Reading through an old Muscle Mag encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, I ran across statements suggesting licorice supplementation due to its phytoestrogen content, as well as the same recommendation for soy supplementation using the same reasoning. Of course, this reasoning was that estrogen increases testosterone receptor sensitivity and or the number of t receptors one posses. At the same time, the assertion was that estrogen is anabolic, and can be indirectly converted into testosterone.
Reading this, I thought "poor bastards. I wonder how many kids read this, went out, bought a bunch of soy and licorice, all the time thinking it would give them the gains they dreamed of."
Nonetheless, being a sucker for research, I hit the books. Quickly, I found a similar assertion:
"Estrogen believe it or not can actually increase growth hormone output. It also improves glucose utilization and makes androgen receptors more receptive to testosterone stimulation." -BodybuildingMD.com
However, the assertion that estrogen is anabolic to skeletal muscle (that's the kind we are interested in) is, by all observation, false. To quote a 200 study,
"...long term exposure to estrogens decreases muscle fiber size in rats." (Blake et al, 2000)
So what of their assertion that it increases HGH?
This does appear to be the case... in women. As of yet, I have been unable to find a study conducted on men, for obvious ethical reasons. So, this claim may be somewhat non-applicable.
I have been, as of yet, unable to find any research on this subject.
Even if this were true, though, would estrogen supplementation be worth it?
Would an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, infertility, and girly-ness be worth potential increased t receptors? Would conversion of type II t the smaller, less powerful type I muscle fibers be offset by these new, more sensitive receptors?
No, I think not.
All I can truly say is I'm glad to have the knowledge we do today, and shudder to think what recommendations are coming our way that will be, in the near future, terrible, awful, painfully ignorant advice.