Licorice Root: Not Candy, but an Herbal Remedy
Mention the word “licorice,” and most people think of the chewy black candy that they have been eating since they were kids. But licorice is also a potent herb that has been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL)
Licorice root contains
glycyrrhizin, a substance that can cause fluid retention, increased blood pressure, and loss of potassium, when taken in large amounts, or in moderate amounts for two weeks or more. To prevent this effect, some manufacturers remove glycyrrhizin from the licorice root, to produce a licorice-related product called
Proposed Uses of Licorice
Mouth Sores—DGL might help relieve the discomfort of
Eczema, Psoriasis, and Herpes—A topical licorice cream (often mixed with
Dosage and Safety Issues
For ulcer treatment, the standard dose of DGL is 2-4 380 mg tablets taken before meals and at bedtime. For mouth pain, the tablets can be slowly dissolved in the mouth.
The standard dose of whole licorice is 5-15 grams per day. However, you should not use doses this high for more than one week. Excessive use of licorice (not DGL) may increase blood pressure and cause fluid retention, headache, and loss of potassium.
A maximum adult dose of 0.3 grams of licorice root per day has been recommended by experts for long-term use. Larger doses should only be taken under the supervision of your doctor.
Licorice is also available in a liquid form.
Other Side Effects
Whole licorice reduces testosterone in men, and therefore may adversely affect fertility or libido. Licorice use should be avoided by women who are pregnant or nursing, or who have had
When taken with thiazide diuretic medicine, licorice may increase potassium loss. Sensitivity to digitalis glycosides may occur with loss of potassium. Licorice should not be taken with the following medications:
- Cardiac glycosides
- Stimulant laxatives
- Any potassium-depleting drugs
- Antihypertnesive medicines
If you are considering taking licorice root or DGL, talk to your doctor first to rule out potential drug interactions or other concerns.
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health
Canadian Pharmacists Association
Complementary therapies. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences website. Available at: http://www.mcphs.edu/.
Licorice. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=114. Updated February 2010. Accessed June 21, 2010.
Last reviewed June 2010 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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