Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
With male testosterone levels dropping globally, there’s an increasing demand for libido and sexual performance enhancing supplements. Libido Max Red is a sexual support supplement targeting men, which claims “Satisfaction Guaranteed.”
In this review article we’ll analyze the formulation of Libido Max Red and explain why it’s very unlikely to be effective outside of a placebo effect.
Formulation Analysis - General Comments
The Supplement Facts label shows that this product is a proprietary, or “prop” blend, which is already an indicator of poor quality. As we discussed in our Balance of Nature review (another poorly-formulated supplement which uses prop blends), the only reason a manufacturer would list ingredients as a prop blend on their label instead of listing the exact dose of every ingredient is to deceive consumers.
Because manufacturers don’t have to disclose the component ingredients in a prop blend, they can list exotic ingredients in trace amounts to “spice up” their labels.
As a real world example, we see this deceptive marketing in Goli gummies. The brand highlights all of the health benefits of pomegranates in their marketing, but the ingredient is so underdosed in their formulation that it’s not even listed as an active ingredient, just an “Other Ingredient” with no listed dosage.
Pomegranates may be healthy, but getting a 1 mg dose of them is useless. That would be like consuming 0.001﹪ of a pomegranate. Similarly, one of the Libido Max Red ingredients may be effective, but if you as a consumer don’t know the dose, and it could be as low as 1 mg, you’re left clueless about how to determine if the product will actually work.
Ingredient Review - L-Citrulline
The first listed ingredient in Libido Max Red’s prop blend is L-citrulline. One of the proven citrulline benefits is improved sexual performance, but the amount of citrulline in this product is so low as to make it nearly worthless.
The entire prop blend is only 1.62g. Citrulline is one of four ingredients. Even if we assume there’s 1 g of citrulline in this product, it would be useless because the effective dose of citrulline is over 5 g based on medical research.
The mechanism by which citrulline improves sexual performance also has nothing to do with libido. It’s an amino acid that is a precursor to nitric oxide, which improves blood flow. Improved blood flow helps erection quality.
Ingredient Review - L-Arginine
There is no point in including l-arginine in a libido product. It, like citrulline, is an amino acid which has no influence on libido.
Arginine is a nitric oxide precursor but a much less effective one than l-citrulline. Therefore it would make sense just to replace any arginine with citrulline in this formulation. Our only guess as to why the company didn’t do this is to add another ingredient and make it seem like their prop blend was more diverse.
Ingredient Review - Beet Powder
At this point in the review, this probably won’t surprise you, but beet powder also has zero studied effect on libido.
Like the previous two ingredients, it’s a nitric oxide precursor which can improve blood flow at the right dosage. However the amount of beet powder in Libido Max Red is almost certainly underdosed, given that the entire prop blend is under 2 g.
Most of the studies showing positive effects of beet root powder (using reduced blood pressure as an indirect measurement of nitric oxide increase) use factors more beet than what we can estimate is contained in Libido Max Red.
Ingredient Review - Black Tea Extract
Including black tea extract in a libido enhancement product makes even less sense than the three previous ingredients. This compound is not typically used for libido, or studied for that purpose. We came across one study suggesting that black tea may aid libido, but it was an animal study and the animals were using factors more black tea than could be included in Libido Max Red.
There are many other libido enhancing herbs which are well-studied in humans, so this inclusion doesn’t make any sense to us.
If you’re looking for libido enhancement, there are some natural herbal products which have been proven in medical literature to be effective.
Panax ginseng, also known as “red ginseng”, improves human sex drive according to medical research. We published a whole research article on the benefits of red ginseng. The dosage used for libido enhancement tends to be around 3g daily.
Maca is another compound which is very well-studied for sexual enhancement. The dosage based on medical literature should be between 1.5 g and 3 g, according to Examine’s review of clinical research on maca. If you’re interested in trying maca, make sure to purchase the gelatinized version, as raw maca can be hard to digest and cause stomach irritation.
Libido Max Red is an underdosed product with questionable ingredients. There’s no reason to believe it should increase libido other than a placebo effect.
We recommend that consumers looking to naturally increase libido should look to more well-studied alternatives like maca or panax ginseng.