I was really surprised when I opened the small, foil-sealed package… Did you know that ostrich penis is bright blue?

Early on in my transition, I had a chat with the local Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor about hormone therapy. He casually suggested that I take “ostrich testosterone,” something he sometimes gives to cisgender men with low T, and indicated that I could perhaps reduce my injected T dose if I took it. I wasn’t about to start messing with my dose but I let the information percolate in my mind a bit.

Jin Tuo Yang: Gold Ostrich Masculine

I asked a few other TCM docs about ostrich T but none of them had heard of it. I went online and found a single brand of ostrich pills available from a website based in Singapore: Jin Tuo Yang, aka Gold Ostrich Masculine. The website makes some outlandish sounding claims about this “male biological treasure” and I skeptically set the whole idea aside.

Fast forward to this past fall when I developed a case of shingles: I went to see the TCM doc for treatment, and as I was leaving he handed me a small blue box containing one Jin Tuo Yang pill and suggested I try it out sometime, free of charge. (It costs $25-30 per pill.) I thanked him, then dropped it onto a shelf when I got home and forgot about it.

When I did my last shot, I ran out of T and got 120mg instead of my regular 180mg. I decided I’d inject a small amount the following week if I was feeling off at all. Then I remembered the ostrich pill! If it was something that could give me a T boost, wouldn’t this be the right time to try it out? It may have been the right time for a T boost, but I won’t be taking ostrich pills again, and here’s why:

1. Well, what is Jin Tuo Yang, really?

The ingredients listed are: “Ostrich Penis, Lycium Barbarum, Oycium, etc.” Lycium Barbarum is goji berry, aka wolfberry. I can’t find a reference to “oycium” online, but Google thinks I’m searching for “lycium.” Maybe oycium is a variant name for goji? Or maybe it’s just a spelling error. Goji plants are green with red berries. Presumably ostrich penis isn’t bright blue. I guess “etc” is bright blue? The leaflet specifically states that it “contains no any western medicine composition” but I thought to myself, Viagra’s bright blue… (In retrospect, I wish I’d cut the pill open to see if it was blue all the way through or just blue-coated.)

According to the website, “domestic and foreign biologists and pharmaceutical experts succeeded in extracting DHLA substance from genitals, kidney and testis of ostrich.” (Kidney and testicles are “etc” then?) Dihydrolipoic acid (DHLA), the King of antioxidants, is claimed to be the source of the ostrich’s ability to maintain “vigor, strength and endurance,” and is the “governing drug” in Jin Tuo Yang. Also known as Alpha-dihydrolipoic acid, DHLA is the reduced form of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), a bodybuilding supplement for muscle growth. DHLA has been found to increase the uptake of cysteine, leading to increased glutathione synthesis. According to Paul Adcock, author of Jungle King Secrets, DHLA is the only known antioxidant supplement capable of quenching every known free radical in living cells.

The biologically active polysaccharide (LPB) from goji berries is used as an “adjuvant” in Jin Tuo Yang. Published studies have reported possible medicinal benefits of goji, likely due to antioxidant properties.

It sounds like Jin Tuo Yang is a straight up antioxidant supplement.

2. It’s not clear how ostrich penis boosts testosterone, especially in a trans guy.

In TCM, Jin Tuo Yang is used to support healthy kidney Qi, treating impotence, spermatorrhea (excessive, involuntary ejaculation), and prospermia (premature ejaculation). (See repairs, characteristics and effects.) According to the website, “it is the effect of DHLA that… secretes a large amount of testosterone.” I’m not a biochemist, but I’ve had trouble finding information that indicates that DHLA is a testosterone building block or precursor, or plays some other role in increasing bio-available T.

In China, it’s believed that consuming animal penis enhances sexual vitality. Penises of yak, water buffalo, deer, antelope, goat, bull, and snake (they have two!) are all served up at specialty penis and testicle restaurants:

It’s not clear to me how consuming animal penis is supposed to increase testosterone, especially in someone born female bodied, without much testosterone production to stimulate. The TCM doc and I communicate in different ways and I find it difficult to extract relevant information from him sometimes. I wonder why he thinks Jin Tuo Yang would do anything for me?

3. It gave me a massive headache!

I felt the effects of the bright blue ostrich pill within about 2 hours—in the form of a monumental headache. I don’t often get headaches and this one was mammoth. I took a couple of aspirin and it faded somewhat but I could still feel a dull ache in my skull the next morning. (The most common side effect of Viagra is headache.)

I’m always up for learning more about alternative therapies that help support my testosterone maintenance, but my experiment with Jin Tuo Yang was enough to guarantee that animal penises won’t be a part of my trans health regimen.