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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Licorice Usage

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Effect of Licorice on Asthma

Licorice root has been used traditionally to restore breathing and calm the air passages, or bronchi.

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Effect of Licorice on Heartburn/GERD

The mechanism of action of the peptic ulcer-healing activity of DGL is not completely understood. In animal studies, DGL was found to boost the differentiation of glandular cells in the forestomach of...

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Effect of Licorice on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Based on the theory mentioned above that CFS might be related to low blood pressure, the herb licorice has been recommended for CFS by some herbalists. Licorice raises blood pressure (and causes other...

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Effect of Licorice on Viral Hepatitis

Licorice may improve liver function and reduce mortality in people with hepatitis. The extract of licorice root is glycyrrhizin. This substance has anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties,1...

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What Is Licorice Used for Today?

DGL has shown some promise for the treatment of ulcers . 1 Weak evidence hints that it might also help prevent ulcers caused by anti-inflammatory drugs. 2 DGL is also sometimes recommended for relieving the discomfort of canker sores and other mouth sores, and one small study suggests that a glycyrrhiza root extract may be effective when applied in the form of a dissolving patch. 3 Creams containing whole licorice (often combined with chamomile extract) are advocated for a variety of skin diseases, including eczema , psoriasis , and herpes , but as yet there is only supporting evidence for the first of these uses. (See What is the Scientific Evidence for Licorice ?).

Whole licorice, not DGL, is used as an expectorant for respiratory problems such as coughs and asthma .

Licorice has been suggested as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) , based on the observation that people with CFS appear to suffer from low levels of certain adrenal hormones. The glycyrrhizin portion of licorice may relieve symptoms by mimicking the effects of these hormones. However, this is a fairly dangerous approach to treatment that should be tried only under medical supervision. In addition, studies of drugs that even more closely imitate adrenal hormones have not found benefit.

Licorice extracts are used intravenously in Japan for treatment of viral hepatitis . 4 However, there is no definite evidence that this treatment is effective; even if this were established, it would not imply that oral licorice would have a similar effect; furthermore, the high dosages used for treatment of chronic hepatitis may cause an elevation of blood pressure and other serious medical problems. Warning: Do not inject preparations of licorice designed for oral use.


  1. Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physicians' Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag; 1998:185.
  2. Rees WD, Rhodes J, Wright JE, Stamford LF, Bennett A. Effect of deglycyrrhizinated liquorice on gastric mucosal damage by aspirin. Scand J Gastroenterol. 14(5):605-7.
  3. Martin MD, Sherman J, van der Ven P, Burgess J. A controlled trial of a dissolving oral patch concerning glycyrrhiza (licorice) herbal extract for the treatment of aphthous ulcers. Gen Dent. 56(2):206-10; quiz 211-2, 224.
  4. Orlent H, Hansen BE, Willems M, Brouwer JT, Huber R, Kullak-Ublick GA, Gerken G, Zeuzem S, Nevens F, Tielemans WC, Zondervan PE, Lagging M, Westin J, Schalm SW. Biochemical and histological effects of 26 weeks of glycyrrhizin treatment in chronic hepatitis C: a randomized phase II trial. J Hepatol. 45(4):539-46.


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