Licorice Root - What is it & How to use

What is it?

  • Most licorice root grows in Greece, Turkey, and Asia. Anise oil is often used instead of licorice root to flavor licorice candy.
  • Centuries ago, licorice root was used in Greece, China, and Egypt for stomach inflammation and upper respiratory problems. Licorice root also has been used as a sweetener.
  • Today, people use licorice root as a dietary supplement for digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections. People also use it as a shampoo.
  • Licorice is harvested from the plants’ roots and underground stems. Licorice supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.
  • Glycyrrhizin—a compound found in licorice root—has been tested in a few clinical trials in hepatitis C patients, but there’s currently not enough evidence to determine if it’s helpful. Laboratory studies done in Japan (where an injectable glycyrrhizin compound is used in people with chronic hepatitis C who do not respond to conventional treatment) suggest that glycyrrhizin may have some effect against hepatitis C.
  • There’s some evidence that topical licorice extract may improve skin rash symptoms, such as redness, swelling, and itching.
  • A Finnish study of mothers and their young children suggested that eating a lot of actual licorice root during pregnancy may harm a child’s developing brain, leading to reasoning and behavioral issues, such as attention problems, rule-breaking, and aggression.
  • Studies of licorice root extracts in people for cavities, mouth ulcers, and oral yeast infections have returned mixed results.

Safety Concerns

  • In large amounts and with long-term use, licorice root can cause high blood pressure and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart and muscle problems. Some side effects are thought to be due to a chemical called glycyrrhizic acid. Licorice that has had this chemical removed (called DGL for deglycyrrhizinated licorice) may not have the same degree of side effects.
  • Taking licorice root containing glycyrrhizinic acid with medications that reduce potassium levels such as diuretics might be bad for your heart.
  • Pregnant women should avoid using licorice root as a supplement or consuming large amounts of it as food.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.