I personally don’t like the taste of Licorice. It’s just too sweet for me. However, I do know a lot of men who’re basically addicted to it. If you’re one of those men or at least eat it every once in a while, you better listen up.
Licorice could be bad for you. And no, it’s not because its too sweet. It’s because Licorice might lower your testosterone. In today’s research review, I’ll be showing you how. Let’s get to it.
WHY TEST BOOSTER SUPPLEMENTS USE LICORICE
Licorice (or Liquorice as our British counterparts spell it), is scientifically known as Glycyrrhiza glabra and it’s a legume that’s native to Europe, Asia, and India. It’s also been used for thousands of years as folk or traditional remedy. Currently, Licorice also has been used for a number of medical applications such as treatment for digestive and respiratory conditions.
Otherwise known as “sweet root”, Licorice is surprisingly about 50 times sweeter than sugar despite being ‘sugar free’. The active ingredient in Licorice, glycyrrhiza, is also linked to side effects such as headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure. However, there is a form of Licorice called DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) which doesn’t seem to be linked to these same side effects.
Recently, there has been word that Licorice affects testosterone levels. This has caused a stir in the testosterone boosting industry and led to some manufacturers including Licorice in their stack.
What these brands probably didn’t know, is that the way Licorice affects testosterone is the exact opposite of how they want their testosterone boosters. Licorice has shown to lower testosterone via the suppression of various compounds which I’ll be discussing in more detail below.
STUDIES ON LICORICE SUGGEST:
Inhibit 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
According to this research, a certain man named Stewart and his colleagues said that Licorice inhibits 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase.
Licorice (or glycyrrhetinic acid to be more specific), by inhibiting 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, prevents the conversion of active cortisol to inactive cortisone, leading to higher levels of cortisol in aldosterone-responsive tissues such as the kidney.
When cortisol levels go higher, it becomes harder to build or even maintain your muscle bulk. Additionally, cortisol and testosterone seem to share an inverse relationship in that higher levels of cortisol lead to lower levels of testosterone. Needless to say, Licorice and its most active component glycyrrhetinic acid doesn’t look like it’s helping our quest for more testosterone.
To conclude, the research says that “prolonged suppression of the renin-aldosterone axis demonstrates the potency of licorice toxicity“. Not good.
Block 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
As the previous research demonstrated, Licorice and its major compound glycyrrhetinic acid increases cortisol levels which could potentially lower levels of testosterone by inhibiting 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase.
Another research shows that licorice has other ways of disrupting testosterone production and that is by blocking 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase – the compound responsible for converting testosterone’s precursor androstenedione to our favorite manly hormone.
The study was conducted by examining the effects of licorice on normal men. These men were given 7 g of licorice tablets that contained 0.5 g of glycyrrhizic acid. Testosterone, androstenedione, and 17-hydroxyprogesterone were then measured after 4 and 7 days of supplementation and 4 days after discontinuation. Below is a screenshot of the results of the study taken directly from the research article.
As you can see from those results, by blocking 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, Licorice was able to decrease testosterone levels by a huge percentage. Obviously, this isn’t what we men want. Thankfully, the results also show that after 4 days of discontinuing Licorice supplementation, testosterone levels were nearly back to normal.
Apparently, the researchers of this were study were not satisfied because they only administered their experiment on a tiny sample size of 7 men. They re-did their exact same procedures in another research but this time, with more subjects. The results of the second study states that “the mean testosterone values decreased by 26 % after one week of treatment“.
Additionally, the second research found a significant increase in LH concentrations and a slight, but not significant decrease in “free” testosterone.
Has antiandrogenic properties
By now, you should already know that Licorice reduces levels of testosterone. However, testosterone isn’t the only thing that comprises men’s health so let me add another research in the list.
This next research was done to investigate different aspects of antiandrogenic properties of Glycyrrhiza glabra or Licorice. The researchers divided rats into 5 different groups:
- rats without any treatment (control group)
- rats plus T replacement
- rats with T replacement plus various doses of Glycyrrhiza glabra extract
- 75 mg/kg
- 150 mg/kg
- 300 mg/kg
The experiment lasted 7 days with the supplementation administered once per day. After 7 days, various measurements were collected for analysis. The results of the research show that “those receiving the doses of 150 and 300 mg/kg showed a significant reduction in prostate weight, total T“. Additionally, the research also states that “down-regulation of androgen receptors or activation of oestrogen receptors could be involved mechanisms“.
Now, I know this is a rat study and rat studies aren’t very conclusive when it comes to human health. However, they also do serve as indicators as to what a certain compound might do while human trials are still lacking.
In this case, the research shows that in addition to lowering levels of testosterone, Licorice could also influence prostate health and possibly even activate estrogen receptors which might lead to unwanted side effects to us men.
To conclude the study, the researchers simply said “that alcoholic extract of G. glabra has antiandrogenic properties“.
How Do I Take LICORICE?
Well, in general, Licorice can be taken two ways. First, is the basic licorice that still has Glycyrrhizin and second is a specially prepared form that doesn’t anymore contain Glycyrrhizin. As seen in the research I just showed you, Glycyrrhizin or glycyrrhetinic acid is the main proponent in Licorice’s antiandrogenic properties. That said, my personal advise would be to take Licorice without glycyrrhetinic acid.
According to this research, 300 to 1200 mg/day “is safe when administered once daily”. Furthermore, the same research specifically used Licorice Flavonoid Oil (LFO) so it might be best to use that too.
If you do decide to take Licorice with Glycyrrhizin, I would advise you to take it at dosages lower than 300 mg to minimize the negative influence it might have on testosterone.
Let me ask you a question. Why did you even want to take testosterone boosters in the first place? Wait, I know. TO BOOST TESTOSTERONE!
The studies I’ve referenced to clearly show that Licorice can lower testosterone and thus, making it a counter-productive ingredient to add in any supplement that was supposedly manufactured to boost T. That said, my personal opinion on Licorice is simple. Don’t take it.
Furthermore, some testosterone boosters are made specifically to improve your athletic or bodybuilding experience. If your purpose for taking testosterone boosters was this and you thought about Licorice, my advise remains the same. Don’t take it. Licorice has also shown to increase cortisol and this stress hormone is counterproductive to both testosterone and muscular recovery.
One other thing that Licorice has shown to influence is your prostate. Obviously, prostate health is extremely important to us men because that’s essentially what makes us men in the first place. Again, don’t take it. Or at least not yet. I’m no expert so to be safe, always seek the advise of your doctor before messing with your prostate.
However, I’m not saying that Licorice is bad overall. It might not be able to help boost testosterone but it still has other healthy benefits. If testosterone isn’t your goal, then feel free to try it.