Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a popular sweet flavoring in confectionery and in some tobacco brands. Licorice comes from the extract of the roots of licorice plant. In Europe, slices of licorice root is dried and chewed as a sweet. In some countries, licorice root is used to flavor wine and dishes. Licorice is also used to mask bad taste of some medicines.
Folk medicine regards licorice as a remedy for stomach ulcers, colic and heartburns, for sore throat, cough and for constipation. Licorice is also used to help treat conditions such as liver disease and Addison’s disease. Persons with sores in the mouth (oral ulcers) may find benefit from dissolving licorice tablets in the mouth.
What is Glycyrrhizin?
Licorice contains bioactive compounds responsible for its flavor and purported medicinal properties. The roots of licorice contain Glycyrrhizin, a substance that is many times sweeter than sugar and has physiological effects in the body. Glycyrrhizin has both mineralocorticoid properties and glucocorticoid properties in the body, similar to steroids. This is the reason why persons with insufficiency of adrenal glands (which produce steroids in the body) benefit from licorice consumption.
Why licorice is bad for men?
Licorice may not be good for men, especially those who suffer from low testosterone. Licorice has profound effects in the body, and these physiological effects can hurt testosterone production and male sexual performance in many ways. However, we still see lots of licorice candy sold around. In the United States, a lot of ‘licorice’ candies are actually flavored with much cheaper and similarly-tasting anise. But there are still lots of licorice confections flavored with the real thing. Many candies that contain real licorice extracts are black in color.
Genuine licorice candies is actually a health hazard, especially to anyone ages 40 and above. The U.S Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory warning people aged 40 and above to limit consumption of licorice candies to less than 2 ounces every day. However, it is easy to overlook this because licorice is candy (and we love sweets). Be aware that eating too much licorice can raise blood pressure, makes heartbeat irregular and is known to lower testosterone levels by almost 50% for almost two days.
According to studies, men who eat too much licorice can lower interest in sex and cause problems in erection. In a study featured in The New England Journal of Medicine, 7 grams of licorice tablets per day is shown to reduce testosterone levels in men in as short as 7 days. Testosterone is the hormone that masculinizes men – it stimulates production of sperm, bulks up muscle mass, strengthens bones and drives up sexual appetite. The testosterone-lowering effect of licorice is also evident in healthy women, according to a study featured in the journal Steroids. The negative effect of licorice in male virility is again reproduced in another separate study, where males supplemented with licorice for a week saw their testosterone levels drop by as much as 26%. In another study featured in Diabetes Care, supplementation of Glycyrrhizin itself caused reduction of testosterone in diabetic men with hepatitis.
Men with low testosterone must avoid licorice
Studies showed that licorice is a potent sex virility killer in men. The reduction of testosterone upon consuming licorice daily for a week is drastic. Therefore, men with suspected or existing problems regarding testosterone and erectile dysfunction must is highly advised not to consume any product that contains licorice extract.
Testosterone Boosting Foods
Just as there are many foods which we consume daily that are responsible for low testosterone in men, there are also many foods which boost natural testosterone levels in men. In fact, there are hundreds of studies documenting the impact various foods have on our testosterone levels, in particular in this book, Testosterone Booster: How to Increase Testosterone Naturally.