Licorice is used for eczema, swelling (inflammation) of the liver (hepatitis), mouth sores, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Licorice is also used to flavor foods, beverages, and tobacco products.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Some experts warn that licorice may interfere with the body's response against COVID-19. There is no strong data to support this warning. But there is also no good data to support using licorice for COVID-19. Follow healthy lifestyle choices and proven prevention methods instead.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis). There is some evidence that applying licorice to the skin can improve symptoms of eczema. Applying a gel containing licorice three times daily for 2 weeks seems to reduce redness, swelling, and itching.
- Canker sores. Most research shows that applying a patch containing licorice to the inside of the mouth reduces the size of canker sores but does not speed up healing time. Rinsing the mouth with a licorice solution seems to help reduce pain and speed up healing of canker sores. Early research shows that gargling with warm water containing licorice also reduces pain in patients with canker sores.
- Side effects in people after breathing tube removal. Sucking on a licorice lozenge or gargling with a licorice fluid shortly before placement of a breathing tube seems to help prevent cough and sore throat from occurring when the tube is removed.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Dental plaque. Early research suggests that using a toothpaste containing licorice twice daily does not reduce plaque, gingivitis, or bleeding when compared to toothpaste without licorice. Using mouthwash containing glycyrrhizin also does not seem to reduce plaque.
- Dry mouth. Early research suggests that taking a licorice mouthwash with every meal for 10 days in people on kidney dialysis with dry mouth might improve feelings of dry mouth but not the amount of saliva produced.
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Early research shows that taking a syrup containing licorice might reduce menstrual cramps as well as the medication ibuprofen.
- A digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori) . Early research shows that taking licorice twice daily together with a standard medication for H. pylori infection cures the infection more than taking a standard medication treatment alone. Licorice may only be helpful for the infection in people with peptic ulcer disease. More research is needed.
- Hepatitis. There is some evidence that certain components in licorice might be effective in treating hepatitis B and hepatitis C when given intravenously (by IV). Early research shows that using a specific IV licorice product seems to reduce death by about 50%. However, the studies involved too few patients to draw firm conclusions.
- High cholesterol. Early research suggests that taking licorice root extract daily for 1 month reduces total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with high cholesterol.
- High potassium levels. Some research suggests that certain components in licorice decrease potassium levels in people with diabetes or kidney problems.
- Mouth sores (lichen planus). Early evidence suggests that administering a certain licorice component intravenously (by IV) improves symptoms of mouth sores in people with hepatitis C.
- Symptoms of menopause. Some early research shows that taking licorice root extract can reduce the number and intensity of hot flashes in menopausal women. Other early research shows that it does not.
- Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Early research suggests that taking 2 grams of licorice root extract daily for 2 months reduces test markers of liver injury in patients with liver disease not caused by drinking alcohol.
- Obesity. Early research shows that taking licorice doesn't reduce body weight in people who are overweight or obese.
- Swelling (inflammation) and sores inside the mouth (oral mucositis). Early research in patients with head and neck cancer shows that taking licorice by mouth and also applying it into the mouth might help to prevent these sores during cancer treatment.
- Parkinson disease. Early research shows that taking licorice by mouth may improve symptoms and tremor in people with Parkinson disease. But higher quality research is needed to confirm.
- Stomach ulcers. There is some evidence that specially prepared licorice will speed up the healing of stomach ulcers. Taking a specific licorice product containing certain antacids for 4-16 weeks might speed up ulcer healing. However, taking similar licorice products that do not contain additional antacids does not appear to improve stomach ulcer symptoms.
- Physical performance in elderly adults. Early research shows that giving licorice oil to older women that exercise does not improve their walking speed or other physical abilities.
- A hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS).
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS).
- An inherited disorder in which the adrenal glands do not make enough hormones (Addison disease).
- A disorder in which the adrenal glands do not make enough hormones (adrenal insufficiency).
- An autoimmune disease that causes widespread swelling (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE).
- An inherited fever disorder (familial Mediterranean fever).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Dark skin patches on the face (melasma).
- Excessive crying in infants (colic).
- High levels of a hormone called prolactin in the blood (hyperprolactinemia).
- Indigestion (dyspepsia).
- Muscle cramps.
- Pain in people with cancer.
- Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis).
- Prostate cancer.
- Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis).
- Other conditions.
Licorice products that contain glycyrrhizin are POSSIBLY UNSAFE to take in large amounts for more than 4 weeks or in smaller amounts, long-term. Eating licorice 5 grams or more daily for several weeks or longer can cause severe side effects. These include very high blood pressure, low potassium levels, weakness, paralysis, irregular heart rhythms, and heart attack. People who eat a lot of salt or have heart disease, kidney disease, or high blood pressure are more sensitive to licorice. They can have these problems after eating smaller amounts of licorice.
People who chew tobacco flavored with licorice, drink licorice tea, or ingest large amounts of candy or lozenges that contain licorice might develop high blood pressure and other serious side effects.
When applied to the skin: Licorice is POSSIBLY SAFE when a gel with licorice root extract 2% is applied to the skin for up to 2 weeks or when the extract is used in a mouth rinse for up to one week. It may cause a rash in some people.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Heart disease: Licorice can cause the body to store water, and this can make congestive heart failure worse. Licorice can also increase the risk of irregular heartbeat. Don't consume licorice if you have heart disease.
Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Licorice might act like estrogen in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use licorice.
High blood pressure: Licorice can raise blood pressure. Don't consume large amounts of it if you have high blood pressure.
A muscle condition caused by nerve problems (hypertonia): Licorice can cause the level of potassium to drop in the blood. This can make hypertonia worse. Avoid licorice if you have hypertonia.
Low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia): Licorice can lower potassium in the blood. If your potassium is already low, licorice might make it too low. Don't use licorice if you have this condition.
Kidney disease: Overuse of licorice could make kidney disease worse. Don't use it.
Sexual problems in men: Licorice can lower a man's interest in sex and also worsen erectile dysfunction (ED) by lowering levels of a hormone called testosterone.
Surgery: Licorice might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgery. Stop taking licorice at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with LICORICE
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. The body breaks down warfarin (Coumadin) to get rid of it. Licorice might increase the breakdown and decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Decreasing the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the risk of clotting. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Do not take this combination
Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with LICORICE
Large amounts of licorice can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).
Estrogens interacts with LICORICE
Licorice seems to change hormone levels in the body. Taking licorice along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.
Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
Ethacrynic Acid (Edecrin) interacts with LICORICE
Licorice can cause the body to get rid of potassium. Ethacrynic acid (Edecrin) can also cause the body to get rid of potassium. Taking licorice and ethacrynic acid (Edecrin) together might cause potassium to become too low.
Furosemide (Lasix) interacts with LICORICE
Licorice can cause the body to get rid of potassium. Furosemide (Lasix) can also cause the body to get rid of potassium. Taking licorice and furosemide together might cause the potassium levels in your body to go too low.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with LICORICE
Large amounts of licorice seem to increase blood pressure. By increasing blood pressure licorice might decrease the effectiveness of medications for high blood pressure.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
Medications for inflammation (Corticosteroids) interacts with LICORICE
Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body. Licorice might also decrease potassium in the body. Taking licorice along with some medications for inflammation might decrease potassium in the body too much.
Some medications for inflammation include dexamethasone (Decadron), hydrocortisone (Cortef), methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisone (Deltasone), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6) substrates) interacts with LICORICE
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Licorice might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking licorice along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking licorice talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some of these medications changed by the liver include ketamine (Ketalar), phenobarbital, orphenadrine (Norflex), secobarbital (Seconal), dexamethasone (Decadron), and others.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with LICORICE
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Licorice might change how the liver breaks down some medications. Taking licorice along with medications that are broken down by the liver might increase or decrease the effects of these medications. Before taking licorice, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), and warfarin (Coumadin).
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with LICORICE
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Licorice might change how the liver breaks down some medications. Taking licorice along with medications that are broken down by the liver might increase or decrease the effects of some medications. Before taking licorice, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with LICORICE
Large amounts of licorice can decrease potassium levels in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking licorice along with "water pills" might decrease potassium in the body too much.
Some "water pills" that can deplete potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDIURIL, Microzide), and others.
Be cautious with this combination
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
- For eczema (atopic dermatitis): Gel products containing 1% or 2% licorice root extract have been applied three times daily for 2 weeks.
- For canker sores: An oral patch containing licorice 0.015-0.229 mg/kg has been used 16 hours daily for 8 days. A patch containing 1% licorice extract has been used. A mouth rinse containing 5% licorice extract has been swished around the mouth for about 3 minutes four times daily until healing. Warm water containing deglycyrrhizinated licorice powder 200 mg has been gargled four times daily for 7 days.
- For side effects in people with a breathing tube: A lozenge containing 97 mg of licorice has been sucked for 30 minutes before anesthesia. Gargling with 30 mL of a fluid containing 0.5 grams of licorice for at least one minute beginning 5 minutes before placement of a breathing tube, has been used.
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