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licorice root plant

© 2018 Steven Foster

A licorice root monograph for the home

Latin Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Common Names: licorice root, licorice, liquorice, sweet root, gan cao, gan-zao, Chinese licorice

This licorice root monograph provides basic information about licorice root—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.


Licorice Root Basics

  • Most licorice root grows in Greece, Turkey, and Asia. Anise oil is often used instead of licorice root to flavor licorice candy.
  • Centuries ago, licorice root was used in Greece, China, and Egypt for stomach inflammation and upper respiratory problems. Licorice root also has been used as a sweetener.
  • Today, people use licorice root as a dietary supplement for digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections. People also use it as a shampoo.
  • Licorice is harvested from the plants’ roots and underground stems. Licorice supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.

Licorice Root in Health Research

  • A number of studies of licorice root in people have been published, but not enough to support the use for any specific health condition.

Licorice Root Research Summary

  • Glycyrrhizin—a compound found in licorice root—has been tested in a few clinical trials in hepatitis C patients, but there’s currently not enough evidence to determine if it’s helpful. Laboratory studies done in Japan (where an injectable glycyrrhizin compound is used in people with chronic hepatitis C who do not respond to conventional treatment) suggest that glycyrrhizin may have some effect against hepatitis C.
  • There’s some evidence that topical licorice extract may improve skin rash symptoms, such as redness, swelling, and itching.
  • A Finnish study of mothers and their young children suggested that eating a lot of actual licorice root during pregnancy may harm a child’s developing brain, leading to reasoning and behavioral issues, such as attention problems, rule-breaking, and aggression.
  • Studies of licorice root extracts in people for cavities, mouth ulcers, and oral yeast infections have returned mixed results.

Licorice Root Safety

  • In large amounts and with long-term use, licorice root can cause high blood pressure and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart and muscle problems. Some side effects are thought to be due to a chemical called glycyrrhizic acid. Licorice that has had this chemical removed (called DGL for deglycyrrhizinated licorice) may not have the same degree of side effects.
  • Taking licorice root containing glycyrrhizinic acid with medications that reduce potassium levels such as diuretics might be bad for your heart.
  • Pregnant women should avoid using licorice root as a supplement or consuming large amounts of it as food.

Licorice Root References


PubMed Articles About Glycyrrhiza glabra

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from:

Yoon, JY., Cha, JM., Hong, SS., Kim, HK., Kwak, MS., Jeon, JW., Shin, HP., (2021) Fermented milk containing Lactobacillus paracasei and Glycyrrhiza glabra has a beneficial effect in patients with Helicobacter pylori infection: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Lactobacillus paracasei and Glycyrrhiza glabra have been reported as having beneficial effects on Helicobacter pylori infection. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of fermented milk containing L paracasei HP7 and G glabra in patients with H pylori infection.

Akbari, N., Asadimehr, N., Kiani, Z., (2020) The effects of licorice containing diphenhydramine solution on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: A double-blind, randomized clinical trial.

The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of the diphenhydramine solution (DS) and diphenhydramine-containing glycyrrhiza glabra (DSG) in the treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS).

Petramfar, P., Hajari, F., Yousefi, G., Azadi, S., Hamedi, A., (2020) Efficacy of oral administration of licorice as an adjunct therapy on improving the symptoms of patients with Parkinson's disease, A randomized double blinded clinical trial.

Licorice preparations are used as neuroprotective remedies in Persian ethnomedicine, in order to prevent from disabilities in neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's disease (PD).

Tharakan, AP., Pawar, M., Kale, S., (2021) Effectiveness of licorice in preventing dental caries in children: A systematic review.

Dental caries is one of the most prevailing oral health diseases in children. Recent times have focused on herbal products, because they have minimum or no side effects and are effective in prevention. Licorice is one such product belonging to Glycyrrhiza family used in the form of dentifrice, chewing gums, lollipop, gels, etc., Literature reports about the activity of licorice root extract on the biofilm thereby reducing Streptococcus mutans (SM) count and preventing dental caries in children.

Kuriyama, A., Maeda, H., (2019) Topical application of licorice for prevention of postoperative sore throat in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Postoperative sore throat negatively affects patient satisfaction and recovery. It may be related to inflammation of the mucosa caused by injury during intubation. Licorice, derived from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, contains active anti-inflammatory ingredients. The efficacy and safety of topical licorice for preventing postoperative sore throat in adults undergoing tracheal intubation for general anesthesia were assessed by a systematic review and meta-analysis.