The Science of How to Optimize Testosterone & Estrogen

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In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses the hormones testosterone and estrogen and how they impact the brain, body, and behavior at ages after puberty. He also discusses how various behaviors such as exercise (resistance and endurance training) and sex or observing sex impact these hormones and their levels. He asks: “what specifically is it about such activities that impact testosterone and estrogen?”; the resounding theme is that when our nervous system is activated in particular ways, it drives our endocrine system and vascular system to activate or repress certain hormone networks in predictable ways. He also discusses peer-reviewed studies and protocols addressing (at a mechanistic level) how light, cold and heat and respiration (breathing) can positively or negatively impact testosterone and estrogen. And we discuss specific supplements and compounds that peer-reviewed studies illustrate can adjust testosterone and estrogen levels: by changing their binding to other proteins, by raising them directly, or by changing other hormones released from the brain and pituitary. Dr. Huberman discusses optimization in the normal reference ranges for these hormones and discusses pheromones, apnea, menstrual cycles, menopause and andropause. As always, a mix of basic science, biological mechanisms and tools and protocols are discussed.



  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:05:50 Hormone Optimization
  • 00:07:00 Salutogenesis: A Powerful Way to Conceptualize Health
  • 00:10:03 Estrogen and Testosterone: Sources, Levels & Ratios
  • 00:15:46 The Power of Competition, Plus: Anxiety, Persistence & Dopamine
  • 00:20:58 Testosterone & Libido Pre-Ovulation
  • 00:21:48 Estrogen & Sexual Receptivity; Libido In Males
  • 00:23:10 How Sex Behavior Impacts Testosterone: Observing vs. Actual vs. Abstinence
  • 00:26:46 Testosterone & Prolactin: Sex Seeking vs Pair Bonding
  • 00:27:30 DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone): Effects on Levels/Ratios
  • 00:28:45 Behaviors That Decrease Testosterone (& Cortisol): Parenting & Prolactin
  • 00:31:24 How Illness Impacts Testosterone & Estrogen: Cytokines, e.g., IL-6
  • 00:33:20 How Exactly Do Behaviors Change Hormones?
  • 00:34:18 Pheromones: Miscarriage, Menstrual Cycles, Puberty Onset, & Mate Recognition
  • 00:43:33 Apnea: A Powerful Bi-Directional Influence On Estrogen & Testosterone
  • 00:47:44 Mouth vs. Nose Breathing & Hormone Levels: Effects Via Sleep and Direct Effects
  • 00:51:11 How Sleep Adjusts Cortisol/Testosterone and Cortisol/Estrogen Ratios
  • 00:53:49 02:CO2 Ratios, Nasal Breathing During Exercise
  • 00:56:30 Light Viewing Patterns & Hormones: Dopamine, GnRH
  • 00:57:44 Spring Fever: Tyrosinase, Hair Color, Mating Frequency
  • 01:04:39 Specificity of Hormone Effects
  • 01:06:03 Temperature: Cold & Hot Gonads
  • 01:14:10 How To Exercise: Types, Effort Level, Sequencing
  • 01:21:42 Cardio/Endurance vs. Resistance Training (First or Last?) Yes, It Matters
  • 01:24:41 Estrogen & Menopause: Compounds That May Ameliorate/Reverse Symptoms
  • 01:33:18 Nutrients That Optimize The Foundation For Hormones
  • 01:36:00 Opioids as Severe Hormone Disruptors
  • 01:37:23 Testes, Antlers & Ovaries
  • 01:38:50 Creatine & Increasing DHT (Dihydrotestosterone)
  • 01:40:14 Free and Bound Testosterone: SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin), Tongat Ali
  • 01:43:23 Nettles, Prostate, Boron, & Blood Brain Barrie
  • 01:45:27 Hormone Related Cancers: Sometimes Reducing Estrogen and Testosterone Is Optimal
  • 01:47:43 Ecdysteroids: Mimic Mammalian Hormones
  • 01:51:50 Optimizing Brain Hormones: Chorionic Gonadatropin, Fadogia Agrestis
  • 01:57:18 Additional Compounds, Liver Toxicity, Overall Milieu
  • 01:59:17 Summary: And Note About Additional Related Topic Coverage Coming