Butea Superba has various health benefits, including the potential for being a powerful testosterone booster. As many men suffer from low testosterone, they might resort to exotic herbal supplements to correct their condition. But do these remedies, such as Butea Superba, stand up to the growing hype?
Butea superba, a plant native to India and Southeast Asia
Just a few days ago I received an email from a fitness website I’d downloaded a free ebook from: ‘30% off our test-booster, containing butea superba’. Butea superba? Never heard of it. Bulbine natalensis, tribulus terrestris – sure, I’d hear of those test boosters. Ecdysterone too; although that’s not strictly a test booster, but does have strong anabolic effects.
But butea superba? Never.
The list of benefits was certainly impressive: testosterone booster, erectile hardness and libido, anti-oxidant and anti-aging, anti-estrogen, hair growth. In addition, the email claimed their product was ‘a rare premium strain which is more potent than 95% of all the other products on the market’.
As often seems to happen, that same day I had a client ask me about butea superba. Should he use it to increase his testosterone levels? Well, I wasn’t sure. For one thing, I wasn’t sure he had low testosterone, and I still didn’t know what butea superba actually was or did, so I decided to do a little research of my own.
What Is Butea Superba?
Dried butea superba
Before we address the question of whether butea superba is a potent test booster, let’s talk a little about what it actually is.
Butea superba, also known as red kwao krua in Thai, is a flowering plant in the pea family. Like the clematis, it is a crawler plant that grows around other larger plants, especially trees. The plant is native to India and Southeast Asia.
Butea has long been used in Thailand as an aphrodisiac to increase sexual appetite and performance, which has clearly been the basis of its use as a testosterone booster. The evidence for its efficacy, however, is far from clear.
What do the studies say?
Placing a certain amount of reliance on scientific studies isn’t necessarily a bad thing
In short, the scientific evidence for the efficacy of butea superba isn’t tremendous. As far as the aphrodisiac and libido claims are concerned, two studies have shown that butea enhances erections in rats. [R] [R] Another study suggests that butea might be more effective than Viagra in humans, although the study appears to have been conducted in a slipshod manner.
First of all, it’s worth saying that, chemically, we might expect butea to increase testosterone because one of its active compounds is a strong cAMP phopshodiesterase inhibitor. Inhibition of this molecule has been shown to increase testosterone levels.
Another trial in rats, however, showed a decrease in serum testosterone, as well as other important blood markers including white blood cell count. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the butea was simply reducing testosterone production. At the same time as this decrease in serum levels of testosterone was observed, androgenic, that is masculinising, effects were observed such as increased spleen weight. What this suggests is that the reduction in testosterone may have been caused either by the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or by increased use of testosterone by the androgen receptors. Another study showed similar androgenic effects in female rats.
In a three-month human study, butea increased the testosterone levels of men with erectile dysfunction by 11%. It’s worth noting that the study was small-scale, involving just 39 men, and because other androgen markers, such as DHT, were not measured, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions on this basis alone.
Finally, there is a case study of a Thai man who was diagnosed with hyperandrogenemia – excess androgen hormones – as a result of taking an undisclosed amount of butea. As well as experiencing an insane sex drive, the man also experienced hair loss. One of the principal causes of baldness is DHT (see above), which the Thai man experienced a significant increase in; although under measurement, his serum testosterone levels had only increased 1.7%.
Should I try butea?
So you say it’s ‘a rare premium strain which is more potent than 95% of all the other products on the market’?
On the basis of the scientific evidence, we’d argue that there are better test boosters on the market. We’ve examined two in a recent article (bulbine natalensis and tribulus terrestris). The evidence that butea superba is a potent test booster – with the emphasis on ‘potent’, as in the email I received – definitely isn’t there. In time, perhaps, more studies will substantiate its effects. Or maybe they won’t.
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