Gaspari is back on the scene with their first supplement to hit the market since the financial setbacks the company had in 2014. We teased Nova-X when we first got word of its release, and now it’s out and ready to go.
When we heard this product was coming out, we asked for something different. Rest assured, we certainly got that and then some.
Without doubt, Gaspari is taking the aggressive road during a 2015 that’s definitely been a transitional period for test boosters, with not a whole lot of truly aggressive options out there from the big brands.
As always, we have a full in-depth review of the ingredients and see if this newest offering from Gaspari is the real deal testosterone booster it claims to be.
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Looking at the label, we see a mix of 6 ingredients that make up Nova-X. Some forms you may be familiar with (such as a form of DAA), and some are relatively unknown (Toxicodendron Vernicifluum Extract which is bringing butein). Let’s see what if these players are actually effective or not!
Update: There is currently some industry confusion as to whether this product contains “1-Androsterone” or “Androsterone” — there *is* a difference.
This research was updated on May 5, 2015 to reflect that of Androsterone, not 1-Androsterone.
3α-hydroxy-5α-androstan-17-one, or Androsterone, is different than the 1-DHEA, or 1-Androsterone that the community is used to. Many people got confused because the label states “Androsterone (a natural metabolite of DHEA)”, leading them to believe it was 1-DHEA, but it is not – it is different than that compound.
To make sense of this clarification, Androsterone is a DHEA metabolite by way of androstenedione/testosterone/DHT/etc, and Androsterone is naturally occurring – as we show in some sources below.
So from this point on, we’re going to assume that this product contains Androsterone.
Now let’s take a look at what this ingredient brings to the table.
Androsterone: Androgenic Potency!
In Thomas Scott’s 1996 book, Concise Encyclopedia Biology, he claims the following:
Androsterone, 3α-hydroxy-5ß-androstan-17-one: an Androgeen which is formed in the interstitial cells of the testes. Its androgenic potency is 7 times less than that of testosterone, but it is used as the international reference standard for androgenic activity: 1.0 international unit (IU) corresponds to 0.1mg A.A. is excreted in urine as a metabolic product of testosterone. — Concise Encyclopedia Biology, by Thomas Scott
However, note that the book cites 3α-hydroxy-5ß-androstan-17-one (see the bolded beta symbol) as opposed to 3α-hydroxy-5α-androstan-17-one which is on the label. So there could be a minor difference between the research and what’s used here in Nova-X.
Conversion to DHT from 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
Another book — Hormones, Genes, and Cancer, by Brian Henderson — shows a conversion chart of how Androsterone can get converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) via 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. That mechanism bypasses conventional intermediates such as androstenedione and testosterone, giving it some unique properties.
Below the chart, the book states,
In addition to its conversion to DHT, 5α-androstane-3,17-dione can be transformed reversibly to androsterone through the action of 3α-HSD. Furthermore, androsterone can be transformed reversibly to 3α-diol via the enzyme 17β-HSD. In both men and women, serum levels of 3α-diol and androsterone are very low. — Hormones, Genes, and Cancer, by Brian Henderson
So clearly, there’s anabolic potential in this ingredient, and that’s what Nova-X users are ultimately looking for.
Other fringe benefits
Other research has shown that androsterone has anticonvulsant effects in epileptic male rats, although at a low potency. This is likely due to it being an inhibitory androstane neurosteroid and modulator of GABAA.
This is important because epileptic men have lower free testosterone levels, so there could be a connection here to its supplementation.
Wasn’t this banned?
This looks like something that could be attacked by the FDA/DEA as something that violates the 2014 prohormone ban. However, Androsterone is found naturally-occurring in pine pollen, which is likely how Gaspari is selling it.
The source cited above shows that Androsterone is in Pinus nigra Ar. (pollen), at an amount of 0.22µg per 10g of pollen. We’re unsure of whether or not that passes the DSHEA test, but it is indeed naturally-occurring.
However, it’s also flat out stated to be a steroid – even if it’s a plant steroid – so the FDA or DEA could still potentially use the 2014 DASCA act against it.
It will take time to see what comes of this ingredient, but for now, it seems to be legally sold and effective in research, and this is what users want. The question is now how effective it is orally.
Mucuna Pruriens Extract (250mg)
Found in India, Africa, and the Caribbean, Mucuna Pruriens (a.k.a. Velvet Bean) is a plant known for its antioxidant content. It’s typically standardized for L-Dopa, which is likely the case here.
As far as its place in a test booster is concerned, it has been shown to increase testosterone production in infertile men subjected to a 5g dose for a period of 3 months. However, when healthy, fertile men were given the same dosing protocol, there was no difference in their testosterone levels.
Bottom line, if you’re already a healthy, virulent guy, this isn’t going to do much for your testosterone levels. Plus, the test group was given a 5g dose of Mucuna Pruriens Extract. In Nova-X, you get less – 250mg.
Growth hormone boosting!
This compound is useful for boosting Growth Hormone (GH) levels in the body, however. The research showed a 500mg dose to elicit the rise in GH[16,17], which is what we get out of the days’ worth of Nova-X.
As Nova-X is meant to be dosed 2x per day, you’ll get a boost in GH, but likely nothing for testosterone unfortunately. It’s a good support ingredient for the Androsterone above. So far so good…
Toxicodendron Vernicifluum Extract (100mg)
This is the one ingredient that many have found to be questionable, and is drawing industry question and concern.
However, with the updated label and clarification from Gaspari, we’re now confident that this ingredient will do its job and won’t pose a threat.
More commonly called the Chinese lacquer tree, Toxicodendron Vernicifluum is native to China, Korea, and Korea. Traditionally, these trees were highly prized for their toxic sap which was used as a lacquer in Oriental laquerware. The seeds and leaves were traditionally used in Chinese medicine to rid the body of parasites and to stop bleeding.
A quick search of PubMed reveals that there have been 12 studies conducted on this extract, but none really explained why it would be in a test booster product. One study found that it is useful as an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent.
The Gaspari-haters have come out in legion against this ingredient, because the first 5 letters are toxic. In its most raw form, parts of this herb are not optimal for human consumption – the raw stuff that’s used to make laquer can inhibit smooth muscle cell and cause some forms of cell death.[7,18]
What the hell is this doing in a supplement?!
Before Gaspari’s label was updated, we asked multiple industry experts, and we seem to have found an answer: Butein.
That turned out to be right. The new label states “Standardized to Butein and other chalcones”
What is butein?
Put simply, this is a constituent that has anti-aromatase effects. When we said we wanted something new, different, and hopefully powerful from Gaspari… this is one of the ways they delivered.
As long as it’s being extracted properly, it won’t pose the threats that some have been concerned about. Since we don’t have lab tests, we really can’t confirm nor deny anything, and we’re awaiting logs and reviews to start surfacing.
So the point is, if you’re going to use this product, you’re going to need to trust that Gaspari is getting high amounts of butein in here, and not raw Toxicodendron Vernicifluum material.
This is the state of supplements in the post-DASCA (prohormone ban) world.
Customers want strong test boosters and strong estrogen-inhibitors, but it’s tough for supplement brands who want to stay on the legal side of the law. These brands need to stay FDA/DSHEA compliant — meaning their new ingredients need to be found in nature.
If butein is as good as the evidence shows, but this is how you have to get it, then that’s a risk Gaspari decided to take. We’re excited to see how well it plays off and will get some logs here on the site, but early rumors are that it’s going to be well worth it.
Diosterol™ Brand Dioscorea Nipponica Makino 50-67:1 Extract (200mg)
Diosterol is a patented, highly concentrated extract of the Dioscorea Nipponica Makino plant equivalent to 10-13.4g of the plant itself, sounds pretty fancy doesn’t it?
According to Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (the makers of Diosterol), this extract is
“standardized to a minimum of 40% Protodioscin, 60% Total furostanolic saponins, and 90% total saponins including Diosgenin and 5a-Hydroxy Laxogenin.”
The saponin content of this extract is supposed to be the key to its potency.
Also per Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals,
“steroidal saponins have been identified as the bioactive constituents responsible for the anabolic and aphrodisiac effects, these saponins (of which protodioscin is the primary) enable the body to produce more testosterone by raising the levels of the Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which a hormone released normally by the pituitary gland helps to maintain testosterone production. As the LH increases, so testosterone increases.”
If you’ve heard of this saponin spiel before, it’s for good reason. Tribulus terrestris was once thought to be a huge testosterone boosting product based off its high saponin content, but several studies have confirmed that it does nothing to raise testosterone.[9,10,11] (Tribulus is great for libido, though, which makes it “feel” like a test booster).
What’s up with Laxogenin?
But up above, we call out Laxogenin, which is the last constituent. While this ingredient may have efficacy, it’s exceedingly unlikely at the potential dose that’s here (it’s usually taken at 50-100mg per day). Unfortunately, there’s no lab testing standard for it, and has an interesting background as a recovery agent. It may be anti-inflammatory, but there is not much serious research behind it.
Interestingly, this was part of Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch’s return to the NFL in 2010, where they sung very high praises.
We expect this to be an “up and coming” ingredient that will get a lot more discussion, but for now, there’s not much research, and seeing it at the end of the complex makes us believe that it might just be there for label recognition purposes with the anabolic crowd. We’d need to see a true dosage here before committing to any statements on it in Nova-X.
Regarding this entire complex, the jury is out as to whether this entire extract will truly boost testosterone levels and have steroid-like activity, or if it will simply be another tribulus.
DHT Inhibiting Complex (210mg)
The two main ingredients in this Nova-X complex are Pygeum Africanum bark extract and Saw Palmetto. This unique extract comes from the Prunus africanum tree or African cherry tree. The bark was traditionally used in African medicine for matters related to prostate health. In modern studies, it has been shown to displace about 60% of the DHT from its receptors.
DHT or Dihydrotestosterone is another sex hormone and androgen in the body. Approximately 5% of the testosterone in your body converts to DHT. Why would we want this inhibited though? DHT is the primary contributing factor in male pattern baldness, and anything that takes away our testosterone is a potential for more testosterone, if we can stop or slow it. So it makes sense we’d want to blunt the spread or proliferation of too much DHT lest we all have an innate desire to look like Lex Luthor.
Saw Palmetto has also been shown prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT. So while this isn’t directly boosting our T levels, it is helping them from falling any lower.
It could be said that anything that prevents test to DHT conversion would thereby “increase” test… because you’re keeping some that you otherwise would have lost. As a side-note, this is also one way that Fenugreek works (as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor).
N-Methyl-D-Aspartic Acid (30mg)
N-Methyl-D-Aspartic Acid is made in the body from D-Aspartic Acid. It acts as a signaling compound In the testes and the brain the instructs cells to increase their activity. Interestingly enough, NMDA is also an excitotoxin, meaning it kills nerve cells by over-stimulating them (just what you want in a supplement, right?). This has led to supplements containing this ingredient to be somewhat controversial.
Nevertheless, manufacturers have started to include this ingredient in various test boosters hoping to capitalize on the studies showing DAA to be effective in raising T-levels. However, NMDA does not have any studies validating its claim as an effective test booster.
A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine put a group of men on a 28 day resistance training program while supplementing with NMDA. At the end of the trial, the researchers found that “ no preferential effect on augmenting testosterone or decreasing estrogen, cortisol, and prolactin.” Furthermore, they also found that NMDA supplementation did nothing to increase lean mass or decrease fat.
Seems like a relatively useless ingredient that was probably put in for name recognition.
Would I need PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) with Nova-X?
In theory, the answer is no, because there are cycle supports built into the product.
Gaspari has also confirmed this, with their formulator stating, “None needed.”
But realistically, since the we’re not 100% confident in what the Androsterone’s going to do to your test levels, one could argue that you should probably err on the side of caution and run an over-the-counter PCT anyway (no need for the prescription stuff).
Chances are, though, it seems like you’re safe without added cycle support.
As you can see from the analysis above, there are still a few questions to be answered here, and some general industry confusion with this product.
We just hope (and have to assume) that they’re really just using the key component (butein) and not any toxic parts, and if we got confirmation with that, Nova-X could make some people far more comfortably happy.
This is the new Gaspari direction – beginners, do your research
At least we have a clear stance with where they’re taking this company after last year’s financial setbacks / sale – back to the “more potent side” with some very aggressive formulations. Whether the anabolic community will welcome them back is to be determined, but we always do our best to help educate users when a mass market brand put out something that may have hormonal effects.
In all likelihood, Nova-X is going to work pretty well. We’re just going to try to find some more research before making a final recommendation.
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- Shenouda NS, et al; Phytosterol Pygeum africanum regulates prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo . Endocrine. (2007)
- Shukla KK, et al; Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis . Fertil Steril. (2009)
- Neychev VK, Mitev VI; The aphrodisiac herb Tribulus terrestris does not influence the androgen production in young men . J Ethnopharmacol. (2005)
- Rogerson S, et al; The effect of five weeks of Tribulus terrestris supplementation on muscle strength and body composition during preseason training in elite rugby league players . J Strength Cond Res. (2007)
- Martino-Andrade AJ, et al; Effects of Tribulus terrestris on endocrine sensitive organs in male and female Wistar rats . J Ethnopharmacol. (2010)
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging: Contribution of the DHEAge Study to a sociobiomedical issue
- Kim, K; Identification of cytotoxic and anti-inflammatory constituents from the bark of Toxicodendron vernicifluum (Stokes) F.A. Barkley.; Natural Products Laboratory, School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University; 2015
- Wang, Y; The plant polyphenol butein inhibits testosterone-induced proliferation in breast cancer cells expressing aromatase.; Department of Biochemistry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; 2005
- Scott, T; Concise Encyclopedia Biology. Walter de Gruyter. p. 49. ISBN 978-3-11-010661-9; 1996
- Henderson, B; Hormones, Genes, and Cancer; Oxford University Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-19-513576-3; 2003
- Kaminski, R; Anticonvulsant Activity of Androsterone and Etiocholanolone; Epilepsia, 46: 819–827; 2005
- Reddy, S; Neurosteroids — Endogenous Regulators of Seizure Susceptibility and Role in the Treatment of Epilepsy; Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, College of Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center; 2012
- Janeczko A, “Mammalian sex hormones in plants“. FOLIA HISTOCHEMICA ET CYTOBIOLOGICA 43 (2): 71–79; 2005