Exit

Nutritional Supplement

Licorice

  • Immune System Support

    Common Cold and Sore Throat

    In one study, Throat Coat tea was effective in providing rapid, temporary relief of sore throat pain in people with acute pharyngitis.
    Common Cold and Sore Throat
    ×
     

    In a double-blind study, a proprietary product containing marshmallow root, licorice root, and elm bark (Throat Coat) was effective in providing rapid, temporary relief of sore throat pain in people with acute pharyngitis.9 Throat Coat was taken as a tea in the amount of 5 to 8 ounces, 4 to 6 times per day, for two to seven days.

    HIV and AIDS Support

    Licorice inhibits HIV reproduction in test tubes, supplementing with it may be safe and effective for long-term treatment of HIV infection.
    HIV and AIDS Support
    ×
     

    Licorice has shown the ability to inhibit reproduction of HIV in test tubes.10 Clinical trials have shown that injections of glycyrrhizin (isolated from licorice) may have a beneficial effect on AIDS.11 There is preliminary evidence that orally administered licorice also may be safe and effective for long-term treatment of HIV infection.12 Amounts of licorice or glycyrrhizin used for treating HIV-positive people warrant monitoring by a physician, because long-term use of these substances can cause high blood pressure, potassium depletion, or other problems. Approximately 2 grams of licorice root should be taken per day in capsules or as tea. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) will not inhibit HIV.

    Cough

    Licorice has a long history of use for relieving coughs.
    Cough
    ×

    The mucilage of slippery elm gives it a soothing effect for coughs. Usnea also contains mucilage, which may be helpful in easing irritating coughs. There is a long tradition of using wild cherry syrups to treat coughs. Other traditional remedies to relieve coughs include bloodroot, catnip, comfrey (the above-ground parts, not the root), horehound, elecampane, mullein, lobelia, hyssop, licorice, mallow, (Malvia sylvestris),red clover, ivy leaf, pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides, Mentha pulegium),onion, (Allium cepa), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata, P. major). None of these has been investigated in human trials, so their true efficacy for relieving coughs is unknown.13

    HIV and AIDS Support

    The herbal formula sho-saiko-to has been shown to have beneficial immune effects on white blood cells in people infected with HIV.
    HIV and AIDS Support
    ×
     

    The Chinese herb bupleurum, as part of the herbal formula sho-saiko-to, has been shown to have beneficial immune effects on white blood cells taken from people infected with HIV.14 Sho-saiko-to has also been shown to improve the efficacy of the anti-HIV drug lamivudine in the test tube.15 One preliminary study found that 7 of 13 people with HIV given sho-saiko-to had improvements in immune function.16 Double-blind trials are needed to determine whether bupleurum or sho-saiko-to might benefit people with HIV infection or AIDS. Other herbs in sho-saiko-to have also been shown to have anti-HIV activity in the test tube, most notably Asian scullcap.17 Therefore studies on sho-saiko-to cannot be taken to mean that bupleurum is the only active herb involved. The other ingredients are peony root, pinellia root, cassia bark, ginger root, jujube fruit, Asian ginseng root, Asian scullcap root, and licorice root.

  • Digestive Support

    Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity

    Licorice protects the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract by increasing the production of mucin, a compound that protects against the adverse effects of stomach acid and various harmful substances.
    Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
    ×
     

    Demulcents herbs may be used to treat indigestion and heartburn. These herbs seem to work by decreasing inflammation and forming a physical barrier against stomach acid or other abdominal irritants. Examples of demulcent herbs include ginger, licorice, and slippery elm.

    Licorice protects the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract by increasing the production of mucin, a compound that protects against the adverse effects of stomach acid and various harmful substances.18 The extract of licorice root that is most often used by people with indigestion is known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Glycyrrhizin, which occurs naturally in licorice root, has cortisone-like effects and can cause high blood pressure, water retention, and other problems in some people. When the glycyrrhizin is removed to form DGL, the licorice root retains its beneficial effects against indigestion, while the risk of side effects is greatly reduced. The usual suggested amount of DGL is one or two chewable tablets (250–500 mg per tablet), chewed and swallowed 15 minutes before meals and one to two hours before bedtime.19 Although many research trials show that DGL is helpful for people with peptic ulcers, the use of DGL for heartburn and indigestion is based primarily on anecdotal information.

    Gastritis

    Licorice root has been traditionally used to soothe stomach inflammation and injury. Its flavonoid constituents have been found to stall the growth of H. pylori in test tube studies.
    Gastritis
    ×
     

    Many of the same herbs that are helpful for peptic ulcers may also aid people with gastritis. Licorice root, for example, has been traditionally used to soothe inflammation and injury in the stomach. Its flavonoid constituents have been found to stall the growth of H. pylori in test tube studies.20 However, there have been no clinical trials using licorice to treat gastritis. To avoid potential side effects, such as increasing blood pressure and water weight gain, many physicians recommend deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). This form of licorice retains its healing qualities by removing the glycyrrhizin that causes problems in some people.

    Ulcerative Colitis

    Licorice is an anti-inflammatory and soothing herb that may be effective in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
    Ulcerative Colitis
    ×
     

    Aloe vera juice has anti-inflammatory activity and been used by some doctors for people with UC. In a double-blind study of people with mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis, supplementation with aloe resulted in a complete remission or an improvement in symptoms in 47% of cases, compared with 14% of those given a placebo (a statistically significant difference).21 No significant side effects were seen. The amount of aloe used was 100 ml (approximately 3.5 ounces) twice a day for four weeks. Other traditional anti-inflammatory and soothing herbs, including calendula, flaxseed, licorice, marshmallow, myrrh, and yarrow. Many of these herbs are most effective, according to clinical experience, if taken internally as well as in enema form.22 Enemas should be avoided during acute flare-ups but are useful for mild and chronic inflammation. It is best to consult with a doctor experienced with botanical medicine to learn more about herbal enemas before using them. More research needs to be done to determine the effectiveness of these herbs.

    Crohn’s Disease

    Licorice is an anti-inflammatory herb historically recommended by doctors for people with Crohn’s disease.
    Crohn’s Disease
    ×
     

    A variety of anti-inflammatory herbs historically have been recommended by doctors for people with Crohn’s disease. These include yarrow, chamomile, licorice, and aloe juice. Cathartic preparations of aloe should be avoided. No research has been conducted to validate the use of these herbs for Crohn’s disease.

  • Healthy Pregnancy and New Baby

    Colic

    A soothing tea made from chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, and lemon balm has been shown to relieve colic more effectively than placebo.
    Colic
    ×
     

    Carminatives are a class of herbs commonly used for infants with colic. These herbs tend to relax intestinal spasms.

    Chamomile is a carminative with long history of use as a calming herb and may be used to ease intestinal cramping in colicky infants. A soothing tea made from chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, and lemon balm has been shown to relieve colic more effectively than placebo.23 In this study, approximately 1/2 cup (150 ml) of tea was given during each colic episode up to a maximum of three times per day.

  • Allergy and Lung Support

    Asthma

    Licorice, which has a soothing effect on bronchioles, has traditionally been used for asthma.
    Asthma
    ×
     

    Traditionally, herbs that have a soothing action on bronchioles are also used for asthma. These include marshmallow, mullein, hyssop, and licorice. Elecampane has been used traditionally to treat coughs associated with asthma.24

    Hay Fever

    The Japanese herbal formula known as sho-seiryu-to has been shown to reduce symptoms, such as sneezing, for people with hay fever.
    Hay Fever
    ×
     

    The Japanese herbal formula known as sho-seiryu-to has been shown to reduce symptom, such as sneezing, for people with hay fever.25 Sho-seiryu-to contains licorice, cassia bark, schisandra, ma huang, ginger, peony root, pinellia, and asiasarum root.

  • Menopause Support

    Menopause

    Licorice is an herb with weak estrogen-like actions similar to soy. In one trial, a formula containing licorice, burdock, dong quai, wild yam, and motherwort reduced menopause symptoms.
    Menopause
    ×
     

    A variety of herbs with weak estrogen-like actions similar to the effects of soy have traditionally been used for women with menopausal symptoms.26 These herbs include licorice, alfalfa, and red clover. In a double-blind trial, a formula containing tinctures of licorice, burdock, dong quai, wild yam, and motherwort (30 drops three times daily) was found to reduce symptoms of menopause.27 No effects on hormone levels were detected in this study. In a separate double-blind trial, supplementation with dong quai (4.5 grams three times daily in capsules) had no effect on menopausal symptoms or hormone levels.28 A double-blind trial using a standardized extract of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), a relative of red clover, containing 40 mg isoflavones per tablet did not impact symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, though it did improve function of the arteries.29 An extract of red clover, providing 82 mg of isoflavones per day, also was ineffective in a 12-week double-blind study.30 In another double-blind study, however, administration of 80 mg of isoflavones per day from red clover reduced the frequency of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. The benefit was noticeable after 4 weeks of treatment and became more pronounced after a total of 12 weeks.31

  • Women's Health

    Menopause

    Licorice is an herb with weak estrogen-like actions similar to soy. In one trial, a formula containing licorice, burdock, dong quai, wild yam, and motherwort reduced menopause symptoms.
    Menopause
    ×
     

    A variety of herbs with weak estrogen-like actions similar to the effects of soy have traditionally been used for women with menopausal symptoms.32 These herbs include licorice, alfalfa, and red clover. In a double-blind trial, a formula containing tinctures of licorice, burdock, dong quai, wild yam, and motherwort (30 drops three times daily) was found to reduce symptoms of menopause.33 No effects on hormone levels were detected in this study. In a separate double-blind trial, supplementation with dong quai (4.5 grams three times daily in capsules) had no effect on menopausal symptoms or hormone levels.34 A double-blind trial using a standardized extract of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), a relative of red clover, containing 40 mg isoflavones per tablet did not impact symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, though it did improve function of the arteries.35 An extract of red clover, providing 82 mg of isoflavones per day, also was ineffective in a 12-week double-blind study.36 In another double-blind study, however, administration of 80 mg of isoflavones per day from red clover reduced the frequency of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. The benefit was noticeable after 4 weeks of treatment and became more pronounced after a total of 12 weeks.37

  • Skin Protection

    Eczema

    Licorice may help eczema through its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to affect the immune system.
    Eczema
    ×
      

    Zemaphyte, a traditional Chinese herbal preparation that includes licorice as well as nine other herbs, has been successful in treating childhood and adult eczema in double-blind trials.38,39,40 One or two packets of the combination is mixed in hot water and taken once per day. Because one study included the same amount of licorice in both the placebo and the active medicine, it is unlikely that licorice is the main active component of Zemaphyte.41

    Several Chinese herbal creams for eczema have been found to be adulterated with steroids. The authors of one study found that 8 of 11 Chinese herbal creams purchased without prescription in England contained a powerful steroid drug used to treat inflammatory skin conditions.42

  • Pain Management

    Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia

    Licorice has been used as a topical treatment for shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.
    Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia
    ×
     

    Licorice has been used by doctors as a topical agent for shingles and postherpetic neuralgia; however, no clinical trials support its use for this purpose. Glycyrrhizin, one of the active components of licorice, has been shown to block the replication of Varicella zoster.43 Licorice gel is usually applied three or more times per day. Licorice gel is not widely available but may be obtained through a doctor who practices herbal medicine.

  • Energy Support

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    A case report described a man with CFS whose symptoms improved after taking 2.5 grams of licorice root daily.
    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    ×
     

    One case report described a man with CFS whose symptoms improved after taking 2.5 grams of licorice root daily.44 While there have been no controlled trials to test licorice in patients with CFS, it may be worth a trial of six to eight weeks using 2 to 3 grams of licorice root daily.

What Are Star Ratings?
×
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

Temp Title
×
Temp Text

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Licorice has a long and highly varied record of uses. It was and remains one of the most important herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Among its most consistent and important uses are as a demulcent (soothing, coating agent) in the digestive and urinary tracts, to help with coughs, to soothe sore throats, and as a flavoring. It has also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat conditions ranging from diabetes to tuberculosis.

References

1. Whorwood CB, Shepard MC, Stewart PM. Licorice inhibits 11ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase messenger ribonucleic acid levels and potentiates glucocorticoid hormone action. Endocrinology 1993;132:2287-92.

2. Soma R, Ikeda M, Morise T, et al. Effect of glycyrrhizin on cortisol metabolism in humans. Endocrin Regulations 1994;28:31-4.

3. Beil W, Birkholz C, Sewing KF. Effects of flavonoids on parietal cell acid secretion, gastric mucosal prostaglandin production and Helicobacter pylori growth. Arzneimittelforschung 1995;45:697-700.

4. Amer M, Metwalli M. Topical liquiritin improves melasma. Int J Dermatol 2000;39:299-301.

5. Morgan AG, McAdam WAF, Pacsoo C, Darnborough A. Comparison between cimetidine and Caved-S in the treatment of gastric ulceration, and subsequent maintenance therapy. Gut 1982;23:545-51.

6. Kassir ZA. Endoscopic controlled trial of four drug regimens in the treatment of chronic duodenal ulceration. Ir Med J 1985;78:153-6.

7. Bardhan KD, Cumberland DC, Dixon RA, Holdsworth CD. Clinical trial of deglycyrrhizinised liquorice in gastric ulcer. Gut 1978;19:779-82.

8. Das SK, Gulati AK, Singh VP. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice in aphthous ulcers. J Assoc Physicians India 1989; 37:647.

9. Brinckmann J, Sigwart H, van Houten Taylor L. Safety and efficacy of a traditional herbal medicine (Throat Coat) in symptomatic temporary relief of pain in patients with acute pharyngitis: a multicenter, prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. J Altern Complement Med 2003;9:285-98.

10. Ito M, Sato A, Hirabayashi K, et al. Mechanism of inhibitory effect of glycyrrhizin on replication of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Antivir Res 1988;10:289-98.

11. Hattori I, Ikematsu S, Koito A, et al. Preliminary evidence for inhibitory effect of glycyrrhizin on HIV replication in patients with AIDS. Antivir Res 1989;11:255-62.

12. Ikegami N, Akatani K, Imai M, et al. Prophylactic effect of long-term oral administration of glycyrrhizin on AIDS development of asymptomatic patients. Int Conf AIDS 1993;9:234 [abstract PO-A25-0596].

13. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs.Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1999.

14. Inada Y, Watanabe K, Kamiyama M, et al. In vitro immunomodulatory effects of traditional Kampo medicine (sho-saiko-to: SST) on peripheral mononuclear cells in patients with AIDS. Biomed Pharmacother 1990;44:17-9.

15. Piras G, Makino M, Baba M. Sho-saiko-to, a traditional kampo medicine, enhances the anti-HIV-1 activity of lamivudine (3TC) in vitro. Microbiol Immunol 1997;41:835-9.

16. Fujimaki M, Hada M, Ikematsu S, et al. Clinical efficacy of two kinds of kampo medicine on HIV infected patients. Int Conf AIDS 1989;5:400 [abstract no. W.B.P.292].

17. Li BQ, Fu T, Yan YD, et al. Inhibition of HIV infection by baicalin—a flavonoid compound purified from Chinese herbal medicine. Cell Mol Biol Res 1993;39:119-24.

18. Goso Y, Ogata Y, Ishihara K, Hotta K. Effects of traditional herbal medicine on gastric acid. Biochem Physiol 1996;113C:17-21.

19. Reed PI, Davies WA. Controlled trial of a carbenoxolone/alginate antacid combination in reflux oesophagitis. Curr Med Res Opin 1978;5:637-44.

20. Beil W, Birkholz C, Sewing KF. Effects of flavonoids on parietal cell acid secretion, gastric mucosal prostaglandin production and Helicobacter pylori growth. Arzneimittelforschung 1995;45:697-700.

21. Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;19:739-47.

22. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1989, 114-5.

23. Weizman Z, Alkrinawi S, Goldfarb D, et al. Efficacy of herbal tea preparation in infantile colic. J Pediatr 1993;122:650-2.

24. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 222-4.

25. Baba S, Takasaka T. Double-blind clinical trial of sho-seiryu-to (TJ-19) for perennial nasal allergy. Clin Otolaryngol 1995;88:389-405.

26. Crawford AM. The Herbal Menopause Book. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1996.

27. Hudson TS, Standish L, Breed C, et al. Clinical and endocrinological effects of a menopausal botanical formula. J Naturopathic Med 1997;7(1):73-7.

28. Hirata JD, Swiersz LM, Zell B, et al. Does dong quai have estrogenic effects in postmenopausal women? A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Fertil Steril 1997;68:981-6.

29. Nestel PJ, Pomeroy S, Kay S, et al. Isoflavones from red clover improve systemic arterial compliance but not plasma lipids in menopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999;84:895-8.

30. Tice JA, Ettinger B, Ensrud K, et al. Phytoestrogen supplements for the treatment of hot flashes: the Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) Study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2003;290:207-14.

31. van de Weijer PHM, Barentsen R. Isoflavones from red clover (Promensil®) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas 2002;42:187-93.

32. Crawford AM. The Herbal Menopause Book. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1996.

33. Hudson TS, Standish L, Breed C, et al. Clinical and endocrinological effects of a menopausal botanical formula. J Naturopathic Med 1997;7(1):73-7.

34. Hirata JD, Swiersz LM, Zell B, et al. Does dong quai have estrogenic effects in postmenopausal women? A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Fertil Steril 1997;68:981-6.

35. Nestel PJ, Pomeroy S, Kay S, et al. Isoflavones from red clover improve systemic arterial compliance but not plasma lipids in menopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999;84:895-8.

36. Tice JA, Ettinger B, Ensrud K, et al. Phytoestrogen supplements for the treatment of hot flashes: the Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) Study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2003;290:207-14.

37. van de Weijer PHM, Barentsen R. Isoflavones from red clover (Promensil®) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas 2002;42:187-93.

38. Sheehan MP, Atherton DJ. One-year follow up of children treated with Chinese medical herbs for atopic eczema. Br J Dermatol 1994;130:488-93.

39. Sheehan MP, Rustin MH, Atherton DJ, et al. Efficacy of traditional Chinese herbal therapy in adult atopic dermatitis. Lancet 1992;340:13-7.

40. Sheehan M, Stevens H, Ostlere L, et al. Follow-up of adult patients with atopic eczema treated with Chinese herbal therapy for 1 year. Clin Exp Dermatol 1995;20:136-40.

41. Sheehan MP, Atherton DJ. A controlled trial of traditional Chinese medicinal plants in widespread non-exudative atopic eczema. Br J Dermatol 1992;126:179-84.

42. Keane FM, Munn SE, du Vivier AWP, et al. Analysis of Chinese herbal creams prescribed for dermatological conditions. BMJ 1999;318:563-4.

43. Baba M, Shigeta S. Antiviral activity of glycyrrhizin against varicella-zoster virus in vitro. Antivir Res 1987;7:99-107.

44. Baschetti R. Chronic fatigue syndrome and liquorice. New Z Med J 1995;108:156-7 [letter].

45. Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1995, 228-39.

46. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al, eds. The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 161-2.

47. Armanini D, Bonanni G, Palermo M. Reduction of serum testosterone in men by licorice. New Engl J Med 1999;341:1158 [letter].

48. Josephs RA, Guinn JS, Harper ML, Askari F. Liquorice consumption and salivary testosterone concentrations. Lancet 2001;358:1613-4.

49. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 161-2.

Copyright © 2019 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. www.healthnotes.com

Learn more about Healthnotes, the company.

The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.