Chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone) is a naturally occurring bioflavonoid extracted from the plant Passiflora coerulea. In the early 1980’s it was found to have the ability to inhibit the conversion of testosterone into estrogens by inhibiting the enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase inhibiting drugs (Arimidex) have been traditionally used to treat women with estrogen dependant breast cancers, as estrogens are produced in fat cells via these enzymes in a process called aromatisation. The use of these inhibitors are however becoming more popular in aging men seeking to gain control over their sex hormone levels, suppressing excess estrogen production while boosting low testosterone levels to a youthful state.
Declining testosterone in aging males can be the result of several factors one of these being an excess of the aromatase enzyme activity resulting with too much testosterone being aromatised into estrogen. This elevation in estrogen levels then acts on the brain to turn off testosterone production by a negative feedback mechanism resulting in a decline in the testosterone/estrogen ratio. The increased estrogen levels also increase SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) levels which then binds to whatever free testosterone is left thus further reducing its free and active form levels even further. This cascade effect causes a hormone imbalance between estrogen and testosterone and is suspected to be involved in the formation of prostate problems as well as the many symptoms such as : decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory problems, decreased energy and strength, increase in body fat, loss of muscle mass, prostate enlargement, osteoporosis, depression, inability to concentrate, reduced mental agility and loss of enthusiasm.
In these cases where an excess of aromatisation exists the use of an aromatase inhibitor can help obtain a healthy estrogen:testosterone balance. This can result with an increase in strength and stamina, increase in energy levels, improved muscle tone, increased libido, improved sexual function, improved mood and mental agility and a greater zest for life. However in cases where low testosterone levels are not related to excessive aromatisation the use of aromatase inhibitors on their own are of little benefit. Therefore testing is essential to ensure its use is suitable.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above then it is a good idea to have your testosterone, DHT, estrone and estradiol hormone levels tested.
If test results indicate that estrone/estradiol is high and testosterone is low then chrysin therapy should be initiated to rectify the imbalance. Chrysin should also be used in men currently on testosterone replacement which follow up test results indicate that they are converting too much of it into estradiol.
Early research using oral chrysin has found it not to be as effective at enhancing testosterone levels as was anticipated. The problem was later found to be due to its poor absorption into the blood stream after oral administration. When taken orally large doses of 1 to 3g are required in order for enough to be absorbed to be effective. Pilot studies using it in combination with piperine found that after 30 days serum estradiol levels were reduced and free testosterone levels were increased which suggests that absorption was improved with the addition of piperine, however large doses were still required.
It has been reported that chrysin creams are effective at one tenth the oral dose, that is 100 to 300mg daily. Therefore creams appear to be the preferred method of administration. The benefit of using a cream base is that chrysin may be dissolved into the cream base along with penetration enhancers making it absorb through the skin much easier, whereas when taken orally this water insoluble flavonoid is only minimally absorbed. Creams also bypass the stomach and liver thus minimising gastric degradation and first pass metabolism thus allowing smaller doses to be administered. The quality of the chrysin cream is however paramount for its effectiveness. Many creams available are grainy in texture which indicates that it is not adequately dissolved in the cream base and thus will not be effectively absorbed through the skin leaving the grainy chrysin crystals on the surface of the skin.
The best way to supplement chrysin is to start with applying 1g of a good quality 10% Chrysin cream daily. This equates to a total daily dose of 100mg. After using the cream for approximately six to eight weeks a follow up hormone test should be performed to evaluate if estrogen levels are decreasing and if they are not then an increase in dose is required. This will involve the use of a 10% Chrysin cream twice to three times a day. If three times a day dosing on 10% cream does not work then it is time to switch to Arimidex.