Natural testosterone boosters (i.e., “test” boosters) always sell well, so it’s not surprising to see Force Factor bring Test X180 to the market.If you’ve checked out other natural test-boosting products, you’ll find the claims made for Text X180 are pretty typical…
… more energy, a big boost in the libido department, and plenty of extra “T” floating around to help you build slabs of lean, rock hard muscle in the gym.
Update: Force Factor LLC, the makers of this product, is curently being sued. The defendants allege that the key ingredients in the product have no proven ability to boost free testosterone. They’re correct. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
However, despite the advertorials (ads made to look like editorial articles) you may have encountered featuring flustered GNC managers who are “unable” to keep the product in stock due to its huge popularity and success, there is absolutely nothing new, novel, or interesting about Test X180.
Well-crafted advertising uses tactics to overcome “human inertia” and get you to buy now. Creating the appearance of product scarcity is a good way to do this, regardless whether there is a scarcity or not.
So what’s in Test X180?
It’s a relatively simple formula and contains only 4 ingredients; Testofen™, ginseng, Tribulus terrestris, and cordyceps (in addition to a B and D vitamin blend). Before discussing the ingredients in detail, it’s worth noting that a single serving of this product contains 400 mg of ingredients. Why is this important? Well, the advertising states…
“Each serving of Test X180 contains clinically researched levels of Testofen™ the proven, natural fenugreek seed extract that has been shown to help men add pounds of hard, sculpted muscle to their bodies.”
If that’s the case, 300 mg of this formula has to be comprised of Testofen™. This is based on the only supporting published clinical data in existence (which does not support the argument that Testofen™ raises test levels, but I will get to that in a moment).
This essentially renders the rest of the ingredient profile moot, since the remaining ingredients are not going to be present in dosages high enough to do much of anything.
Essentially then, whether this product “works” or not rests entirely on Testofen™.
So let’s take a closer look. What is it?
Testofen™ is a proprietary fenugreek extract marketed by Gencor-Pacific. Gencor-Pacific claims to have clinical data (Wankhede et. al., 2006 “Effect of Testofen™ on safety, anabolic activity and factors affecting exercise physiology), that supports the argument that supplementation leads to “significant” body fat loss and an increase in free testosterone, but to date this study has never been published (and, given that 8 years have passed now, it is likely it will never be).
In-house studies always have to be taken with a hearty dose of skepticism, especially when you consider the people who have the most to gain financially from a positive outcome are the same ones conducting the study.
When we first encountered this ingredient in a men’s libido product, I asked Elissa, our scientific and technical advisor, to have a look at the in-house study and send me her comments. Elissa’s a trained food scientist, and a former research scientist at the University of California at Davis, so she’s well equipped to filter through impressive looking data and deliver the bottom line.
Here are her comments…
A few-odd things leaped out at me on first glance. The first was the usual one: no ranges or “error bars.” An average result is a combination of highs and lows – it cannot be taken to mean that everyone experienced approximately the same result. Ranges give some insight as to individual responses.
The second was that – despite the magnitude of the change in free T between the test and placebo groups, they pretty much ended up in the same place (p. 10). That’s because, on average, the test group started with lower free T.
And (“thirdly”) seriously – no body composition calculations? All they do is give measurements for a couple of skin folds. Why no calculations to determine what these measurements mean in an absolute sense?
Finally, I can see why this hasn’t been published yet. This “study” falls way, way short – no info is given about diet or exercise – just the study duration and supplementation schedule. Were the two groups performing the same workouts? Were there any weight changes (positive or negative) recorded? Were they given any instructions about diet or other counseling? Why did 5 people drop out? Why no discussion (for example, I would have liked to see some discussion of why the placebo group’s free T improved too)?
In addition to the human based study Elissa discusses, Gencor-Pacific also uses a couple of animal-based in-house studies to justify their claims.
In the first study, Testofen™ (5 – 25 mg/kg) increased mounting frequency and other measures of sexual activity.
The second study demonstrated that castrated rats given 25 mg/kg Testofen™ had increases in seminal vesicle, prostate and levator ani muscle weights similar to controls injected with 0.5 mg testosterone.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t jive with the only published clinical study for this ingredient, which concluded that…
“Serum prolactin and testosterone levels remained within the reference range.”
Which essentially means it did not elevate test levels. That’s not to say study participants did not experience positive results. They certainly did…
“… Testofen demonstrated a significant positive effect on physiological aspects of libido.”
So it’s not that Testofen™ does not offer value. It seems to work quite well as a libido booster, something that was confirmed when Elissa ran a small test on her husband, John, using a different Testofen™-based product. (his test levels actually dipped during the test!).
It’s just that it has never been shown to raise either testosterone or free testosterone in any reputable, peer-reviewed, published study.
And that’s the bottom line on Testofen™.
What about the remaining ingredients?
Well, as already noted, they are unlikely to present in a dosage high enough to elicit any effect, and really serve only as label dressing. Regardless, let’s discuss them…
- Tribulus: A flowering plant common in products like this, there’s plenty of anecdotal and animal evidence to suggest it offers a libido boosting effect. But clinical studies confirm it: tribulus does not boost androgen (i.e., test) levels.
- Ginseng: A well known adaptogen, there’s no evidence ginseng can boost test levels. However, it appears to be helpful for treating Erectile Dysfunction. This may be due to the fact that ginsenosides can induce nitric-oxide mediated vasodilation. So there is a valid reason for including it in this formula.
- Cordyceps sinensis: A type of parasitic fungus that grows on caterpillars. “Vegetable Caterpillars” are used in traditional Chinese medicine to strengthen the immune system and increase resistance to stress/fatigue.
Now that you know what’s in it, what’s the bottom line on Force Factor’s Test X180?
It ain’t gonna make you bigger. There will not be slabs of muscle magically bursting out of your frame. If you get bigger while you are on it, it’s because the purchase inspired you to get your diet together and train harder. It certainly has absolutely nothing to do with this product’s androgen-boosting properties.
On the other hand, there’s no reason to believe Test X180 won’t work just fine as a libido booster. If the manufacturer’s claims are to be believed, it contains an appropriate dosage of Testofen, and the additional ingredients – specifically tribulus and ginseng – help support this benefit. If that’s what you’re looking for in a product like this, you could do worse.
The only real issue is the price – Test X180 costs a whopping $69.99 at GNC.
In only a few minutes of searching, I found this product on iHerb.com. It boasts 600 mg of Testofen™, plus 2,000 mg of arginine (another “bedroom-helpful” ingredient – it may help with E.D.), plus tribulus, and a good antioxidant blend. It’s about $52 per month.
Isatori’s Isa-Test (reviewed here) is also significantly cheaper ($37.79) and may be more potent as a libido booster, due to its much larger serving size and more extensive ingredient profile. However, its proprietary label prevents us from determining just how much Testofen it contains.
In the end, it’s not that Test X180 doesn’t offer value to those of you looking for a little extra “umph” in the bedroom. The question is whether it delivers good value.
That’s for you to decide!
If you have used this product, tell us what you thought in the comments!
Just FYI: while they are a bit old at this point, there are a couple of comments on Ripoff report (here and here) that allege this product has been marketed with a negative option billing program. In other words, if you see an offer to try a free sample of this product (just pay shipping and handling) don’t do it; you will probably be added to a recurring billing program. In such a program, you are sent a fresh bottle of product each month, and your card is charged accordingly. These programs are notoriously difficult to unsubscribe from.