Licorice: Uses, Information, Side effects

Licorice is a plant also known as Acide Glycyrrhizique, Alcacuz, Bois Doux, Bois Sucré, Gan Zao, Glabra, Glycyrrhiza, Glycyrrhizic Acid, Isoflavone, Jethi-Madh, Kanzo, Lakritze, Liquiritiae Radix, Liquirizia, Mulathi, Orozuz, Phytoestrogen, Racine de Réglisse, Régalissse, Regaliz, Regliz, Subholz, Sussholz, Sweet Root, Yashtimadhu, Yashti-Madhu, Yashti-Madhuka, Zhi Gan Cao, and many other names.

Licorice is a common flavoring agent and food product. When used as a food product, licorice is not likely to produce health benefits or side effects. When used as a medicinal product, licorice may produce both desired and unwanted effects on the body.

Licorice has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in treating heartburn when combined with other plants or extracts in a specific preparation. Licorice may also be possibly effective in treating symptoms of eczema (itching, swelling, redness) when applied to the skin.

Other uses not proven with research have included treating psoriasis, canker sores, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, muscle cramps, cancer pain, arthritis, bleeding, stomach ulcers, and many other conditions.

It is not certain whether licorice is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Licorice should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Licorice is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Important Information

Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, licorice is thought to be possibly safe when taken for a short period of time (no longer than 4 weeks).

Long-term use of licorice may cause serious side effects. Stop using this product and call your healthcare provider at once if you have:

  • weakness, loss of movement in any part of the body;
  • high blood pressure–severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, nosebleed, anxiety, shortness of breath;
  • low potassium–confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling; or
  • signs of a brain disorder–confusion, memory problems, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, decreased alertness, or loss of consciousness.

Common side effects may include:

  • headache, tired feeling;
  • missed menstrual periods;
  • fluid retention (swelling, rapid weight gain); or
  • sexual problems in men (loss of interest, impotence, trouble having an orgasm).


Keywords: Licorice

* 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.