Ok, so maybe you’ve gone to your doctor and had a discussion about your hormone levels. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, you’ve heard something about hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. You’ve picked up on a few key phrases here and there, and you may even have an above-average understanding of your body’s hormone functions. However, there’s still a lot of mist shrouding the topic…
One of the most common points of confusion in the realm of hormones is also one of the most interesting: free testosterone.
So what is free testosterone? What does that even mean? What’s its purpose? Where does it come from? And why is it important to you?
You’re about to find out.
Let’s start with defining the difference between testosterone and free testosterone.
“Testosterone is a male sex hormone (androgen) that helps male features develop. Testosterone is made in the testes and the adrenal glands. It causes the changes that occur in boys during puberty. Testosterone helps hair and muscles grow. It also helps the penis and testes grow. Testosterone also causes a boy’s voice to deepen. Men continue to make testosterone. It boosts sex drive and helps make sperm.
Women’s ovaries also make small amounts of testosterone. In many ways, Testosterone is as essential in women as it is in men.
The pituitary gland in your brain controls the amount of testosterone your body makes.
Most of the testosterone in your blood attaches to 2 proteins: albumin and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Some testosterone is not attached to proteins, and it floats around “freely” in the blood. This is called “free testosterone”. Free testosterone and albumin-bound testosterone are also referred to as bioavailable testosterone. This is the testosterone that is easily used by your body.” – University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia
Okay, say that all again but in English, Doc…
Essentially, free testosterone is the amount of your total testosterone that your body can actually put to use, and it’s seriously important to your overall well-being!
It is entirely possible for an individual to feel the symptoms of deficiency (decreased sex drive, low energy, bone loss, infertility, etc.) while displaying “normal” test levels simply because their free testosterone is low.
That’s a pretty crucial concept right there.
So what can be done if you’re someone with “normal” or even optimal testosterone levels but low free testosterone? That’s where things get interesting, and maybe even a little bit naturopathic.
For this part of the story, we’re transported deep into the heart of the rainforests of Malaysia. There we find growing from the ground a vibrant green, medium size, rather slender shrub.
Bearing compound leaves measuring nearly 40 inches in length and consisting of between 30 to 40 leaflets, the shrub appears rather humble upon first glance, however, the Eurycoma longifolia Jack, more commonly known as Tongkat Ali (or Longjack) has a trick up its sleeve.
After undergoing a unique, patented extraction method, Longjack can be used as a supplement to aide our bodies in the process of unbinding our testosterone from the albumin and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) mentioned above, thus resulting in increased levels of free testosterone.
That said, the efficacy of Longjack and other similar products recommended for the purpose of boosting free testosterone is generally marginal at best, and for some individuals the herb may yield little to no results whatsoever.
At the end of the day, if you’re experiencing the tell-tale symptoms of low testosterone, or if you have tested your levels and noticed your free testosterone level is subpar, there’s a strong chance that replacing and optimizing your overall testosterone level could be the best possible remedy, resulting in the greatest, most tangible results.