The Androgenic Approach: Understanding the Three Classes of Androgenic Herbs
The androgenic approach encompasses and breaches the levy of androgenic plants like Pine Pollen. The Androgenic Approach is a lifestyle focus to reclaim and re-balance, finding health, wellness, and vitality in a world that at many times seems diametrically opposed to these objectives. But, like the medicinal plants that return each Spring offering not just health but forgiveness for a polluted (and ignored) environment, health, wellness, and vitality remain ever-present. Available and within reach.
We break the androgenic approach into several categories and subcategories, each complimentary, each offering unique approaches, unique offerings, and unique advantages. These include internals (ie: herbs and supplements), the physical (ie: diet and exercise), and the mental/emotional (ie: relationships, purpose, and satisfaction). The tangible are easy to concur and you can find them on our website, the others are more difficult and we hope to convey these through blog-posts and video-posts. This blog post will only address the internals and will further your understanding of androgenic herbs.
The Internals: Herbs and Supplements
The products that RAW Forest Foods has developed and are offered on our website are best understood by understanding the three classes of products we carry, androgenic herbs, adaptogens and optimizers, and EstrogenDetox.
Androgenic herbs are those plants that work to directly and indirectly raise androgen (ie: testosterone) levels. Adaptogens and optimizers are herbs that work to balance and enhance the holistic body, including the endocrine system, the immune system, and many times the cardiovascular system. EstrogenDetox is a proprietary nutritional supplement developed by RAW Forest Foods which safely and effectively detoxifies (removes) harmful estrogen hormones and compounds from the body, compounds which are believed to wreak havoc on the endocrine system in men and women.
Of course, these all work together, not just in balance but also in effect. For instance, many adaptogens raise androgen levels, many androgenic herbs also work as adaptogens, and our EstrogenDetox would effectively raise testosterone levels by reducing estrogen levels. The three classes of Internals are organized based on their target effect and their traditional effect.
Androgenic plant-medicines can be sub-categorized by their action, or their effect, in the body. These are the three classes of androgenic herbs.
- Supplementors (ie Pine Pollen);
- Producers (ie Chinese Ginseng);
- Enhancers (ie Nettle Root).
The list of plants that have been scientifically studied and validated to either contain or enhance androgen levels is relatively short, and can be categorized by their action in the body. Each class of androgenic herbs has their own inherent advantages and disadvantages, and by understanding each plant and the class of androgenic plant it falls within, formulas can be combined to enhance the benefits of each and to minimize their deficiencies. In this way, customers can build their own alchemist creations and better understand how our formulas work.
Supplementors are androgenic plants which contain androgen hormones. For now, no other plant is known to contain androgen levels in as high potencies as the pollen from the Pinus massoniana variety of the pine tree, this is the pollen used in all of RAW Forest Foods Pine Pollen products. Pine Pollen contains all four major androgen (male sex) hormones, Androstenedione, Testosterone, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), & Androsterone.
- Quick. Because the androgen hormones are present in Pine Pollen, once digested or absorbed, Pine Pollen raises testosterone levels almost immediately. The alcohol based extracts of Pine Pollen are the most efficient at quickly elevating testosterone.
- Minimal energy costs. Because Pine Pollen supplements the body, the effects of elevated male sex hormones can be achieved without otherwise stressing the body to produce more androgen hormones.
- Men and Women. Men and women alike suffer from androgen deficiencies, but women have a lower capacity to produce androgens because the majority of androgens are produced in the testes. Pine Pollen, containing the androgen hormones, is able to raise androgen levels in women and in men whose main source of testosterone has been compromised.
- Lack of engagement. The endocrine system produces hormones through a network of glands. Glands stay healthy when they stay active. Because Pine Pollen supplements with androgen hormones, it does not engage the body to produce the hormones (other androgenic herbs do, see Cistanche Tubulosa).
- Negative feedback. Most hormones in the body, including all the sex hormones, are regulated through negative feedback. This mechanism works like the thermostat in a house, when the temperature drops the heat turn on until the set temperature is reached. So when testosterone levels naturally dip, the body boosts production until the set level is reached. Pine pollen does not help change the set level (other androgenic herbs do, see Tongkat Ali).
- Estrogen. Testosterone is converted to harmful estrogen compounds, and safeguards should be taken to minimize how much testosterone is converted to these compounds. Pile pollen does not reduce this conversion (other herbs do, see Nettle Root).
Producers are the class of androgenic herbs that mimic the endocrine signaling process in the body, which increase the actual amount of androgen hormones the body produces. The body using three hormones to signal male sex hormone production. First, gonadotropic releasing hormone (GnRH) (sometimes referred to as luteinizing releasing hormone) is secreted by the hypothalamus in the brain, which can be thought of as the main hormone thermostat of the body. GnRH then acts upon the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone (LH) or follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Both LH and FSH then act on the Leydig cells of the testis to produce testosterone.
Herbs work upon the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis to increase testosterone fall within the class of producers, because they signal the body to produce more testosterone. These would include Cistanche tubulosa, Panax ginseng, and Tribulus terrestris, because they all cause an increase in FSH and LH, which inturn encourages the Leydig cells to produce more testosterone. Another herb, Tongkat ali, intercepts the regulating mechanism to reprogram the body to “need” more testosterone, thus producing more.
- Engages glands of the endocrine system, which promotes endocrine health.
- By increasing LH and FSH, sperm quality increases, thus improving reproductive functioning of men.
- Beneficial side effects of these herbs include many anti-aging properties, including immune system regulation, muscle and bone health, and neuro-protective properties. These are classified as “positive externalities” of the herbs.
- Results are slow, usually no real improvement is noticed for 2+ weeks.
- Inefficient for women, men who are partially or fully castrated, and transgendered (female to male) men.
- For those unhealthy and otherwise feeble, could strain the body.
- Does not fully address the conversion of testosterone to estrogen within the body.
The third class of androgenic herbs are enhancers, herbs and other nutraceuticals which indirectly raise testosterone levels. This includes the root of the herb Urtica dioica (aka Nettle Root). Nettle Root blocks the loss of testosterone by sex hormone binding globulin. Free testosterone is the only type of “active” testosterone in the body, and free testosterone only accounts for 1-2% of all the testosterone in the body. The rest (98-99%) is lost to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which then converts the testosterone into estrogen metabolites through a process called aromatization.
Beta-sitosterols, the active compounds in Nettle Root, out compete testosterone for SHBG, so much so that Nettle Root will even free testosterone that has already been bound by SHBG. Nettle Root prevents the loss of testosterone and frees testosterone from SHBG. This is important in that it increased levels of androgen hormones and prevents the harmful aromatization process. This is why Nettle Root is considered a androgenic herb even though it does not contain androgen hormones and does not signal the body to produce any.
Similarly, EstrogenDetox, another maximize and detoxifier, rids the body of excess estrogen, thus favoring the amount of testosterone in the testosterone to estrogen ratio. Increased levels of estrogen inflate this ratio, making people become estrogen dominate, effectively lowering androgen levels. By detoxifying estrogen, testosterone/androgen dominance can return.
- Reduces estrogen load.
- Effective for men and women.
- Helps harmonize and restore homeostasis.
- Clears and repairs.
- Does not directly increase testosterone levels.
- Effects can be slow.
To learn more, please visit the individual product pages.