(SHBG Blockers, Written By David Jaynes)
A lot of factors that determine your testosterone levels are easy to understand, because they work like your diet or your exercise program.
(Hell, many of them are your diet and exercise program).
Others, though, are pure chemistry. Harder to understand and basically impossible to see.
SHBG is one of those.
SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) is a protein your liver makes. It binds to the sex hormones estrogen, dihydrotestosterone, and testosterone.
When bound up, those hormones can’t do their jobs.
The presence of SHBG is important to your health as a regulator for your hormone levels, but too much can mean insufficient testosterone available for your health. Your body still produces a healthy level of testosterone. It just can’t use it, because it’s bound up by SHBG.
Bottom line: more SHBG = less free and available testosterone.
If you have high SHBG, testosterone therapy is far from the answer. Your body is already likely producing T at healthy levels, so the last thing you need is to flood your body with more of the stuff.
That can lead to the dreaded testosterone therapy cycle, where the therapy essentially shuts down your natural T production.
Instead, you can use supplements and lifestyle hacks to get your body to produce less SHBG. It’s not an overnight silver bullet, but it can get you back to healthy levels of SHBG without side-effect producing, big-pharma “solutions.”
SHBG Blockers – Supplements That Lower SHBG
As you probably already know, taking a supplement is one of the best ways to naturally “hack” your system into doing what it’s supposed to be doing. That’s why performance athletes use them all the time.
I’ve been researching in the T field a long time (including many experiments on myself), and here’s what I trust to help reduce SHBG with the most impact and the least side effects.
Magnesium Oil Blocks SHBG
Turns out your body uses a lot of magnesium. It regulates many of your body’s functions, one of which is the levels of serum sex hormones, including testosterone.
A wide array of studies found that magnesium supplements increased testosterone in males of all ages. In particular, a study at Selcuk University in Turkey found that just 4 weeks of 1 gram of magnesium increased testosterone levels by 24% (source).
Later research confirmed that this was partially caused by magnesium oil’s impact as an SHBG blocker.
It turns out that at even slightly elevated levels, it inhibits SHBG. This stops it from binding to sex hormones, including testosterone. Less bound testosterone means more free testosterone for your body to use.
Besides being one of the best ways how to lower SHBG, magnesium oil has been a popular liniment for centuries. Put some on your skin and leave it there for 15 to 20 minutes after a hard workout.
It will prevent sore muscles, or relieve them if you already have them. My personal favorite brand is Life Flo Magnesium Oil.
Vitamin D is an SHBG Blocker
I’ve already mentioned (a lot), how much good Vitamin D does for your testosterone levels. It’s one of those great supplements that hits you both directly and indirectly for high T production.
Getting more Vitamin D…
- Increases your body’s production of androgens, including testosterone.
- Increases your body’s Free Androgen Index – The amount of androgens like testosterone running around available for your body to use.
- Reduces stress. Stress = cortisol. Cortisol shreds your ability to make and use T.
- Elevates mood, which improves your social connections. Strong social connections help with stress and other factors known to reduce testosterone production.
As it turns out, Vitamin D also directly reduces levels of SHBG.
A Malaysian study of young men tested their blood for both SHBG and Vitamin D levels. They compared the two figures, accounting for variable like age, BMI, and ethnicity (source).
And yup, they found a direct and significant link. More vitamin D means less SHBG. Research on the how and why is still ongoing, but the link is conclusive.
The best way to up your Vitamin D is spending time in natural sunlight. Bonus points for combining this with other T-boosting activities like sprint or interval workouts, stress-relieving nature walks, or making out with your partner.
But if you live in Alaska or work graveyards, or you’re a vampire or something, I recommend softgel D3 tablets taken daily with breakfast.
Tongkat Ali Blocks SHBG
Tongkat Ali grows naturally in Southeast Asia, and the people there have used it as a fertility enhancer for millennia.
It’s one of those herbs where we have a lot of traditional knowledge about what it does, with only a little scientific research into what wise men and women have known all along.
One of the few university-level studies happened in 2003 in Malaysia (a country where Tongkat Ali grows naturally, and which still has a healthy respect for proven folk medicine).
It found that Tongkat Ali is a powerful SHBG blocker, as it decreased SHBG in the subjects by a whopping two-thirds, with a corresponding increase in free testosterone of 73%.
Nettle Root (not leaf) Extract
The impact of nettle root on prostate problems is well established. It’s commonly used to reduce both symptoms of enlarged prostate, and to reduce risk of prostate cancers.
More recently, work has shown that nettle root is one of the most effective SHBG blockers. It does this because the roots contain lignans. Lignans bind to SHBG the same way SHBG binds to sex hormones like testosterone.
When bound, it can’t do its job. It leaves your testosterone free in the blood stream to do its job.
Bottom line: nettle root doesn’t reduce your production of SHBG. It makes the SHBG you do produce less effective.
One final thing…
All of the above info is about nettle root and its extracts. Nettle leaf has other health benefits, but no impact at all on SHBG.
Boron Blocks SHBG
There’s a little bit of controversy about boron and testosterone, because people don’t know how to examine research. A famous study at Auburn University in Alabama found that boron had no impact on testosterone and a lot of folks ran with that information.
But the Auburn study used two and a half mg’s of boron with its subjects. That’s a tiny dosage of boron. At 10mg, Dr. Reza Naghii of the University of Medical Sciences in Iran found significant reductions of SHBG after just one week (source).
Even if it doesn’t work with your SHBG, boron is almost as important to bone health as calcium. It might also help prevent, or at least delay, arthritis. You can get boron tablets easily enough, and I recommend 10mg a day just like in the study.
Lifestyle Habits That Block SHBG
One of the biggest problems with modern medicine is they rely too much on what you put in your body, instead of reminding us what to do with our bodies.
We don’t make the same mistake here on this site.
Yes, supplements will alter some of the chemistry in your body as a way how to lower SHBG and increase available testosterone. No, it won’t do that as effectively as taking a supplement and making some simple lifestyle changes.
Besides, even the most benign supplement can have some side effects or reactions with your body. That’s not the case with changing your lifestyle. The only “side effects” of these approaches are other beneficial impacts on your overall health and quality of life.
Drink Less Alcohol
Based on how often I mention drinking less booze, you’d think I was some kind of prohibition agent from the 20s.
That’s not so: I like a good drink as much as the next guy.
But I also do my research. And my research has reared booze’s head in this topic, too.
Specifically, a team at the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Chile in Santiago examined alcoholic patients who came into hospitals for treatments. They looked directly at SHBG levels over the hours the patients were on site.
They found that SHBG levels dropped significantly as the alcohol left the patients’ systems. Though they didn’t test what process caused it, the conclusion was obvious.
Something about having alcohol in your bloodstream stimulates your body to put more SHBG in there, too.
Low Carb Diets and SHBG
“Experts” go back and forth on how carbs impact health, and the truth of it is carbs are good or bad or neutral depending on your exact goals and exercise habits.
For purposes of testosterone and how to lower SHBG, the right carbs are good.
A US Government study by Dr. KE Anderson looked at the impact of a high-protein diet and a high-carb diet on levels of free testosterone. They found the high-carb diet produced 36% more free testosterone than the high-protein diet (source).
Further, they found a direct parallel impact on SHBG. Levels went down further for the high-carb diet than for the high-protein diet.
Yes, this means you should be eating carbs. No, it doesn’t mean you should load up on Wonder Bread for every meal.
The best carbs for SHBG blocking are potatoes, buckwheat, white rice, oats and sorghum. Fruits and veggies are also solid carb sources for variety.
Stay Away From Low Calorie Diets, Too
It’s a simple fact of weight loss: you have to eat fewer calories than you take in if you want to lose weight. That’s math, biology, and thermodynamics.
Not much you can do about it.
But if you do establish a calorie deficit so you can lose weight, you should still eat between 85 and 90 percent of your daily needs. More than that, and your endocrine system takes a big hit.
A study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis looked at SHBG in three populations: men on calorie-deficit diets, men who were endurance runners, and men with a “typical” exercise and diet routine. Of the three populations, only the men on calorie-deficit diets had consistently increased SHBG.
This happens because stress is one of the main things that stimulates your endocrine system. The stress of thinking you are starving to death makes your body produce hormones in weird ways. That includes both pumping more estrogen into your blood, and producing more SHBG.
So keep your calorie deficit diet moderate, and don’t stay on it for too long.
You can also help mitigate the problems by maintaining the right ratio of calorie sources. You want 40 percent each from fats and carbs, and 20 percent from protein for optimal hormonal balance. Don’t just cut out fats, or carbs, because that will make the effects on your hormone production worse.
Avoid Estrogen-Increasing Activities
So here’s how this works. SHBG’s job is to bind to estrogen as well as testosterone. In this capacity it’s one of the ways your body keeps a healthy balance between these two core sex hormones.
If your estrogen production increases, your body makes more SHBG to compensate for the load. Like a confused cop dragnet, that increased SHBG grabs up extra testosterone right along with the estrogen it’s supposed to be policing.
Conclusion: if you’re doing stuff that stimulates your body to increase its estrogen production. Knock it off.
Some examples of activities which increase estrogen include:
•Drinking too much hoppy beer
•Stressful activities, which increase estrogen
•Storing food in plastic containers
•Drinking from plastic water bottles
While you’re at it, engage in “manly” activities like competitive sports and killing it at your career. These have been shown to directly increase your testosterone.
Limit Your Nut Consumption
Nuts are great for a lot of health purposes, but higher testosterone and lower SHBG in not one of them.
In 2011, a study found that pistachios significantly decreased serum testosterone levels in men. The team doing the research attributed it to the phytosterol content of that particular nut.
Phytosterol directly and significantly decreases testosterone. That same year, a study on walnuts and almonds found that those nuts increased SHBG levels in women suffering with PCOS, a condition that causes androgen imbalances (source).
I’m not saying don’t eat any nuts. Just make them an occasional treat. Cut down on the PBJs and the gorp, but a handful now and again is all right.
Build Muscle and Burn Fat to Block SHBG
Okay. If you’re interested enough in your health to be reading this site you’re probably doing this anyway. But it’s especially important if your SHBG levels are too high.
Two facts about this you need to memorize:
- If your body fat is over 15%, your body produces more SHBG. There are a couple of steps in between, but that’s the short of it
- More muscle = more testosterone produced and the activities which build muscle fastest also directly stimulate T production.
So seriously. Less fat and more muscle means more testosterone produced, and less testosterone bound by SHBG.
And that’s not taking into account the ways a leaner, more muscular body makes your t-levels, sexual health, mental health, and general quality of life so much better.
You know how to do both things. High impact intervals and power lifting for exercise. Diets rich in proteins, good carbs, and beneficial fats. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t give in to the twin temptations of Netflix and the dessert table.
In my experience, this last point needs the least explanation and the most motivation.
Like the slogan says, just do it.
SHBG Blockers – Conclusion
Just because SHBG is invisible doesn’t mean it’s not important. It also doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it.
A combination of supplements and lifestyle changes can be used effectively as SHBG blockers to get your body to lower SHBG and increase free testosterone.
Every man’s mileage will vary because each man’s body, environment, and conditions are different.
But if you take a little from column A and a bit from column B, and cycle some things in and out to see what happens, you’ll find a plan that works for you.
Also, while using these SHBG blockers, pay close attention to what works and what does not because these clues will provide information on areas in your life that you need to place the most focus on.
And finally, for more information on boosting testosterone naturally, follow the link below…