Considering Bulbine Natalensis? 40 Facts You NEED To Know
This list has everything you need to know about bulbine natalensis…
… and everything in between.
Some influencers will tell you bulbine natalensis is a natural steroid. They claim astronomical increases in testosterone levels of 300+ percent.
On the flip side:
You may have heard rumors that it can cause some NASTY side effects (Organ damage? Really?).
Is any of it true?
After reading this review, you will be able to make an educated decision about bulbine natalensis. In addition to my normal review of the science, I’ll also be sharing my own experience, thoughts, and recommendations.
Spoiler Alert - My opinion might not be what you want to hear.
Let’s get started.
This article has 40 key points and totals almost 5,000 words. It is a definitive guide. I’ve taken the liberty of dividing it up into sections to make it easier to find what you need.
Part 1 - Defining bulbine natalensis
Part 2 - How does it work as a testosterone booster?
Part 3 - Other Benefits For Men
Part 4 - Other Benefits For Everyone
Part 5 - Side Effects
Part 6 - Bonus: Reddit Questions
Part 7 - Human Dosage
Part 8 - My Opinion And Guidelines
Defining Bulbine Natalensis
1. Where It Comes From
Bulbine natalensis is a plant that has its origin in South Africa.
2. Traditional Uses
It has been used for 1000s of years for other reasons and has only recently gained popularity as a testosterone booster:
- As an aphrodisiac
- Wound healing
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sexual infections
Modern science does give validity to some of these …
… Others, not so much.
3. Also Known As
It goes by several other names depending on which region of South Africa it came from. Other names for include:
4. A Quick Note On ProLensis™
ProLensis™ is a specific standardized extract of bulbine natalensis. It’s regulated for potency and is tightly controlled.
It is the highest-quality extract on the market and is famous for being the product used in research studies.
5. What’s In It
Check out this chart:
Here are the most prominent components:
- Cardiac glycosides
- Naphthalene derivative
6. A Powerful Testosterone Booster
@JimStoppani any opinion on Bulbine Natalensis Doc? Hype or real deal?— Saif Ahmad (@sahmad) September 29, 2014
Can Bulbine natalensis be used as a testosterone booster supplement?
Animal studies indicate it is much more than a simple testosterone booster…
… it’s more like a testosterone rocketship.
One study even found a 346% increase in testosterone levels compared to the control group.study
Let’s put this into perspective.
A man with a testosterone level starting at 200nl/dl would end up around 900ng/dl with an increase of that magnitude.
But don’t head over to Amazon just yet.
This is one study …
… and it was done on rats.
Even though there are other studies that show a reliable increase in testosterone, there are other important considerations.study
Before we dive into those other considerations, let’s look at both the how and the why behind the claim that it’s a powerful testosterone booster.
7. Increase In Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Signaling
Here is the basic cascade and pathophysiology of what happens when you take bulbine natalensis:
- It starts by stimulating the hypothalamus.
- The hypothalamus secretes signaling to a receptor in the anterior pituitary.
- The anterior pituitary regulates the production of LH and FSH.
8. More Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Is Released
LH is the key player in all this.
That’s because LH stimulates the Leydig cells directly.
The Leydig cells are in the testes and they are the cells that produce testosterone.
9. An Increase In Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
So, we have established that bulbine natalensis increases testosterone, but what about DHT?
Mike Mahler puts it best:
“Testosterone’s real offer is its ability to convert into a much stronger male androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT).”
- Mike Mahler
DHT and bulbine natalensis don’t have any direct research, but we know that an increase in testosterone androgens will lead to increased DHT levels.
10. A Decrease In Cortisol
Cortisol is notorious as “the stress hormone”. It is the hormone that is released in our bodies as a response to a threat or stressor.
“a significant negative relationship between C and TT”.
Where “C” is referring to cortisol and “TT” is referring to total testosterone.
A negative relationship means two things:
If total testosterone levels are higher then cortisol levels are lower.
If total testosterone levels are lower then cortisol levels are higher.
Based on this information we can conclude that since it increases testosterone levels, the stress hormone level in our bodies should decrease.
11. A Reduced Estrogen Level
In one of the rat studies, bulbine natalensis decreased estrogen levels by up to 80% (compared to the control).study
The actual results were as follows:
- 79.7% reduction in estrogen (E2) at 25mg/kg bodyweight
- 65.1% less E2 at 50mg/kg bodyweight
- 76.7% reduced E2 at 100mg/kg bodyweight
12. An Increase In Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
In males, FSH has several roles, but it is primarily involved in the regulation of spermatogenesis (aka creation of sperm cells) and also has a key role in “turning boys into men” during puberty.
Research shows that FSH levels are increased in the blood after supplementation with bulbine natalensis.study
13. Blood Sugar Is Normalized
You may have heard terms like “insulin sensitivity” or “insulin resistance” thrown around before. I want to make it clear what these terms mean in the context of testosterone.
Insulin resistance is when the cells in your body start to ignore or resist the hormone insulin.
Insulin sensitivity refers to the relative responsiveness of your cells to insulin after the signaling phase. For example, if you had a high insulin sensitivity, that would mean that your body is very efficient at using insulin in circulation.
It is well established that testosterone levels have a positive correlation with insulin sensitivity.
Anytime blood sugar is elevated testosterone is temporarily reduced. Yet another reason to control carb intake.— Ultimate Performance (@UPFitness) October 7, 2016
Since bulbine natalensis has been shown to increase testosterone levels, we would expect there to be a corresponding increase in insulin sensitivity as well.
This topic is very interesting (at least if you’re a testosterone nerd like me).
Some interesting finds:
15. Other Benefits For Men
In terms of men’s health, we see several other benefits, including:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Testicle health
- Alpha male characteristics
Let’s look at each of these a bit closer.
14. It’s Used As An Aphrodisiac To Increase Libido
“This stuff makes you hornier than a pack of triceratops playing trumpets.”
An increase in libido is the main reason bulbine natalensis had gained so much popularity. The effect it has on sex drive is also the thing that made it so popular in folklore medicine in places like traditional South Africa.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy woo-woo, folklore, and tinfoil hat’s just as much as the next guy, but let’s look at the science.
Unfortunately, the only actual research to date looking specifically at this benefit was conducted on rats.
Annoying, but it’s better than nothing.
Scientists did a good job despite the limitations:
- The fact that this study was conducted on rats
- The fact that libido is difficult to quantify.
They looked at 4 key data points:
- Mounting frequency - How often the male rat gets on top of a female
- Intromission frequency - How often the male inserts himself into the female
- Ejaculatory latency - The amount of time it takes for the male to ejaculate
- Ejaculation frequency - How often the male ejaculates
What I like about this experiment is that they compare results to both a control group and another group taking Sildenafil (aka Viagra).
Here’s what they found:
15. It’s Used For Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Just to be clear, erectile dysfunction is specifically referring to situations where a man has issues with one or both of the following:
Getting an erection firm enough to have sex.
Keeping an erection firm enough to have sex.
Here’s what they found in the research:
“increase in the number of intromissions suggests the enhancement of full erection of male organs.”
“These shows that orally administered B. natalensis extract … may be used to manage erectile dysfunction and desire or arousal disorders in males.”
16. Infertility And Sperm Quality
A 2009 study looked at testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone.
But it didn’t stop there:
The looked at sperm and sperm quality. Specifically, they did measurements before and after supplementation for a variety of quality indicators.
- Sperm motility
- Epididymal sperm count
- Sperm morphology
- Sperm viscosity
In addition to these sperm parameters, they also looked for changes in related anatomy:
- The absolute weight of the epididymis
- Seminal vesicle
When they looked at a cross-section of the testes they found:
“well-preserved seminiferous tubules with normal amount of stroma, normal population of spermatogenic and supporting cells, as well as normal spermatocytes within the lumen.”
The key takeaway here is that all of the above-mentioned variables (for both sperm and sperm related anatomy) didn’t change.
What’s interesting is that even though there was no change in sperm quality, there was still an increased success rate in mating and fertility.
How can this be?
Scientists speculate that the increase in fertility we see here can be attributed to other parameters such as increased libido, male hormones, and frequency of sexual activity.
17. Bigger Testicles
It’s amazing to me how often this topic comes up in my research into testosterone.
Olive oil for example:
It makes sense if you think about it:
External testosterone (from TRT) results in your balls shriveling up. That’s because there is no use for a testosterone factory when your body thinks there is already enough in circulation. The testosterone factory inside your balls simply shuts down.
On the other hand, an increase in internal testosterone production has the opposite effect.
Male hormones are self-regulating through a complex system of feedback loops. Androgen hacking disrupts this system with intentional and targeted manipulation of our prohormonal biology. We send signaling to our testes to amp up production.
The result is an increase in testicle size as an accommodation response to this signaling.
This concept holds true in the case of bulbine natalensis:
“All the doses of the extract increased (P <0.05) the testicular-body weight ratio as well as alkaline phosphatase activity, glycogen, sialic acid, protein, and cholesterol content of the testes except the single administration of 100 mg/kg body weight which compared well (P>0.05) with the controls for glycogen and cholesterol.”study
This herb made its grand introduction to the mainstream when Anthony Roberts wrote an article titled “Bulbine Natalensis Outperforms Viagra” for Iron Magazine back in 2010.
As a result, we see a HUGE spike in interest among the bodybuilding community:
Since then, bodybuilding forums all over the internet have been littered with anecdotal reports claiming varying degrees of effectiveness.
19. Post cycle therapy (PCT)
PCT is a harm reduction measure used by bodybuilders to reregulate hormone levels after a steroid cycle.
It’s interesting to point out that the entire concept of PCT is speculative. I know that sounds crazy because of how accepted it is among steroid users. It may be best practice, but the truth is that there has never been legitimate research done.
Why would there be any research into this concept?
PCT has no legitimate use in medicine. Sure, TRT is an anabolic steroid that has been studied extensively, but it isn’t something that is cycled on and off. Once on TRT, always on TRT, which means PCT is never needed.
That being said -
Bodybuilders in places like Russia and Mexico have been using bulbine natalensis as PCT for years. This practice has only recently become more common in countries like the US and UK.
This increase in popularity may be due in part to the fact that it is non-suppressive. Men use it at all points in and around cycle including mid-cycle, PCT, and bridge.
20. Assertiveness, Dominance & Confidence
It’s no secret that men with high levels of testosterone are more alpha than their hypogonadal counterparts.
My personal experience:
The dominance and aggression I felt when I took bulbine natalensis were more powerful than anything else I’ve ever done to increase my testosterone levels naturally.
I’ve never used steroids, but that experience was exactly how I always imagined steroids would feel.
21. Other Benefits
Bulbine natalensis has a potential use profile that goes way beyond men’s health, bodybuilding, and testosterone.
Here are a few examples.
- Wound healing
- Bacterial infection
Here are the details:
22. Wound healing
The journal of ethnopharmacology published some research that used the gel from bulbine natalensis on the wounds of pigs. They found early collagen re-organization and deposition than placebo.
23. Bacteria infection
It’s kind of crazy this one little herb can do so much.
One study even found that it inhibited 75% of the tests bacterial strains.study
Do we have a new penicillin on our hands?
If you get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, daily testosterone production can drop anywhere from 20% or more— Alexander J.A Cortes (@AJA_Cortes) January 23, 2020
Thats a BIG drop.
How to get better sleep?
-Sleep in total darkness
-stop caffeine past 12pm
-Sleep in a cool room
-NO ELECTRONICS IN THE ROOM
Sleep and testosterone.
Testosterone and sleep.
It’s a classic chicken and egg type situation.
Check this out:
“Men with lower testosterone levels had lower sleep efficiency, with increased nocturnal awakenings and less time in slow-wave sleep as well as a higher apnea-hypopnea index and more sleep time with O2 saturation levels below 90%.”
Meaning men with low-t have a lower quality of sleep than men who have healthy normal levels of testosterone.
We also know that a lack of sleep is the single most important factor for increasing testosterone levels.study
As you might expect, several user reports around the web indicated improvements in quality of sleep after taking bulbine natalensis.
25. Side effects
The question is:
Is bulbine natalensis safe?
Based on research, it is potentially a very dangerous supplement.
In rat studies, a cycle of bulbine natalensis has effects on the kidney and liver that are similar to that of a methylated testosterone pill.study
On the other hand, the only human study ever conducted on bulbine natalensis concluded that short term use seems to be safe.study
Let’s take a look at what PubMed has to say about the potential side effects of bulbine natalensis.
…. Not a side effect.
To date, there have been no reports of gyno development as a direct result of bulbine natalensis supplementation.
It’s used to prevent gyno as discussed above in the PCT section. Estrogen levels are decreased not increased.study
27. Hair loss
I hate to break it to you, but ANYTHING that increases testosterone will also increase the odds of losing your hair.
Testosterone is a precursor to DHT. DHT is a powerful androgen. It’s much more powerful than testosterone. It is one of the main androgens that leads to characteristics that are traditionally considered “male”…
… Including male pattern baldness.
Bring on the razor.
@DU_CoachShaw Not safe, Bulbine Natalensis appears to affect negatively the structure of the liver/kidneys at dosages used to increase testo— NelsonAyotte ChPC,CD (@NelsonAyotte) December 10, 2014
“The extract increased the activities of liver gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine and aspartate aminotransferase (ALT and AST, respectively), and total bilirubin.”study
GGT, ALP, ALT, and AST are enzymes that are found predominantly in liver cells. When liver cells die, they release these enzymes into blood circulation. Therefore, increased levels in the blood are associated with liver damage.
Bilirubin is a bit different. It’s a waste product that comes from red blood cells. Blood cells have a lifespan. It’s normal for old ones to die and new ones to be created every day. A normal healthy liver will destroy these cells and safely dispose of the waste. It’s a process that is always happening.
What’s not normal is when your liver is unable to process this waste (including bilirubin) and as a result bilirubin levels increase.
Increased levels of bilirubin can indicate liver damage, disease, and/or failure, but are not necessarily diagnostic.
This study found a 39% increase in liver parameters in rats taking bulbine natalensis.
That liver study above also looked at various kidney parameters. It seems the kidneys also took a hit, but to a lesser degree than the liver.
There was a 21% increase in the various lab values indicating kidney damage.
30. Weight gain
This is a testosterone booster that is indicated for bulking. A good way to think about its usage is to compare it to how a bodybuilder would use the anabolic steroid Dianabol (AKA DBol).
This is based on anecdotal reports as well as my own experience. it’s not uncommon to see a 3-4lb weight gain by the time you’ve completed the cycle.
Over half of any weight gain during a cycle is typically lost in that first week of stopping. This quick gain and subsequent loss is a strong indication that we are seeing fluctuations in water weight.
If you’re going to risk taking a strong T booster like this, then you should take full advantage of it by optimizing for muscle gain. This means other major areas like diet, heavy lifting, and sleep need to become a priority.
31. Increase In Cholesterol
The increase in cholesterol is well documented.
Specifically, we see an effect on the lipoprotein HDL. HDL is sometimes referred to as “the good cholesterol”, so ideally you would want to see this level increase. Unfortunately, bulbine natalensis has been shown to decrease HDL levels.study
Key takeaway: Don’t take bulbine natalensis if you have any concerns about your cholesterol levels.
32. Twitter And Reddit Questions
I wanted to make sure I covered bulbine natalensis in full.
That’s why I combed through Twitter and Reddit to make sure that all those ‘obscure questions’ were covered.
Here’s what I found:
33. How long does it take to work?
Most men will typically start to notice the subjective physiological effects associated with taking it around the two-week mark. Two to three weeks seems to be the sweet spot.
This reported delayed response also correlates with what we have seen in the rat studies.study
34. Is it a steroid?
Pharmacologically speaking, it is not a steroid.
While bulbine natalensis is not a steroid per se, the matrix of biological effects instantly makes my brain shout - “Roid alert! Roid alert!”
The impact it has on the liver are similar to what you would see taking a methylated oral steroid.
35. Is it Legal?
If you ever have any questions on the legal status of some rare herb or supplement, you can always head over to the DEAs website and find out.
36. When and how often do you take it?
There are 2 parts to this:
- Time of day
We only have one study that was conducted on humans and the daily dosage was split between morning and night. Two times per day is also what Mike Mahler recommends.
The main thing to remember is that consistency is key here. Whatever times you decide to take it, be sure to follow that routine for the extent of supplementation.
This is what Mike Mahler’s recommends -
“8 weeks on 4 off or 4 weeks on and 2 weeks off.”
If you are going to use bulbine natalensis, use Mike’s recommendations. Sustainability and consistent results are what I’m known for - not cycling. I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad, it’s just my preference to not have blood work with lots of peaks and valleys. If you’re going to be using this particular testosterone booster, you need to be checking your labs in the same fashion as a man on steroids or TRT. Talk with your doctor and check your blood work. A CMP, lipid panel, kidney panel, and a hormone panel are a great start.
Manuel Voss has a slightly different approach to cycling:
Yes, you can add also some supplements like boron. Also good is ashwagandha, mucuna pruriens. Maybe the most powerful supplement in my eyes is bulbine natalensis - but you have to cycle it: 30 days on, 30 days of. The most other testosterone supplements are crap— Manuel Voss (@ManuelVoss) January 9, 2019
37. Will it show up in a drug test?
It shouldn’t show up on a traditional drug test. You may see changes in one or more other blood work parameters though:
- Total testosterone
- Free testosterone
- Cholesterol (Total, HDL, and LDL)
- Liver enzymes (AST & ALT)
Some institutions do trend things like testosterone and estrogen as the only means of watching for steroid use and abuse.
38. Human Dosage
What is the best human dosage?
Here is what they concluded:
This helps, but we still need some clarity. That’s because almost half a dozen different forms of the stuff are available for purchase.
Pick your poison:
The correct answer is the extract. Specifically, you must find a product that is made using ProLensis™.
ProLensis™ is the exact preparation that was used in the research we find on NCBI/PubMed. I have no objections to using other forms, but it would be hard to come up with accurate dosage. Above all else, this preparation has been deemed safe for short term use in humans.
My personal experience with it came in the form of Mike Mahler’s aggressive strength. Keep in mind that this is a formulation of traditional testosterone boosting ingredients. ProLensis™ is just one of the ingredients. A discussion of the other ingredients is beyond the scope of this article. I’ve always been a fan of Mike’s work and I did expect to see results, but I was legitimately surprised by how well my body responded.
Here’s a quick review:
As far as dosage goes, I followed the directions exactly as suggested on the bottle.
- Less than 180 lbs: 2 caps per day total. 1 in the morning, 1 at night.
- From 180 to 240 lbs: 3 caps per day total. 2 in the morning, 1 at night.
- 240 lbs+: 4 caps per day total. 2 in the morning, 2 at night.
Here’s the label:
At 215mg of bulbine natalensis per capsule, this translates to a dosage of:
- Less than 180 lbs: 430 mg per day total. 215 mg once in the morning and 215 mg once at night.
- From 180 to 240 lbs: 645 mg per day total. 430 mg once in the morning and 215 mg once at night.
- 240 lbs+: 860 mg per day total. 430 mg once in the morning. 430 mg once at night.
If your looking for a pure ProLensis™ supplement there is one on amazon, but I have never used it and therefore can’t vouch for it.
The effectiveness of this supplement follows a bell-shaped curve. This means that at some point an increase in dosage will result in lower testosterone levels compared to the results you would see had you taken less.
“The parameters of interest were not dose-dependent, and followed a bell curve”
39. Personal Opinion And Guidelines
Is it worth it?
You may not like this but …
… As a general rule, I don’t recommend it.
Here’s the thing:
Bulbine natalensis does work, but the matrix of biological effects mirrors that of an anabolic steroid. This comes with some inherent problems.
Risk - Natural does not always mean safe. Unlike the other strategies I teach, the potential for side effects is high.
Consistency - It’s one of the underlying principles of androgen hacking. The system breaks down when cycles cause mass fluctuations in labs and blood work.
I will say this -
My personal experience with it has been positive overall. I consider it a short term win rather than something sustainable. These days I tend to favor consistency.
If you are looking for a short term solution, then the risks might be worth it to you. Should you decide to give it a try, then you must go about things the right way.
Safety always comes first.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Go to your doctor
Talking with your doctor when considering a change like this should be your first step.
In this case, it’s especially important if any of the following apply to you.
- cardiovascular disease
- kidney problems
- liver disease
2. Blood work
If you opted to skip the doctor (not recommended), getting blood work is a must.
It’s no secret that empirical evidence is a core concept androgen hacking, but this recommendation has nothing to do with biohacking testosterone levels.
Getting blood work done BEFORE cycling bulbine natalensis is a matter of safety.
Here is a minimalist set of ‘safety first’ recommended labs based on scientific literature. This should not be considered medical advice.
If you’re going to be getting blood drawn, you might as well check your T levels.
- Testosterone - Free, Total, or both.
Feel free to use either of the Health Testing Centers coupon codes:
3. Buy ProLensis™ Only
You have two options here.
Which is a proprietary blend that contains ProLensis™ and several other things. It’s one of the most popular testosterone boosters on the market. You can learn more about it in the dosage section of this article, Mike’s website, or Mike’s video:
My preference in androgen hacking is to isolate interventions as much as possible. A pure ProLensis™ is preferable for this case. Full disclosure though, I have not tried this particular product myself. This recommendation based on reviews and popularity. The reason I feel comfortable with recommending it is that ProLensis™ is a patented standardized product. The end product should always be the same regardless of who’s selling it.
4. Ensure Proper Dosage
As discussed above.
5. Repeat Labs
The best time to do this is the last day of your cycle. It is always fun to see how much your testosterone levels increased, but again the main point here is to look for any signs of organ damage.
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Are you thinking about buying bulbine natalensis as a testosterone booster?
Have you used it before? What were your results?
If you would like to learn more about the unique approach of androgen hacking, you can use the form below to get the basic blueprint.
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The EXACT steps I used to increase my T from 412ng/dl To 923ng/dl - Without TRT
Thanks for reading.
David Becker, RN, CCRN