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Huberman Lab

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Apr 12, 2021

This episode I discuss the hormones testosterone and estrogen and how they impact the brain, body, and behavior at ages after puberty. I also discuss how various behaviors such as exercise (resistance and endurance training) and sex, or observing sex impact these hormones and their levels. I ask: "what specifically is it about such activities that impacts 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. I also discuss 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. I discuss optimization in the normal reference ranges for these hormones, and I discuss pheromones, apnea, menstrual cycles, menopause and andropause. As always a mix of basic science, biological mechanisms and tools and protocols are discussed.

**Note: Future episodes will focus on the science of prescription hormone replacement therapies, the science of hormone-based birth control and the role of testosterone, estrogen and other compounds in fertility, athletic performance and recovery.


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  • 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 Barrier
  • 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


Please note that The Huberman Lab Podcast is distinct from Dr. Huberman's teaching and research roles at Stanford University School of Medicine. The information provided in this show is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. The Huberman Lab Podcast, its employees, guests and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.

[Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac]