Licorice Root - Get the Facts on Herbal Supplements

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  • Licorice root has been used as a dietary supplement A product that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or other ingredients intended to supplement the diet.<a href="#hdng0">(More...)</a>

  • A substance prepared from dried roots of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra.<a href="#hdng1">(More...)</a>



<a name="hdng0"></a>Licorice root has been used as a dietary supplement A product that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or other ingredients intended to supplement the diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has special labeling requirements for dietary supplements and treats them as foods, not drugs. for stomach ulcers, bronchitis, and sore throat, as well as infections caused by viruses, such as hepatitis. <a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Includes flowers, leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, stems, and roots. or dietary supplement you are using, including licorice root. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Glycyrrhizinic acid in licorice root extract is hydrolyzed to glycyrrhetic acid (GA); GA inhibits 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, resulting in inhibition of the conversion of cortisol to the inactive steroid cortisone and elevated cortisol levels.<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=471833" TARGET="_blank" [2]</a> Licorice root extract contains several compounds that reduce inflammation, kill certain bacteria and viruses, act like estrogen and other hormones, and may cause cancer cells to die. It is a type of antioxidant.<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/db_alpha.aspx?CdrID=549694" TARGET="_blank" [3]</a>

Licorice powdered root (4 percent to 9 percent glycyrrhizin): Doses of 1-4 grams taken by mouth daily, divided into three or four doses, have been used.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> The medicinally used part of licorice is the root and dried rhizome of the low-growing shrub Glycyrrhiza glabra.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

Cinatl J, Morgenstern B, Bauer G, et al. Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

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<a name="hdng1"></a>A substance prepared from dried roots of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. It is used as a flavoring in medicines, drinks, and sweets, and it is being studied in the treatment of cancer. <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/db_alpha.aspx?CdrID=549694" TARGET="_blank" [3]</a>

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  • Use of licorice with the diuretics hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide (Lasix®) may cause potassium levels to fall very low and lead to dangerous complications.<a href="#hdng2">(More...)</a>



<a name="hdng2"></a>Use of licorice with the diuretics hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide (Lasix®) may cause potassium levels to fall very low and lead to dangerous complications. Other drugs that can also cause potassium levels to fall too low and are best avoided when using licorice include insulin, sodium polystyrene (Kayexalate®), and laxatives. <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Liver metabolism of certain drugs may be affected by licorice but further study is needed before a conclusion can be drawn. Because the toxicity of digoxin (Lanoxin®) is increased when potassium levels are low, people who take digoxin and are interested in using licorice should discuss this with their healthcare provider.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

Increased monitoring may be necessary. Other drugs that may increase the tendency for irregular heart rhythms are also best avoided when using licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> In theory, licorice may increase the risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants (blood thinners) or antiplatelet drugs.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> In general, prescription drugs should be taken one hour before licorice or two hours after licorice because licorice may increase the absorption of many drugs.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> In theory, herbs and supplements that increase the risk of bleeding may further increase the risk of bleeding when taken with licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice may interact with herbs or supplements used for heart disorders. It may also interact with other herbs or supplements with hormonal effects.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure may add to the blood pressure-lowering effects of licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice may reduce the effects of blood pressure or diuretic (urine-producing) drugs, including hydrochlorothiazide and spironolactone.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Metabolic alkalosis and seizure has been reported from licorice in antacid. Licorice has been reported to cause high blood pressure, including dangerously high blood pressure with symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and hypertensive encephalopathy with stroke-like effects (for example, one-sided weakness).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

In theory, because of the known effects of licorice, there may be some benefits of licorice for high potassium levels caused by a condition called hypoaldosteronism. There is early evidence in humans in support of this use.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Early study of a multi-ingredient preparation containing licorice, called Immunoguard™, suggests possible effects in managing FMF. Well-designed study of licorice alone is necessary before a recommendation can be made.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Historically, licorice has been used for its expectorant and anti-tussive effects.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice is still used in sub-therapeutic doses as a sweetening agent in herbal medicines, lozenges, and tobacco products (doses low enough that significant adverse effects are unlikely).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Shakuyaku-kanzo-to, an herbal medicine containing licorice, has been used for neuroleptic-induced hyperprolactinemia. Additional studies are needed in this area.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

Ancient Egyptians prepared a licorice drink for ritual use to honor spirits of the pharaohs. Its use became widespread in Europe and Asia for numerous indications. In addition to its medicinal uses, licorice has been used as a flavoring agent, valued for sweetness (glycyrrhizin, a component of licorice, is 50 times sweeter than table sugar).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice has been used in combination with spironolactone to reduce side effects related to the diuretic activity of spironolactone.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Herbs with monoamine oxidase inhibitor activity may worsen side effects when used at the same time as licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Herbs with potential laxative properties may add to the potassium-lowering effects of licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Herbs with potential diuretic properties may increase adverse effects associated with licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Chewing tobacco may increase the toxicity of licorice gums by causing electrolyte disturbances. Licorice may increase the adverse effects associated with corticosteroids such as prednisolone and monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as isocarboxazid (Marplan®), phenelzine (Nardil®), or tranylcypromine (Parnate®).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Many of the adverse effects of licorice result from actions on hormone levels in the body.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice cannot be recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to possible alterations of hormone levels and the possibility of premature labor.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice may reduce the effects of birth control pills, hormone replacement therapies, or testosterone therapy.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Preliminary data shows that licorice may reduce body fat mass. Further research is needed to confirm these results.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Limited study suggests that licorice may be beneficial in aplastic anemia, but results are inconclusive.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Early study has suggested that recombinant roasted licorice decoction combined with low-dose glucocorticoids may be more effective than glucocorticoids alone in treating idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. This combination has also shown a lower adverse effect rate than glucocorticoids alone.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Treatment now involves replacement of glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids with synthetic compounds, although historically patients took common salt and plant-based preparations, including licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Early studies indicate that the herbal preparation STW 5, which contains licorice among many other herbal extracts, may help improve symptoms in patients with functional dyspepsia.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice fluid extract (10 percent to 20 percent glycyrrhizin): Doses of 2-4 milliliters per day have been taken by mouth.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice contains a chemical called glycyrrhizic acid, which is responsible for many of the reported side effects.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) has had the glycyrrhizic acid removed, and therefore is considered safer for use.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice can be processed to remove the glycyrrhiza, resulting in DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), which does not appear to share the metabolic disadvantages of licorice.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> The generic name "glycyrrhiza" stems from ancient Greek, meaning "sweet root." It was originally used as flavoring for licorice candies, although most licorice candy is now flavored with anise oil.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice has been used in ancient Greece, China, and Egypt, primarily for gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and ailments of the upper respiratory tract.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Because licorice can affect the metabolism of steroids, licorice is sometimes used to help decrease inflammation.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend licorice for use in children, and licorice is not recommended due to potential side effects.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Reduced body fat mass has been observed with the use of licorice, but weight gain is also possible.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

Paralysis has been reported in a patient taking licorice that contributed to low potassium levels.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> By altering the activities of certain hormones, licorice may cause electrolyte disturbances.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects. People should avoid licorice if they have a known allergy to licorice, any component of licorice, or any member of the Fabaceae (Leguminosae) plant family (pea family).<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice may also interact with glucocorticoids, ulcer medications, interferon, or lithium.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Commercial preparation : 3.5 grams a day of a commercial preparation of licorice has been studied for body fat mass reduction.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Most studies are poorly designed and some results conflict. Therefore, it is unclear whether there is any benefit from licorice for this condition.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Topical licorice extract gel has been shown to be effective in the treatment of atopic dermatitis in preliminary human study. Further research is needed to confirm these results.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Some research suggests that licorice extracts, DGL, and the drug carbenoxolone, may provide benefits for treating cankers sores. Studies have been small with flaws in their designs. The safety of DGL makes it an attractive therapy if it does speed healing of these sores, but it is not clear at this time whether there is truly any benefit.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> The licorice extracts DGL and carbenoxolone have been proposed as possible therapies for viral hepatitis.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a> Licorice extracts, DGL and carbenoxolone, have been studied for treating peptic ulcers.<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank" [4]</a>

Licorice can be found with glycyrrhizin removed; the product is called DGL (for "deglycyrrhizinated licorice").<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> People with heart disease or high blood pressure should be cautious about using licorice. When taken in large amounts, licorice can affect the body's levels of a hormone called cortisol and related steroid drugs, such as prednisone.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> In large amounts, licorice containing glycyrrhizin can cause high blood pressure, salt and water retention, and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart problems.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> Taking licorice together with diuretics (water pills) or other medicines that reduce the body's potassium levels could cause dangerously low potassium levels.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Pregnant women should avoid using licorice as a supplement or consuming large amounts of licorice as food, as some research suggests it could increase the risk of preterm labor. Tell your health care providers about any herb A plant or part of a plant used for its flavor, scent, or potential therapeutic properties.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a> The safety of using licorice as a supplement for more than 4 to 6 weeks has not been thoroughly studied.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

This fact sheet provides basic information about licorice root--common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank" [1]</a>

Taking licorice over a long period of time can cause serious side effects, including high blood pressure, headache and sluggishness.<a href="http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/vahep?page=altmed-04-02" TARGET="_blank" [5]</a>
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1. <a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank">Licorice Root--Glycyrrhiza glabra [NCCAM Herbs at a Glance]</a>
<a href="http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/" TARGET="_blank">http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/</a>

2. <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=471833" TARGET="_blank">Definition of licorice root extract - National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary</a>
<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=471833" TARGET="_blank">http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/drugdictionary.aspx?CdrID=471833</a>

3. <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/db_alpha.aspx?CdrID=549694" TARGET="_blank">Definition of licorice root extract - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms</a>
<a href="http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/db_alpha.aspx?CdrID=549694" TARGET="_blank">http://www.cancer.gov/Templates/db_alpha.aspx?CdrID=549694</a>

4. <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank">MedlinePlus Herbs and Supplements: Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)</a>
<a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html" TARGET="_blank">http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-licorice.html</a>

5. <a href="http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/vahep?page=altmed-04-02" TARGET="_blank">Alternative Therapies--Licorice root (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)</a>
<a href="http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/vahep?page=altmed-04-02" TARGET="_blank">http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/vahep?page=altmed-04-02</a>

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