No, Charlie Sheen, testosterone gel did not give you “tiger blood.”
The ex-Two and a Half Men star told Dr. Oz in an interview taped for Wednesday’s show that much of his infamous “winning” phase in 2011 was caused by his overuse of topical testosterone cream. Those who followed Sheen’s very public meltdown will recall that he once claimed to have “Adonis DNA,” referred to himself as a “warlock,” and slept with “Goddesses,” all while “winning every second.”
Now, he seems to have found a convenient scapegoat for his self-aggrandizing remarks.
“I was taking a lot of testosterone cream and I think I went too far with it,” Sheen explained to Dr. Oz. “It was kind of like a borderline… not a ‘roid rage, but a ‘roid disengage.”
But medically speaking, even if Sheen did go too far with testosterone gel, there’s no way that it caused the erratic behavior he displayed after CBS fired him.
“It sounds to me like he’s trying to blame an external source for his own behavior,” Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, author of Testosterone for Life, told The Daily Beast.
Morgentaler, who is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School, has overseen testosterone therapy for thousands of men without witnessing any of Sheen’s supposed side effects.
“What he’s describing is nothing that I’ve seen in 25 years of treating men with testosterone,” Dr. Morgentaler said.
Scientific studies have failed to find a conclusive link between testosterone therapy and increased aggression or irritability. In 2013, for instance, a double-blind study of one treatment published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that testosterone “did not increase aggressive behavior or induce any changes in nonaggressive or sexual behavior.” These results, Dr. Morgentaler confirmed, are typical.
“In studies where they’ve given high doses of testosterone to men for periods of up to many months, they’ve seen no increase in irritability or anger or violence,” he said. “The stories are anecdotal.”
Those stories—and the term “roid rage”—typically come out of the male bodybuilding community, where the use of unproven anabolic steroids is more common. Outside of those urban legends, there’s simply no accounting for the sort of misbehavior that Sheen wants to blame on testosterone gel.
Very occasionally, Dr. Morgentaler told The Daily Beast, men’s wives or partners will complain of increased irritability or anger but, in those cases, they are typically “going back to who they used to be,” not suddenly transforming into “frickin’ rockstar[s] from Mars” as Sheen did.
“That was a very specific period of time that did feel very out-of-body and…detached from all things real,” Sheen told Dr. Oz of his whirlwind 2011. “I felt superhuman during some of that.”
That superhuman feeling did not come from rubbing testosterone gel on his skin.
“What makes the story unlikely is that about 15 to 20 percent of men don’t absorb the gels very well,” Dr. Morgentaler explained. “It’s actually challenging to get levels of testosterone that are super high with the gels.”
There is one drug that is a far more likely culprit for Sheen’s “winning” period.
“I’m on a drug,” Sheen announced on Good Morning America in 2011. “It’s called Charlie Sheen.”