In ancient times, honey was considered an aphrodisiac virtually everywhere it was found. Apart from its pleasing sweetness which certainly puts many people in a good mood, there is also some evidence to support its stimulating reputation.
In particular, there is some evidence to suggest that honey can boost testosterone levels. Although much of the research is limited to animal studies, preliminary evidence suggests honey has a positive impact on testosterone levels, which may partly account for its romantic associations.
Numerous studies on male rats and one study on human males have found that oral administration of honey increases serum testosterone levels. The effect ranged from positive to no change, however no negative impacts on testosterone were observed. There are several ways in which this effect may occur:
- In a study conducted on rats, honey was found to have a positive impact on luteinizing hormone, which increases testosterone levels.
- Another study found that honey had a protective impact on various kinds of testicular tissue in rats. Honey and other bee products were also found to be protective against testicular damage. This would positively influence testosterone production.
- Honey contains various phenolic compounds which exert a protective effect against free radicals. Free radicals within testicular tissue may reduce testosterone synthesis. Antioxidant-rich honey may enhance testosterone production by enhancing the antioxidant defense mechanism.
- Chrysin (a particular flavonoid present in honey) and propolis, are potent inhibitors of an enzyme, aromatase. This enzyme is key to the conversion of testosterone to estradiol and consumption of chrysin-rich honey may reduce this effect and increase serum testosterone as a result.
- Various phenolic and flavonoid compounds in honey are known to have a positive impact on serum testosterone. Quercetin, caffeic acid, ellagic acid, rosmarinic acid, p-coumaric acid and ferulic acid have been found to enhance serum testosterone.
Although these results are preliminary, they provide some evidence that honey may boost testosterone levels and have a positive impact on libido, perhaps thereby accounting for its centuries-old aphrodisiac reputation.
Banihani, Saleem Ali. "Mechanisms of honey on testosterone levels." Heliyon 5, no. 7 (2019): e02029.