This article’s going to have one of two extreme
reactions from most readers…
Because most men have one of two reactions to licorice.
For those who consider it one of the finest delicacies ever created, or someone who swears by its medicinal qualities….
You’re going to be very disappointed in what you read here.
For those who think it’s crap masquerading as a snack or supplement…you won’t care much about this at all.
Either way, here’s what science has to tell us about the relationship between licorice and the male sexual go-juice we call testosterone.
Does licorice lower testosterone levels in men? Yes, yes it does. Science has known this for decades, as shown in a whole lot of studies.
A 1999 study in Italy of men in their early-to-mid 20s gave subjects 7 grams of licorice supplements, then tested their serum testosterone.
While the men were taking the supplement, their level of serum testosterone decreased. It then increased upon discontinuing the supplement (source).
In 1998, researchers in Ibaraki, Japan studied the impact of the active ingredients in licorice supplements by applying it to tissue from rat gonads in a test tube.
A 2004 study found that licorice reduced testosterone production in women enough to be considered a legitimate therapy for women’s health conditions caused or exacerbated by their bodies producing too much testosterone.
Bottom line: licorice means less testosterone. More licorice means even less testosterone than less licorice. Things don’t get much clearer than this.
“But that’s not all!”
If you’ve been studying testosterone and erectile health for long at all, you know that stress reduces testosterone.
You might not know why.
Stress causes your body to produce three catabolic hormones: cortisol, adrenaline, and glucagon.
These have just awesome effects if you have to run away from a mugger or fight a saber-tooth tiger…but when you don’t have those physical outlets those hormones stay in your body for longer than is healthy.
One impact of long-term elevated cortisol is your body produces less testosterone to maintain hormonal balance.
For the “TL:DR” crowd: stress = cortisol. Cortisol = less testosterone.
And guess what? Licorice also = more cortisol.
Studies in 1987, 1990, and 1993 all found a direct correlation between consuming licorice (or its active ingredient extracted) and increased cortisol levels (source).
As with the studies that found licorice directly reduced testosterone, these studies found higher licorice consumption meant further cortisol elevation.
That’s right, folks. Licorice not only reduces your testosterone production directly, it makes your body produce more of a substance that further reduces your testosterone production.
As you (probably) remember from high school or college anatomy classes, androgen receptors lock up and utilize the testosterone your body produces.
They’re like a receiver on the football team. Without these receptors, your QB can pass all he wants but nobody’s going to catch the ball.
And guess what? Licorice takes those androgen receptors off the field.
An Iranian study in 2009 injected rats with the active ingredient from licorice root. Eight days later, they tested the androgen receptor activity in those rats using a series of really gross methods I won’t get into here.
They found that the licorice root extract significantly reduced activity in the androgen receptors (source).
Keep in mind that this study was performed in response to research that proved licorice root helped women reduce hair growth and other secondary male characteristics, studying whether it could be a less aggressive alternative to hormone Reduction therapies.
It was looking to find out why licorice root reduced hormones, because the fact that it does was already well proven and understood.
Licorice root has been used to help menopausal women alleviate symptoms since long before humanity knew that estrogen and testosterone were things.
This century, we continue to recommend licorice root for menopausal women, because we understand that it boosts estrogen production. Since menopause comes from (among other things) a crash in estrogen, it’s a pretty simple proposition.
Seriously, when it comes to testosterone production licorice gets you coming and going. Which is why it should come as no surprise to discover that…
Even if the testosterone-reducing impact of licorice leaves your penis hard enough for you to be able to have sex, there’s a fair chance you won’t want to have sex.
For all of the reasons we’ve discussed above, more than one expert has recommended licorice root, tea, or candy to help reduce libido in cases where too much sex drive was a problem.
If you have that problem, you probably didn’t need to read this article. If you have the opposite problem, and you’re consuming licorice for some reason, that could be why your sex drive is suffering.
Sorry, licorice fans, this one’s not even up for debate. Eating licorice candy — or taking licorice in other forms like teas or licorice root — just ruins your testosterone production:
So, if you’re having trouble with your erectile health, libido, sexual function, or anything else of that sort, lay off the licorice.