A man's testosterone level usually peaks in his 20s, then slowly decreases around age 30. A 1% per-year decrease in testosterone is average for middle-aged and older men, but over time this deficit builds enough to spawn a series of symptoms.
Inadequate testosterone levels can significantly impact your physical and mental health and overall quality of life. It can lead to various health issues, from decreased sexual function to mood disturbances like sadness and depression. Excessive testosterone, on the other hand, is a risk factor for conditions such as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), acne, and baldness.
For those experiencing a dip in the hormone, there are several ways to boost your testosterone level. Testosterone therapy is a prevalent option that causes improvement in energy level, sex drive, and quality of erections. But what if you want something natural to help boost your male hormone levels?
Ganoderma lucidum, or Reishi mushroom, is one of the most important tonic herbs and medicinal mushrooms. Clinical analysis of Ganoderma lucidum has repeatedly demonstrated its effects on testosterone levels.
So, what is the link between Reishi mushroom and testosterone? And how do the medicinal fungi affect the male-sex hormone?
Find out below the Reishi mushroom testosterone effects: can it increase or decrease the hormone?
Reishi Mushroom Effects On Testosterone
A handful of scientific studies have explored Reishi testosterone effects. Below are some ways the mushroom may potentially affect the sex hormone levels.
Testosterone is converted to its active form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), by an enzyme 5 alpha-reductase. DHT, a metabolite of testosterone, then binds to the receptors producing similar effects.
How Can Reishi Increase Testosterone?
Anecdotal evidence does suggest that Reishi mushroom may be used to increase testosterone levels. A study published in the Journal of Plant Medicine(1) suggests that Reishi mushroom may significantly boost testosterone levels.
Investigators selected seven male competitive cyclists who had been competitively cycling for over a decade. During the four-month study, cyclists were given a placebo for a month, and the next three months were given mushroom supplements consisting of Reishi and Cordyceps sinensis.
During the testing period, cyclists competed in long-distance bike races. Researchers then utilized several tests to compare the performance of the cyclist. Blood samples were also taken to measure the testosterone/cortisol ratio, which indicates performance levels.
Five of the seven cyclists went over the 30% mark on their testosterone/cortisol ratio compared to those who received the placebo. They also had about double the average testosterone levels compared to the placebo.
There are reports of Reishi lowering testosterone levels and being considered an anti-androgen therapy. More human studies are therefore required to see how the mushroom may enhance testosterone levels.
How Does Reishi Mushroom Lower Testosterone?
Ganoderma lucidum is known for its ability to inhibit the activity(2) of 5 alpha reductases. This prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, seemingly increasing the levels of testosterone.
While this may appear to increase testosterone levels, the DHT is the metabolically active form of the hormone and has much more potent effects.
Now, in a research study exploring the anti-androgenic effects of 19 species of mushrooms, Reishi mushrooms had the most vigorous action in inhibiting testosterone.
Prostatic enlargement is dependent on tissue androgen. In this study, researchers investigated the effects of Ganoderma lucidum on the steroid enzyme 5α-reductase a and on the testosterone-induced growth of the prostate in castrated rats.
Of the methanol extracts of all studied medicinal mushrooms, the fruit body of Ganoderma lucidum or the extract prepared from it significantly inhibited the testosterone-induced growth of the prostatic tissues in castrated rats. The 5 alpha-reductase inhibitory activity of Ganoderma lucidum was dose-dependent.
Additionally, the extracts of Ganoderma lucidum inhibited both types of 5 alpha-reductase enzymes. This is also called dual inhibition, which might be advantageous for the therapy of BPH.
Does Reishi Mushroom Block DHT?
Several scientific studies have shown that Reishi mushroom blocks the conversion of testosterone to the active form, dihydrotestosterone. In addition, the triterpenes in the mushroom are known to inhibit 5 alpha reductases, an enzyme that mediates this conversion.
Does Reishi Affect Hormones?
Reishi mushrooms are known to balance several hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. The fungi help with infertility and PCOS by reducing high levels of androgenic hormones. It is also known to aid hormonal imbalance in menopause and weight gain.
Reishi mushroom contains the bioactive compound triterpenes that have been demonstrated to have testosterone lowering or anti-androgen effects. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence and limited scientific studies have also displayed the increasing impact of Reishi mushroom testosterone.
Based on what we have explored so far, Reishi mushroom's effects on testosterone are not apparent. However, additional animal and human studies are required to determine the link between Reishi mushroom and testosterone. So, if you are planning to take Reishi mushroom supplements for your hormonal issues, it is always best to speak with a healthcare provider first.
- Reishi and Cordyceps Boost Testosterone and Athletic Performance, (1)https://plantmedicines.org/reishi-and-cordyceps-boost-testosterone-and-increase-athletic-performance/
- 5α-Reductase Inhibitory Effect of Triterpenoids Isolated from Ganoderma lucidum, (2) https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bpb/29/2/29_2_392/_article