Having written about supplements and health news for several years, I’m always interested in new ingredients that propose novel treatments. In the case of testosterone boosters, several new herbs and compounds have hit the lists, recently, and one of them is Luteolin.
Luteolin is a flavonoid, a plant compound responsible for, among other things, the color of a plant or flower. Dietary sources include green vegetables like broccoli and parsley, but also in teas like chamomile and fruits such as navel oranges. In this article, I’ll look at the emerging medical studies of Luteolin, looking for any proof it can increase testosterone.
✲ A growing body of data suggests that Luteolin can stimulate the rate at which Leydig cells produce testosterone.
✲ The mechanisms for Luteolin may also have been identified, solidifying past results.
✲ Luteolin may also possess protective qualities, though these data require further study.
✲ Additionally, there is some evidence that Luteolin can inhibit estrogen, a key to balancing hormones in aging males.
Following only a few years of quantitative research, Canadian scientists publishing in the journal Antioxidants, made the bold claim that Luteolin found in parsley and thyme could increase testosterone production through something called the StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory) protein.
Intrigued, I decided to check their sources, to determine how the data had been collected. I found that the study the Antioxidants piece quoted was published in the journal Cell Biology and Toxicology, and that scientists for that study didn’t just pick Luteolin out of a hat.
Instead, they arrived at it through a deterministic process whereby they studied the StAR process and what may be inhibiting it in aging males. Scientists have long known that for the Leydig cells (hormone producers in the testes) to make testosterone, they need to be triggered by outside messenger compounds. One of which is the StAR protein. If the StAR protein isn’t making it into the DNA of the Lyedig cell, the DNA won’t unzip and produce testosterone.
They hypothesized that the hydroxyl properties of certain plant compounds could help with that transfer of the StAR into the cell mitochondria of the Leydig cell. Not only was their hypothesis correct, but among all the tested flavonoids, Luteolin not only had the best success at this, but it may be enough to increase the testosterone production in aging men.
In Vivo Study
When a hypothesis is tested in vitro, it is always beneficial to carry out trials in vivo. To that end, scientists took up the previous findings and, publishing in the same journal, produced their results of Luteolin and testosterone production in live animals. While these data cannot be exactly known to duplicate in humans, these studies were carried out only a year or so ago.
Their data from live experiments showed not only increases in testosterone production, but also adaptogen responses in the Leydig cells in the presence of stressors. Stressors on body chemistry can have huge hormonal effects, and these data suggest that in aging men, those effects could be mitigated by Luteolin.
People often ask why so many more experiments are conducted on laboratory animals versus humans. One of the main reasons is that it simply isn’t ethical to test on humans some of the hypotheses we do on animals. Case in point, a study published in Biotechnic & Histochemistry tested the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on the testes of rats.
This research would be incredibly difficult to do legally or ethically with humans. But in this case, even though there are huge implications for EMF effects on humans. Researchers in this study found that testosterone and sperm health were greatly improved by Luteolin in the treated group, even after severe EMF exposure.
There are a lot of red herrings in the health world, especially with the increase of herbal supplements and the rise of the internet. One of my primary motivations for doing this job is to make sure that good science is available to everyday people.
One thing that is not a red herring is that high levels of estrogen can, indeed, affect testosterone levels, especially in aging men. Toward that end, it may be the case in some men that rather than boost testosterone, it may be beneficial to also, or even only, simply lower estrogen production.
The first study that came my way actually predates the testosterone studies by several years. In this study of cells taken from premenopausal women, it was found that Luteolin prevented a key function by which testosterone is converted to estrogen, called the aromatase expression.
A year later, researchers publishing in Hormones and Cancer found that Luteolin was such a “potent estrogen agonist” that they cautioned its use as a supplement in healthy women.
Despite the novelty of the application, it seems the Luteolin can indeed help stimulate testosterone production. Not only that, but it stimulates that production at the very source, in the Leydig cell itself. The fact that scientists were able to isolate the mechanism, rather than simply observe the effect, lends a higher degree of reliability to their conclusions and findings.
In addition, it appears that Luteolin has a strong anti-estrogen property, though more research is needed in this area to determine its efficacy in men with high estrogen. Overall, more studies are needed to determine how all of these benefits may translate to humans.