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Health Benefits and Side Effects of Licorice

  • 4.8 (5 Votes)

Licorice or liquorice has been used as both food and medicine. It helps in treating constipation, cancer, heartburn, stomach ulcers, inflammation of stomach lining and leaky gut.Licorice is also used as an additive in tobacco products. Excess of Licorice may lead to side effects in form of increased blood pressure, low potassium levels, brain damage and even paralysis.

Licorice or Liquorice is plant native of southern Europe and Asia. It has been used as sweeteners, candies and tobacco products. It has many health benefits and has been used in several herbal and folk medicines because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Licorice is taken by mouth for several digestive system problems, which include ulcers, heartburn, colic and ongoing inflammation of the stomach lining. Some people consume it for a sore throat, cough, bronchitis and infections caused due to bacteria or viruses.

While some people use licorice as a shampoo for reducing oiliness of while others use it as a gel for inflamed skin and itchy scalp. It is also used as a solution to stop bleeding.

What are health benefits of Licorice?

Uses of licorice can be summarized as:

1- An Anti-inflammatory component: In an analysis, it was found that licorice extract has anti-inflammatory activities. It promotes regulatory T cells in mice thus, suggested that licorice is capable of protecting against autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

If dehydroglyasperin C (a licorice flavonoid) is used for treatment, it stops brain’s pro-inflammatory activity and helps in preventing neuron cell death. It also helps in preventing against alcohol-induced liver injury by decreasing the crucial liver inflammation markers.

2- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases:Patients with high cholesterol must consume deglycyrrhizinated licorice for at least a year. It will help in decreasing the total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels. However, regular consumption of liquorice which has glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhizic acid will let the body to excrete more potassium and increases the blood pressure thus, worsen the heart conditions.

3- Helpful in losing weight: Licorice flavonoid oil enhances the fat oxidation during light exercises thus help in shedding weight. Licorice powder is also effective inreducing body weight and fat deposition. 

Helpful in losing weight

4- Licorice protects brain:Due to the presence of Glabridin, which is a major flavonoid of Glycyrrhizaglabra, it helps in protecting the brain from major stroke related injuries. Flavonoids also prevent oxidative damage in the brain while antioxidant effects help in decreasing seizure induced brain cell death.

5- It might help in preventing cancer growth: Licorice components are effective against every cancer type. It includes reducing the cell proliferation; inflammation, cell death resistance and creating its own blood vessels. A polysaccharide from licorice in oral cancer cell line promotes apoptosis, which is useful in preventing cancer cells growth.

6- Licorice helps in healing gut inflammation and ulcers:It is a good ingredient, which can be used for the treatment for standard clarithromycin triple therapy for Helicobacter pylori by increasing the elimination rate of H.pylori by 20%. Licorice also helps in dyspepsia

7- Menopausal Symptoms: Licorice is effective than any hormone replacement therapy as it reduces the hot flash duration apart from hot flash severity. Liquiritigenin is MF101 part, which is an herbal extract formula, helps in menopausal hot flashes.

8- Helps with PCOS: Licorice if taken with spironolactone helps in reducing the polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms in women. Glycyrrhetinic acid helps in reducing the testosterone levels along with regular ovulation.

9- Helps in fighting infections:With antioxidant properties, licorice helps in stimulating the immune system. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

10- Helps in sleeping better: Glycyrrhizaglabra helps in inducing sleep and increases the sleep duration.

Helps in sleeping better

11- Might be beneficial for male infertility: Licorice extract helps in sperm production, which may help in treating male infertility.

What are the common side effects of licorice?

Licorice has its own benefits but excess or chronic consumption can lead to unwanted complications as well as health troubles.

1- If taken in large quantity, licorice can increase the cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone and popularly known to be as stress hormone.

2- Causes high blood pressure: Excess cortisol leads to hypertension i.e. high blood pressure. The effects of glycyrrhizic acid are greater in women than men.

3- It slows down the drug metabolism as multiple components of licorice such as liquiritigenin and isoliquiritigenin, which has CYP3A4 gene and cytochrome P450 enzymes. Once P450 enzymes are inactive, it will result in slow drug metabolism and increases the concentration in blood. Thus, increasing the side effects of the drug.

4- Excess consumption lowers potassium levels: Excessive licorice consumption can lead to hypokalemia i.e. low potassium and muscle weakness. Licorice induces hypokalemia leads to arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and further causes heart problems.

5- Can cause problems during pregnancy: In a study, it was found that a Finnish woman who delivered to premature babies had licorice consumption, which was high and was associated with shorter pregnancy duration.

6- Other rare side effects include a decrease in testosterone levels in men, stroke and heart attack.

Is PCOS not letting you conceive? If yes, find the home remedies to treat PCOS naturally without taking any fertility drugs. Infertility medicines should be avoided at any cost because infertility drugs can cause premature menopause in women.

Hope this article helped you in learning about the health benefits and side effects of licorice. Follow Elawoman blog to get regular updates on fertility health and treatments.

Dr. R K Sharma

About The Author

Reproductive Endocrinologist, Hysteroscopic Surgeon Dr. R K Sharma

Dr. R K Sharma has completed MBBS and MD in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Pune University in 1981 and 1989 respectively. Dr. R K Sharma is one of the pioneers in the field of IVF treatment in India. He specializes in IUI, IVF, Embryo transfer and Hysteroscopy procedures. He is also a member of Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Societies of India (FOGSI). Dr. R K Sharma is presently practicing at Primus Super Specialty Hospital, Chanakyapuri, Delhi. To know more, visit


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Pravina Chand

They are suitable to treat infertility, I and my husband both have the dosage of Licorice tablets as we are trying to conceive.

Oct. 11, 2018, 2:44 p.m. 4.5


Krushna Bhusan

I have a viral fever, will the licorice tablets be able to heal my viral fever or I might have some side-effects?

Aug. 13, 2018, 7 p.m. 5.0


Archana Prabhat

I already have a low blood pressure. Can I take licorice tablets as it consists of a side effect like low or high blood pressure already?

July 28, 2018, 1:56 p.m. 5.0


Rebecca Stewart

I don't know how many of you noticed but this licorice or liquorice has its uses in food, medicine and tobacco quite a crazy combo isn't it?

June 2, 2018, 2:40 p.m. 5.0


Abdul Gani Nijamuddin Shaikh

May 7, 2018, 7:27 p.m. 4.5

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