Finally, the part you’ve been waiting for, how to decrease or increase your DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
As a quick recap, in the first article, we detailed some of the basics of DHT and why it is important. Click here to read part one.
Then in the second part, we covered how and why DHT has been implicated in male pattern baldness, prostate issues, and acne. Click here to read part two.
Please read these and make sure you understand the main points, before diving into how to decrease or increase DHT. As covered in previous articles, in many cases blood levels are the only amounts that are typically measured.
These do not give you the full picture because local tissue amounts appear to be important. That being said, this doesn’t mean that these interventions are not worth experimenting with.
Lifestyle Interventions to Increase DHT
Losing Body Fat
Higher testosterone levels are associated with lower body fat count. Part of this is that body fat may increase aromatization, the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. But what about DHT specifically?
Well, with less total testosterone available you’d have less that could convert to DHT in the first place.
Furthermore, it appears that abdominal fat increases an enzyme, known as aldoketoreductases 1C (AKR1C). This enzyme then converts DHT into an inactive form with the crazy name – 5α-androstane-3α/β 17β-diol (3α/β-diol). This was found in lesser amounts in leaner men.
Losing fat is not only about hormone health, but it absolutely plays an important role here.
Resistance training has long been associated with greater testosterone levels. For the reasons listed above, this is enough reason to engage in the practice.
But a small study looked at DHT levels inside the muscles themselves. While the older men had lower levels of DHT to start with, compared to younger men, 12-weeks of resistance training increased these significantly.  I find this especially interesting because it looked at levels in the muscles themselves, by doing biopsies, rather than merely serum levels.
Sprinting has been found to increase total testosterone, free testosterone, and DHT serum levels five minutes after exercise. These then all returned to baseline after an hour. 
Another study supports this. Specifically, they tested different intensities of exercise. Exercise at 90% VO2Max (peak oxygen uptake), but not 40% or 70% increased DHEA, free testosterone and DHT serum levels in both athletes and non-athletes. Some of these increased at lower intensities but only near max effort did it affect everything. 
This provides another reason to do some all-out exercise over the more common cardio work. When it comes to hormone health, high-intensity sprint work (or equivalents) far out-performs the longer slower distance cardio.
Supplements and Herbs that Raise DHT
This one is pretty obvious, and several studies were mentioned in part 1. The use of DHT gel or injections dramatically increased DHT.
Supplementation with the hormone DHEA was found to increase all steroid hormones, including DHT. This study was in early and late postmenopausal women. 
Based on the “morning wood effect” and much else that Pine Pollen does, including seeming to upregulate DHEA, androstenedione, and testosterone too, my guess is that it will affect DHT levels. Possibly in the blood. Possibly just locally in the genitals. Possibly both. The androsterone it contains could also be converted. Unfortunately, there is no science on this as of yet, not even a rat study, so this is merely a hypothesis but one for which there is some strong anecdotal evidence.
I could not locate any studies that looked specifically at DHT with Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) usage. However, based on a systematic review, finding there’s been a good number of quality studies done with men around sexual health, it is likely to have an impact here. 
Tribulus has found an increase in DHT (as well as testosterone) in both primates and rats. 
A study on infertile men looked at parameters of semen quality. Here they found that a component inside of Tribulus, protodioscin, converted testosterone into DHT. This led to increased sperm quality and serum DHT, but no changes in any of the other hormones measured. 
Dioscorea is a plant genus of which Wild Yam is one member. Yam contains the compound diosgenin, which is structurally similar to DHEA.
In an interesting study with type-1 diabetic rats, supplementation with both dioscorea or diosgenin increased DHEA levels. However, a 5α-reductase inhibitor blocked these effects. Since this enzyme blocks the conversion of testosterone into DHT, it is curious that it also occurred here.
If indeed diosgenin increases DHEA then this would likely have an impact on both testosterone and DHT. But even if just DHEA was boosted that would be helpful as this too is an important hormone. Wild Yam can be found inside of Stag Swag.
A case study of a Thai man, aged 35, who complained of increased sexual drive. Blood samples indicated a DHT level of 1512 pg/mL which is high. After looking at what could be causing it, it was found that the local herb Butea Superba had been ingested. After ceasing to take this DHT returned to normal as did sexual drive. 
This is just a single case study. And sometimes (many times?) herbs are adulterated with other things including pharmaceutical drugs. So this does need to be taken with a grain of salt. That being said there is also plenty of anecdotal evidence around this herb too.
A short term study (one week), with only six male subjects who took 10 mg boron daily. This increased free testosterone, but not total, and decreased estradiol significantly. DHT was also elevated, but not significantly. 
A small group of infertile men were dosed with zinc. The first group of 22 men, who had the lowest T, under 480 ng/dL) saw increases in T, DHT and sperm count and became fertile with wives becoming pregnant. The second group of 15 men, with T above 480 ng/dL, had DHT increase but not T or sperm count. In this group, no pregnancies were observed. 
A small study with college Rugby players in South Africa noted a significant increase in DHT levels, but not testosterone.  This study needs replication, as other studies have found slight increases in testosterone but not looked at DHT.
A study shows that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) is needed for 5-alpha reductase to convert testosterone into DHT.  NADH, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is the active form of vitamin B3, which is converted into NADPH. Vitamin B1 also helps support making this molecule. So having sufficient supplies of these two vitamins, and likely much else is necessary to have the body make DHT.
A rat study showed that caffeine in water, over longer periods of time increased DHT over 50%, while also increasing prostate size.  Now we switch gears and look at methods that may be responsible, at least in part, for lowering DHT levels.
Lifestyle Interventions to Decrease DHT
Calorie restriction is a proven anti-aging strategy. Yet, we do see that with it comes declines in many of the sex hormones. In one study, 24 men that had been practicing calorie-restricted diets for an average of 7.4 years were found to have less total and free testosterone, with higher SHBG.  DHT was not measured but based on the testosterone levels, there was a good chance it was lower too.
The only study I could find that actually measured the DHT was in rats and it did find suppressed DHT with a calorie-restricted diet. 
Low Carb Consumption
Just a mouse study, but a low carb diet was associated with 58% DHT as those on a “Western diet”. 
Though I can say this may be supported by some of my own personal experiences. When experimenting with a ketogenic diet I did feel like my libido took a nosedive. Whether that was because of DHT, I can’t say for sure, but it’s entirely possible.
According to several studies, it appears that many fats, most notably monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, have androgen regulating activity.  It appears that many of these fats can inhibit the 5AR enzyme.
Yet, on the other side, many fats are necessary for hormone health so I wouldn’t go ditching them completely.
Regular Alcohol Consumption
Science is unusual. In this study, they gave alcohol to eight baboons for a year and compared them to a teetotaling group. They also compared this to humans with alcoholic liver disease.
“This study demonstrates that chronic alcohol use decreases the function of the enzyme which controls an important rate-limiting step in the metabolism of testosterone in the liver and that this effect may be due primarily to alcohol.” 
But this is looking at just 5AR activity in the liver, so it’s hard to say alcohol’s effects on the rest of the body.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
Many pesticides are shown to reduce 5AR activity.  Other man-made chemicals are antiandrogenic as well, such as phthalates.
For more info, read this detailed article about endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Supplements and Herbs that Lower DHT
Fenugreek, also known as Trigonella foenum-graecum, has long been used for libido, glucose management, as well as increasing women’s milk production.
Despite helping with libido, fenugreek supplementation was found to lower DHT, but no other hormones, 9.42% in resistance-trained men.  Another study with 30 men, found that a fenugreek extract, increased testosterone and bioavailable testosterone, but DHT did not change.
Saw Palmetto has long been the number one herb in reducing BPH symptoms, even though the science on that is unsettled. And if it is doing so, it doesn’t seem to be because of serum levels of DHT. In a week-long study, an extract of saw palmetto (known as Permixon) did not change DHT levels. 
Nettle root can help support a healthy prostate. This seems to be its most popular attribute. It is likely because of these effects and the earlier (wrong) science regarding DHT that it was pigeon-holed into affecting this hormone.
According to research, it does have some 5AR inhibition activity, but this is not overly strong.  I believe there is far more going on than this component in how it helps the prostate and hormone health overall.
Reishi and Other Mushrooms
I mention this one because sometimes medicinal mushrooms scare some people off. I first wrote about this a few years back in this article, but here is a summary.
Reishi, along with 18 other medicinal and edible mushrooms, were measured for 5AR inhibiting activity. Reishi was found to have the highest activity, but also up there are shiitake and oyster mushrooms. 
This was a cellular and rat study looking at prostate issues. There is much more going on than simply reducing DHT, like the reduction of estrogen receptors too. 
Cistanche may positively affect DHT levels based on its effects, which from TCM includes directing blood flow to the pelvic region, sexual potency and more. Unfortunately, there is no human data on this. In rats, cistanche extracts do have the ability to increase testosterone, however, another study found that DHT was decreased in serum along with prostate size.
This one seems to be a stretch if you look at the actual research, even though many people on the internet are touting it for its DHT effects. In fact, several people seem to be reading the research wrong and saying it will increase DHT (or maybe I’m somehow missing the picture).
A supercritical CO2 extract of sorghum (Oryza sativa) had 5AR inhibiting activity in vitro, on a prostate cancer cell line.
Lots of Other Compounds…Possibly
Without going into the research around all of these, there are many other compounds that have been shown to have some 5AR inhibiting activity. Some of these are in vitro, others in rats, almost none in men.
• Flavonoids (such as quercetin, myricetin)
• Black Pepper
• Beta-sitoserol (found in avocado, nuts, seeds, nettle root)
• Azelaic acid (found in many grains)
• ECGC (found in green tea)
• Curcumin (Turmeric)
• DIM (found in cruciferous vegetables)
• Lignans (found in flax seeds and many grains)
I also share this to point out that some people jump to conclusions, like with some of the herbs. Remember we saw that polyunsaturated fats had these same effects too. So are you going to avoid all PUFAs? it looks like a whole lot of things have 5AR inhibiting activity. We even see that or inhibition of DHT in well known sexual function herbs like Ginseng and Cistanche.
This is why I say we are far from having a complete picture on hormone health, especially DHT.
To conclude, if you find that you seem to be sensitive to 5AR inhibition, as some of our customers have told us they are, then you might want to be careful around these herbs. As always, experiment to find what works for you.
But otherwise, just focus on being healthy in general and I think your DHT will largely take care of itself. After three articles, 64 citations and almost 6000 words, this is my conclusion on DHT.
SHOP MALE HORMONE HERBS…
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As a performing strongman he once pulled an 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair, juggled a kettlebell that was lit on fire, supported half a ton on top of himself in a wrestler’s bridge position, and routinely bends horseshoes and rips decks of cards in half.
Acclaimed as both a visionary and breakthrough author, Logan has written countless works on natural living, culminating in his self-proclaimed magnum opus, "Powered By Nature - How Nature Improves Our Happiness, Health and Performance.” Says longevity guru Peter Ragnar of the work "His passion is contagious! His words fire one's spirit to reconnect with nature's intelligence."
He is Co-Founder and CEO of Lost Empire Herbs, which aims to bring performance herbalism into everyday people’s lives.
When Logan isn't working to save the planet and transform modern herbalism, he busies himself as a consultant to the space program. In his spare time he enjoys memorizing the Fibonacci sequence and bowling perfect games.
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- DHT’s Role in Prostate Issues, Hair Loss and Acne: Part II - September 26, 2019
- The Basics and Benefits of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): Part I - September 19, 2019
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