Glycyrrhiza grabra is commonly known as licorice. Chances are that you’ve heard about it, that you’ve tasted it but that you’re unaware about the bodybuilding benefits that it brings to the table.
Licorice is often included in the composition of enhancement supplements, particularly growth hormone releasers. There are several reasons why the natural ingredient has become so popular in the world of bodybuilding.
What Is Glycyrrhiza Grabra?
Known as common licorice and licorice root, this herb has a name derived from the Greek phrase for sweet root. This name sheds some light on some of the most common uses of licorice. It’s an important ingredient for the creation of various kinds of candy and confectionery.
The plant grows in Europe, North America and parts of western Asia. While it’s not a US native, the plant was introduced to the continent and it quickly got adapted to the local habitat.
The most important active compound found in licorice is called glycyrrhizin. This substance is 50 times sweeter than sugar, hence the use of licorice in the creation of various desserts.
The underground stems of the plant (rhizomes) are the ones cultivated for the purpose of glycyrrhizin extraction.
Various medicinal uses of Glycyrrhiza grabra have been recognized by clinicians. Licorice root is often used to make natural throat lozenges. These are great for overcoming infections and strep throat in a natural way.
Licorice also helps for digestive issues, inflammatory conditions, food poisoning and menstrual cramps.
Why Is Licorice Used In HGH Supplements?
There are several reasons why licorice root is used in HGH and bodybuilding supplements.
Some newer studies are being carried out to assess the manner in which licorice affects hormone levels. There is some evidence that licorice increases testosterone production in men.
It’s also linked to an increase in DHEA. DHEA is an important substance that launches the production of the primary sexual hormones in men and women.
There’s also some preliminary evidence (based on animal studies) that licorice root extract can increase insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels in the body. IGF-1 is a precursor of growth hormone and the two are closely linked to each other.
Thus, the incorporation of licorice in bodybuilding supplements enhances their anabolic effects. At the same time, such products are completely natural and they deliver muscle gains minus the side effects caused by the use of anabolic steroids.
Evidence And Clinical Studies
More research will be required to conform the anabolic and HGH release effects of licorice root. Still, there already is some scientific evidence that backs up the claims.
The results of the first experiment were presented in the journal of Molecular and Cellular Biology in 2011. Volunteers were given licorice root extract orally for a period of one week. In the end of the experiment, salivary testosterone and DHEA were assessed.
Researchers found out that both salivary DHEA and testosterone had gone up as a consequence of the licorice root consumption.
The second study was an animal one and it was presented in 2016. Researchers wanted to explore the manner in which licorice root would affect changes in IGF-1 levels in yellow perch. Licorice root was incorporated in the diet of the fish for a period of four weeks.
Biochemical, immunological and growth parameters were all examined in the end of the experiment.
Researchers saw a pronounced increase in IGF-1 levels and in body mass gain.
Dosage, Side Effects and Interactions
Since it is an edible plant, licorice is considered generally safe. Licorice root consumption in large concentration isn’t recommended for periods longer than four weeks because it may cause serious side effects.
When it comes to dosage, it’s best to stick to manufacturer recommendations.
Keep in mind that licorice could interact with various types of medications. Research suggests that the active compound interacts with warfarin, digoxin, estrogens, medications changed by the liver, medications for high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals.
If you are taking such medicines, talk to your doctor prior to getting started with a licorice root supplementation program.