stinging nettle" because, well, it stings. It belongs to the Urticaceae family which has other members that sting as well. As far as its history goes, it has a very long history of medicinal use, dating back to at least the 10th century where it is one of the nine plants in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm.
But nowadays it has many different uses, one of them being a way to increase testosterone levels, which of course is the focus of this article.
Every part of the nettle plant is consumed for one reason or another... the roots, leaves, and stem. It is commonly sold in capsules and also sold as dried leaves which can easily be made into tea.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that is produced in both men and women. Yes, testosterone is also produced in women, just not as much as it is in men.
This hormone is most well-known for regulating sexual behavior and for helping increase muscle mass. Professional bodybuilders and other athletes that are required to pack on muscle often inject themselves with steroids that boost testosterone levels.
However, besides that this hormone is important for a number of other reasons, such as that it affects the mood and boosts energy.
But unfortunately levels drop as we age. This is just part of the natural aging process. And the side effects are not pretty… less energy, less ability to perform in a number of ways, etc.
Nettle's Affect on Testosterone
It Doesn't Look Good for humans...
If you are a member of the human species looking to boost your testosterone with nettle root, unfortunately things aren't looking too good.
A study published in the Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy of 558 patients focused on prostate health, but also measured testosterone in the process. The study lasted for 6 months in which patients took 120 mg of nettle 3 times per day. While the nettle supplementation did show positive effects on prostate health, which was the focus of the study, testosterone levels went "unchanged".
And another study published in Urologiia (Russian Journal) showed the same type of results. In this study patients took 120 mg 2 times a day for 48 weeks and this resulted in no effect on testosterone levels.
In the one study people supplemented nettle for 6 months and in the other study they supplemented it for 48 weeks… With no effect shown on testosterone in either… Not good.
However, there is still hope.
If you're a rat there might be some hope...
Most people reading this probably are humans and not rats, but I can't be completely certain. If you are a rat, you might be in luck.
Nettle seems to prevent the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in rats. The reason this is important is because it means an increase in free testosterone that is moving around in the body and is readily available.
It is thought that it accomplishes this feat by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase, but all of this is largely based on theory.
And in theory it still seems that it could potentially increase test levels in humans althought tests have come back negative.
DHT occurs naturally and is thought to be a main cause of male pattern baldness and prostate tissue growth. This all makes sense because, in the study above that was conducted with 558 patients, nettle was shown to be able to reduce the size of the prostate.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there is no good evidence showing that nettle root increases testosterone in humans… or any animal, although from the looks of it might be a little bit more promising if you are a rat.
The rat study that has propelled this whole nettle testosterone boosting myth forward wasn't even focused on measuring nettle's effect on test and is not a good study to reference.
There is no debate going on… The stuff does not boost testosterone. There is no good evidence and because of that there is no debate.
ALSO, all of the studies have been performed used extracts and the leaves of the nettle plant, not the roots. I was not able to find any specifically using roots to test it's effectiveness. There likely is some carryover and similar benefits but you never know for sure.
Is It Good for Anything?
There are many reported benefits to consuming nettle. These include things like…
- May decrease inflammation
- Shown to be at least somewhat effective at treating benign prostatic hyperplasia
- May lower blood pressure
- May be beneficial as a respiratory aid
- May help protect body against irritants in the environment
But as you can see there is a lot of the use of "may" (do this) and "may" (do that). The benefits are understudied and there is much room for more research.
Adding It To Your Diet
If you are going to add it to your diet there are a variety of ways to go about doing so.
You can buy nettle in a variety of different forms, such as in capsules, raw leaves, and extract.
Raw leaves can be steeped in hot water to make tea or cooked into soups/stews. Capsules can be consumed at any time easily and extract can be mixed in with drinks or dripped onto the tongue for consumption.
There doesn't seem to be any standard dosage.
Based on the suggested serving sizes for products available on the market, it can range a great deal.
I have seen softgel capsules that suggest anywhere from 300 mg to 900 mg per day, raw nettle leaf products that suggest adding 1 teaspoon per cup of water when making tea, and leaf extract that is not comparable to the other forms.
Potential Side Effects
Nettle root is generally safe when consumed.
However, if you are handling the raw plant you might want to be careful. As mentioned earlier, it is called "stinging nettle" for a reason. On the underside of the leaves there are tiny barbs that can prick the skin. This causes different chemicals to be injected and may result in rashes, bumps, hives etc.
That said, even if this does happen it likely will not be anything to concerning, although it could potentially cause a severe allergic reaction.
Worth a Try?
There is no way that it is worth a try if you are looking to boost testosterone. Sure, there are benefits, as there are with any food, but boosting testosterone is not one of them.
This seems to be another case of an "ancient herb" that has been over-hyped by various companies just looking to turn a profit.