What do you get if you have a vast number of aging, overweight men whose libidos are dropping faster than a free falling skydiver?
That’s right… an opportunity to make some money!
Call me skeptical, but that’s the first thing I thought when I checked out TruDerma’s Troxyphen…
“A unique weight loss supplement designed to specifically address the underlying cause of male weight gain; low testosterone.”
While suggesting that low testosterone is the underlying cause of male weight gain is one heck of a stretch (the underlying cause of male weight gain is the over consumption of calories, same as for everybody else!), it is true that typically, men with high BMIs (Body Mass Index) have low testosterone levels.
It is also true that treating obese men with testosterone causes them to lose weight.
But while Troxyphen’s claim suggests men are fat because of low testosterone levels, this study reports…
“Obese men are characterized by a progressive decrease of testosterone levels with increasing body weight…”
In other words, testosterone levels decline the more overweight you get. You didn’t necessarily become overweight because your “T” levels were low, even if your levels are low now.
One thing I would recommend to any man considering this product is this; get your testosterone levels checked when you have bloodwork done next. There’s no point assuming you have low T levels – you have to confirm it. The typical symptoms attributed to low test levels (low libido, weight gain, fatigue, sluggishness, etc) can also be attributed to a million other things, including diet, lack or exercise and / or sleep. So don’t assume… confirm.
While this may shed some light on the veracity of Troxyphen’s mission statement, it doesn’t do you any good now, if you are currently overweight and have confirmed you have low test levels.
You want to know… should I take Troxyphen, and will it help me lose weight?
Well, despite the fact that we have established that treating obese men with testosterone helps them lose weight, there’s no reason to believe this product will do the same – unless you accompany it with the necessary diet and lifestyle changes, which make supplementation with Troxyphen unnecessary anyhow.
The problem is that Troxyphen is not testosterone, nor does it contain any.
It contains natural herbal compounds that “elevate” the body’s natural production of the stuff.
The problem is that even for those compounds which have been “clinically proven” to elevate testosterone levels (and the clinical data is often animal-based or conducted “in-house”) it doesn’t elevate it very much – certainly not to the sort of levels necessary to facilitate dramatic levels of weight loss.
With this product, there’s also the not inconsequential issue of dosage; how much of the critical ingredients are actually present?
Natural herbal compounds are not unlike pharmaceutical drugs in that they need to be properly standardized and included at an effective dosage if they are to deliver an effect.
From what I can tell from the Troxyphen label, it is the only ingredient in the “test boosting blend” for which the dosage is disclosed. It’s present at a 300 mg per day dosage, which incidentally, is exactly half the amount used in this clinical study, which, despite demonstrating positive “quality of life” scores “in self-reported satisfaction with muscle strength, energy and well-being”, reported…
“Serum prolactin and testosterone levels remained within the reference range.”
In other words, it didn’t raise testosterone levels in any significant manner.
The makers of Testofen claim 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 7 years have passed, it is likely it will never be).
Now is a good time to remind our readers what “significant” means in the content of clinical studies. It means “statistically significant” which does mean what you think it does – incredible, or dramatic results. It means “unlikely to have happened by chance.” Big difference, huh?
However, it is available online, so we can review it to check for methodological flaws, or to see if the conclusions are justified.
I asked Elissa, our scientific and technical advisor (she’s a former research scientist at the University of California at Davis) to have look. Her comments are as follows…
“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 placebo group started with lower free T.
And (“thirdly”) seriously – no body composition calculations? All they do is give unitless (a huge no-no) measurements for skin folds and girths. 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)?”
As you can see, the clinical data upon which Testofen’s incredible testoterone-boosting effects is not all appears to be. And of course, there is no independent clinical data to support this assertion, we have to take all conclusion with a rather large grain of salt, given the rather large financial conflict of interest present.
So what’s all this really mean?
Well, it’s difficult to support the argument that your product can boost test levels to the point that they aid weight loss when your key ingredient is not support by anything resembling “rigorous” clinical data.
Let’s take a close look at the complete formula. A two-capsule daily dose contains a “Test boosting blend” and a “Thermogenic Shred Blend”.
A 2-cap dose of the “Test boosting blend” offers up 500 mg of the following ingredients…
- Testofen: The fenugreek-derived compound we’ve already discussed. There’s 300 mg in a daily 2 capsule serving, which means there’s a middling 200 mg left to be divided up among the remaining ingredients.
- Arginine: This amino acid is a substrate for an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase. This is the enzyme which is responsible for converting arginine into nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide causes vasodilation, which essentially means it dilates the arteries, which means they expand to allow greater blood flow. Arginine is likely included here because its use has been tied to an improvement in male performance. Unfortunately studies showing such improvement were conducted at doses 10X greater than the entire test-boosting blend; 5,000 mg daily and beyond. In this formula therefore, arginine serves as little more than label dressing.
- Tribulus: Also known as Puncture vine, when it comes to herbal “test” boosters, tribulus is as old as the hills. This, despite the fact that studies show it has no effect on steroid hormone levels. What it does have, however, is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting a significant libido-boosting effect – something not borne out by clinical studies, although some animal studies verify such an effect. While this would be a welcome benefit for most men genuinely suffering from low testosterone, it is uncertain whether this product will elicit such an effect, since the dosage and potency are unknown and likely to be much too low.
- The remainder of the formula contains what can only be a sprinkling of the following: Potency Wood Extract, Saw palmetto extract, Potency Wood Extract again, this time listed under its other commonly known name, “Muria Puama”, and DHEA. Of the three ingredients included here, two have no supporting evidence validating their use for testosterone function, and one (DHEA), has been proven not effective for boosting test levels.
Now let’s take a look at the “Thermogenic Shred Blend”. It contains 223 mg of the following…
- Caffeine (200mg): Yawn. Your common, run of the mill stimulant found in every weight loss pill on the planet. Sure, there’s some clinical data validating a mild effect on the metabolism (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97, Am J Physiol. 1995 Oct;269(4 Pt 1):E671-8), but its effects are mild at best. It does provide a mild boost of energy many people find beneficial.
- Synephrine (20 mg): Yawn 2.0. Why synephrine is included in weight loss products anymore is beyond me; while it may offer mild appetite suppressing effects, clinical data supporting its use for weight loss is inconclusive, or it shows only the mildest of effects.
- Yohimbine (3 mg): The active constituent in the bark of the African Yohimbe tree, this ingredient likely plays double duty here; it is used to treat erectile dysfunction, as well as having potential applications for weight loss. Don’t excited though – the studies on weight loss were at best promising, and conducted with doses many time higher than included here. This study for example, used 20 mgs daily – almost 7 times the amount included in this formula.
Ok, now that we know what’s in it, what’s the verdict?
The testosterone boosting element of this formula very much rests on its Testofen content, and we’ve seen how robust the science is for it (it also appears to be seriously under dosed, as well). Other ingredients in the “Test Boosting Blend” may help slightly with libido, but with no dosage information revealed, it’s hard to know for sure.
The “Thermogenic Shred Blend” will probably give you a nice kick of “artificial” energy, but unless you start eating right and hitting the gym a little more often, the only thing that’s going to be any “lighter” is your wallet.
Considering the cost ($60 for a month’s supply at GNC), I’d be looking for a significantly more robust formula – with useful ingredients, included in helpful dosages.
But that’s just my opinion.