Human Study: OTC Supplement Doubles T-Levels & Boosts Erections More Than Tadalafil - Too Good to Be True?

Just to make sure you don't suffer from withdrawl symptoms until Adelfo posts the next update on his current contest prep, I thought I'd share a photo that shows where he is currently at - not bad for someone of whom a handful of you have been shocked to hear that he eats at least 200g carbs per day and ice-cream almost every evening, right?
It's Thursday and before I'll get to a question on a very recent study I received via the SuppVersity Facebook page, I will brief you on the line-up of today's installment of the SuppVersity Science Round-Up on the Super Human Radio Network. By now, most of you should actually be familiar with the modus operandi: In case you cannot listen live at 1PM EST, you can always download the show ~2h later either from the "Physical Culture for Your Ears" menu in the sidebar of the SuppVersity, or right over at - obviously, you can also wait for tomorrow's SuppVersity Science Round-Up Seconds, in which I am providing some additional information on things we have discussed and post selected topics that did not make it into the show.

Apropos topics, the first topic we are going to address does actually pertain to the second part of this post and revolves around a recently published paper by Fabrizio Iacono et al. whose results do - just as SuppVersity reader Mark, who pointed me towards this article, says - look "too good to be true".

Now, upon closer scrutiny it turns out that they may well be "true", but are not just as "good" as they may initially look like. From this testosterone-laden topic we are then going to proceed with topics revolving around male and female longevity, optimal workout types and intensities for different trainees, the health effects of garlic, colostrum and chocolate and related topics.

I could mention more, but am afraid that this will just increase the risk of rushing through the items too quickly. Optimally, you just tune in live and pick up the rest in "print" in tomorrow's SuppVersity Science Round-Up Seconds!

200% increase in total and 130% increase in free testosterone

Just a reminder: Taurine has also (rodent) data showing up to 180% increases in testosterone and that's not exclusively in the sick and old.
This subheading sounds as if I was to pimp the "revolutionary new testbooster" by "whatever company" that will get you muscular and ripped in no time, right? Well, in the end it could well be the text of an advertisement, yet not one from any of the usual suspects but rather one for TRADAMIX®, a blend of "three natural substances with an 'anti-aging' effect on the tissues of the male genitourinary apparatus" (Tradapharma Sagl. 2012) - I know, without the usual "-bols", "-diols", or at least some indirect references to illegal anaobolic substances in the product name, this does not sound like it would work, but the +200% increas in total and +130% increase in free testosterone are for real and documented in a peer-reviewed study involving seventy patients (67.3± 3.7 years) with stable marital relations and reduced libido, with or
without erectile dysfunction who received either the infamous PDE-5 inhibitor Tadalafil (5mg/day) or two servings of the aforementioned 'testicular anti-aging supplement' (Iacono. 2012).

But before we even get to the testosterone levels, let's tackle the main problem of these guys and the actual research interest of the scientists from the University “Federico II” of Naples in Italy first. After all, the main outcome of the study at hand were the improvements in sexual desire and erectile function and those were almost identical in both groups - from 16 to 33 and 16 to 31, in the supplement vs. drug groups, respectively. If you go by the results of the international index of erectile function (IIEF) questionnaire (see figure 1, left), on the other hand, the dietary supplement yielded actually outperformed the blockbuster prescription drug by almost 10%:
Figure 1: Results of international index of erectile function (IIEF) questionnaire and RigiScan (device to measure penile tumescence and rigidity continuously that's used to differentiate vascular from psychogenic erectile dysfunction) before and after 2 months of treatment with Tradamixina and Tadalafil (Iacono. 2012).
What's probably even more impressive, though, are the differential effects of Tradamixina vs. Tadalafil on the RigiScale values (see figure 1, right). The RigiScale is an etablished means to differentiate psychogenic from organ-related (vascular) erectile dysfunction (Basar. 2001) and the fact that there was a significant reduction of RigiScale positive subjects in the Tradamixina group does already suggest a possible reason for the initially mentioned 200% increase in total and 130% increase in free testosterone (see figure 2).
Figure 2: Total and free testosterone levels before and after the administration of Tradamaxine (2 servings per day) or Tadalafil (2mg/day) to Seventy patients (67.3± 3.7 years) with stable marital relations and affected by reduced libido for 2 months (data based on Iacono. 2012)
What this underlying reason is? Well, probably reduced systemic inflammation, which leads to reductions in cortisol, blood glucose, insulin resistance, oxidative damage to the testes etc. and thus simply facilitates the restoration of normal testosterone levels.

If you know how google works, it'll take you maybe 5 minutes and a credit card and you'll have a couple of pounds of the ingredients right on the way to your doorstep.
Yep, you heard me right: A boost of +200% just brought those guys who started with 10ng/dl below the already way too broad normal range from 260-1080ng/dl (values may vary from lab to lab) in a quasi hypogonadal state, back to midrange levels of 680ng/dl.
Real world implications for healthy young men: The chance that a healthy, fit individual with normal testosterone levels would see a boost of 200% in his total or 130% in his free testosterone levels is not low, it is simply ZERO!
Notwithstanding, Tradamixina (or rather its ingredients) is actually more than just a cilialis alternative. While the latter is a short term solution to get rid of the symptoms of an underlying disease, the combination of Ecklonia Cava, tribulus, and d-glucosamine + n-acetyl-d-glucosamine could actually tackle the most frequent cause of erectile dysfunction, which is the triad of inflammation, insulin resistance and arteriosclerosis (for more details see info-box to the right).

So how does this stuff work? Although investigations into the mechanism by which the provision of Tradamaxine did work its magic was actually not part of the study, it's actually not difficult to hypothesize what may be the underlying cause of these unquestionably astonishing results. Firstly, the brown algae Ecklonia Bicyclis (better known as Ecklonia Cava!)of which each serving has 150mg has a very high content of sterols, polyphenols and tannins and is probably the main active ingredient of a formula which includes 396mg of tribulus and 144mg of d-glucosamine and n-acetyl-d-glucosamine as a 'support'. The phlototannins 7-phloro eckol and 6,6′-bieckoll that have been isolated from Ecklonia, a marine brown algae which has been used for centuries in traditional medicine in Asia, are more or less unique with respect to the potency of their antioxidant activity (Li. 2009). In conjunction with tribulus, d-glucosamine and n-acetyl-d-glucosamine, which also exhibit a certain degree of anti-inflammatory activity, a decrease in systemic inflammation is the most likely cause of the profound pro-sexual and pro-hormonal effects of this blend, which is yet by no means as unique as the producers would have it.
Bottom line: It is no coincidence that erectile dysfunction has been identified as a "harbinger of cardiovascular clinical events" (Thompson. 2005) and "a sentinel event for CAD [coronary artery disease]" (Irekpita. 2009). So if you are in the unlucky situation to suffer from vascular (and not physogenic) erectile dysfunction, and had the choice between a drug that will ameliorate the symptoms, i.e. Tadalafil, or a supplement that will treat the underyling cause, the decision for the supplement and against the lifestyle drug should be obvious, right?

Still, there is one, ... no, actually there are two things I would like to ask you, before you run all spiked up to the next best supplement shop: Firstly, how accurate would you say is the authors' claim that there was "no conflict of interest", if no one else, but the lead author of the study, has been granted a patent on the formula on April 4th, 2012 (US2012/089722 A1)? And secondly, do you really believe that it is a mere coincedence that the researchers deliberate use the hardly known appellation Ecklonia Bicyclis for a brown algae all of you probably know as Ecklonia Cava (see "Ecklonia Cava Polyphenols Help Shed Weight Even in The Presence of a Slight Caloric Surplus") throughout the whole paper without mentioning once that it is better known as "Ecklonia Cava"? I am well aware that studies are expensive and need to be financed and I am by no means suggesting that the results are - as Mark suspected - "too good to be true" (remember. the men were hypogonadal to begin with), but this paper does still have a somewhat peculiar aftertaste.

  • Basar MM, Atan A, Tekdogan UY. New concept parameters of RigiScan in differentiation of vascular erectile dysfunction: is it a useful test? Int J Urol. 2001 Dec;8(12):686-91.
  • Iacono F, Prezioso D, Illiano E, Romeo G, Ruffo A, Amato B. Sexual asthenia: Tradamixina versus Tadalafil 5 mg daily. BMC Surg. 2012 Nov 15;12 Suppl 1:S23.
  • Irekpita E, Salami TA. Erectile dysfunction and its relationship with cardiovascular risk factors and disease. Saudi Med J. 2009 Feb;30(2):184-90. 
  • Li Y, Qian ZJ, Ryu B, Lee SH, Kim MM, Kim SK. Chemical components and its antioxidant properties in vitro: an edible marine brown alga, Ecklonia cava. Bioorg Med Chem. 2009 Mar 1;17(5):1963-73.
  • Thompson IM, Tangen CM, Goodman PJ, Probstfield JL, Moinpour CM, Coltman CA. Erectile dysfunction and subsequent cardiovascular disease. JAMA. 2005 Dec 21;294(23):2996-3002. 
  • Tradapahrm Sagl. Tradamix. 2012 < > retrieved on 11/29/2012.
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