As men age, there is often a decline in levels of testosterone. Research1 indicates that testosterone levels in men fall progressively with age and that a significant percentage of men over the age of 60 years have serum T levels that are below the lower limits of young adult men (age 20-30 years). Some studies2 show that men experience a gradual and progressive decline in total testosterone levels that take place at a rate of approximately 1 percent per year beginning in their thirties, while other studies3 show an average annual decline of 1 to 2 percent total T levels, with an even more rapid decline in free T. Ramifications of this decline in testosterone include a reduction in libido and sexual function, interfering with intimacy in romantic relationships, while also eroding self-confidence and quality of life. Consequently, it is no surprise that prescriptions for testosterone (injections and gels) have become more common in men 50 years and older.
This article will discuss how a nutraceutical blend consisting of black ginger methoxy flavones, fenugreek and tribulus (AlphaNRG by Aurea/Zehn Naturals) has been shown to help increase testosterone levels and other aspects of male sexual function. Before discussing the research on this blend, let’s first review prior research on the individual nutraceutical components.
Black Ginger Methoxyflavones
Black ginger (Kaempferia parviflora) is found in the North and Northeast of Thailand. It is popular as a health-promoting herb and traditionally used as a folk medicine for managing a variety of diseases, including inflammation, ulcers, gout, colic disorder, abscesses, allergy and osteoarthritis.4,5
In addition, black ginger has long been used for men’s sexual enhancement in Thailand. The activities of black ginger extract were studied in male rat sexual behavior and found to increase courtship behavior greatly. Furthermore, black ginger treatment was found to significantly elevates the levels of serum testosterone, the concentration of sperm, the weight of testes and improve the behavior of copulation in a group of diabetic rats.6
Research on black ginger has identified methoxyflavones as major active compounds, which have anticholinesterase activity (linked to sexual arousal) and PDE-5 inhibition activity (beneficial for erectile dysfunction).7 In addition, in the body some of the methoxyflavones are transformed into chrysin (an anti-aromatase, which may help prevent testosterone from being converted into an estrogen—thereby maintaining higher testosterone levels)8 and apigenin (shown to help increase testosterone levels in animal research).9,10
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a well-known herb, containing a variety of compounds as active ingredients. It is an extremely versatile herb with multiple applications. This amazing herb is said to contain more than 100 phytochemical constituents. Amongst them are furostanol and steroidal saponins. Human research11 has demonstrated that fenugreek seed extract was effective in significantly improving the Aging Male Symptom questionnaire (AMS), a measure of possible androgen deficiency symptoms, improving sexual function (including number of morning erections and frequency of sexual activity), and increasing serum testosterone and free testosterone levels in healthy middle-aged and older men.
In ayurveda, the herb Tribulus terrestris has been used in promoting genito-urinary health, supporting sexual activity, and as a general tonic for centuries. An ayurvedic preparation containing Tribulus terrestris was used to treat 50 patients complaining of lethargy, fatigue and lack of interest in day to day activities. The results showed an overall improvement (45 percent) in symptoms.12 Of greater significance are the studies where the standardized extracts of Tribulus terrestris were found to have a stimulating effect on the libido in animal and human studies.13,14 For example, 30 non-diabetic men with erectile dysfunction, 30 non-diabetic men without erectile dysfunction and 30 diabetic men with erectile dysfunction were given Tribulus terrestris three times daily for three weeks. There was a significant increase in the frequency of successful intercourse by 60 percent in both the diabetic and non-diabetic groups with erectile dysfunction.15
Black Ginger Methoxy Flavones, Fenugreek and Tribulus Blend: PNS Technology
Before discussing the clinical research on the blend of black ginger methoxy flavones, fenugreek and tribulus, I first want to explain how these ingredients are used in a new innovation called PNS Technology. Here’s the background.
Recently, a novel bioavailable curcuminoid formulation was formulated using PNS technology, where curcuminoid as a single molecule was protected inside a complete natural matrix of turmeric.16 Specifically, the Polar-Non Polar Sandwiching (PNS) Technology used the polar and nonpolar fractions of the herbs to sandwich the active components between them, thereby increasing their stability and ensuring targeted delivery.17 This same PNS technology was used whereby black ginger methoxyflavones and bioactives from fenugreek and tribulus were sandwiched between the non-polar black ginger resinoids (AlphaNRG) with the objective of improving delivery and clinical outcomes. Did it work? Yes. Let’s review the results of the clinical study.
Black Ginger Methoxy Flavones, Fenugreek and Tribulus Blend: The Clinical Study
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted with 60 healthy males aged between 21 and 55, randomized to an oral dose of placebo or a blend of black ginger methoxy flavones, fenugreek and tribulus (AlphaNRG, 500 mg capsules/day) for 12 weeks. Outcome measures included change in serum testosterone levels, sperm parameters, International Index of Erectile Dysfunction (IIEF), and 36-Item Short Form Health Survey questionnaire (SF-36) is a very prevalent instrument for assessing health related quality of life—in this case for parameters known to influence male sexual functioning. Results were that the AlphaNRG experienced meaningful increases in total and free testosterone (see Table 1), improvements in sperm param-eters (see Table 2) and an improvement in the IIED (see Table 3). Furthermore, the ingredient showed a statistical increase in total score of SF-36 compared to placebo, as well as a 17.2198 percent improvement in the vitality score. The authors concluded that AlphaNRG was found to be a safe and effective treatment for reducing symptoms of possible androgen deficiency, improving sexual function and increasing serum testosterone in healthy middle-aged and older men.
Given the prevalence of decreased testosterone in aging men, the use of black ginger methoxy flavones, fenugreek and tribulus as AlphaNRG offers an option for helping to increase levels of this hormone, with a high margin of safety. Additionally, this nutraceutical blend has been show to promote other aspects of male sexual function.
1 Wang C, Nieschlag E, Swerdloff R, Behre HM. Investigation, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism in males: ISA, ISSAM, EAU, EAA and ASA recommendations. Eur J Endocrinol. 2008;159:507–514.
2 Matsumoto AM. Andropause: Clinical Implications of the Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels With Aging in Men. Journal of Gerontology. 2002. 57A(2):M76–M99.
3 Araujo AB, Wittert GA. Endocrinology of the Aging Male. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 April ; 25(2): 303–319.
4 Saokaew S, Wilairat P, Raktanyakan P, et al. Clinical Effects of Krachaidum (Kaempferia parviflora): A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;22(3):413–428.
5 Toda K, Hitoe S, Takeda S, Shimoda H. Black ginger extract increases physical fitness performance and muscular endurance by improving inflammation and energy metabolism. Heliyon. 2016; 2(5): Article ID e00115.
6 Lert-Amornpat T, Maketon C, Fungfuang W. Effect of Kaempferia parviflora on sexual performance in streptozotocin-induced diabetic male rats. Andrologia. 2017; 49(10): e12770.
7 Chen D, Li H, Li W, et al. Kaempferia parviflora and Its Methoxyflavones: Chemistry and Biological Activities. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018; 2018: Article ID 4057456.
8 Kellis J, Vickery L. Inhibition of human estrogen synthetase (aromatase) by flavones. Science 1984;225(4666):1032-4.
9 Li W, Pandey AK, Yin X, et al. Effects of Apigenin on Steroidogenesis and Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory Gene Expression in Mouse Leydig Cells. J Nutr Biochem. 2011 Mar; 22(3): 212–218.
10 Chen D, Li H, Li W, et al. Kaempferia parviflora and Its Methoxyflavones: Chemistry and Biological Activities. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018; 2018: Article ID 4057456.
11 Rao A, Steels E, Inder WJ, Abraham S, Vitetta L. Testofen, a specialised Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract reduces age-related symptoms of androgen decrease, increases testosterone levels and improves sexual function in healthy aging males in a double-blind randomised clinical study. Aging Male. 2016 Jan 20:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]
12 Jayaram S, et al. Tribulus. Indian Drugs 1993 ;30(10):498-500.
13 Tomova M. Tibestan: A preparation from Tribulus terrestris. Farmatsiya 1987;37(6):40-42.
14 Gauthaman K, Adaikan PG, Prasad RN. Aphrodisiac properties of Tribulus terrestris extract (Protodioscin) in normal and castrated rats. Life Sci 2002;71(12):1385-96.
15 Adimoelja A and Adaikan PG. Protodioscin from herbal plant Tribulus terrestris L improves the male sexual functions, probably via DHEA. 6th Biennial Asian-Pacific Meeting on Imptence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Int J Impotence Res. 1997; 9(suppl. 1).
16 Augustine Amalraj, Shintu Jude, Karthik Varma, Joby Jacob, Sreeraj Gopi, Oluwatobi S. Oluwafemi, Sabu Thomas, Preparation of a novel bioavailable curcuminoid formulation (Cureit) using Polar-Nonpolar-Sandwich (PNS) technology and its characterization and applications, Materials Science and Engineering: C, Volume 75, 2017, Pages 359-367, ISSN 0928-4931, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2017.02.068.
17 Augustine Amalraj, Sreeraj Gopi, Recreation of turmeric matrix with enhanced curcuminoids- Enhances bioavailability and bioefficacy. In: Recent Trends in Nanomedicine and Tissue Engineering; Jince Thomas, Sabu Thomas, Jiya Jose, Nandakumar Kalarikkal (eds).
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, the dean of academics for Huntington College of Health Sciences, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 30 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.