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  • Encyclopedia

Licorice

Also indexed as: Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, DG Licorice
Licorice: Main Image© Steven Foster
Botanical names:
Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Parts Used & Where Grown

Originally from central Europe, licorice now grows all across Europe and Asia. The root is used medicinally.

  • 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.

Licorice has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Colic
(Chamomile, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Vervain)
1/2 cup (118 ml) of tea up to three times daily2 stars[2 stars] A soothing tea made from chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, and lemon balm has been shown to relieve colic more effectively than placebo.
Common Cold and Sore Throat
(Elm Bark, Marshmallow)
5 to 8 ounces of tea, four to six times per day, for two to seven days2 stars[2 stars] In one study, Throat Coat tea was effective in providing rapid, temporary relief of sore throat pain in people with acute pharyngitis.
Epilepsy
(Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Chinese Scullcap, Ginger, Jujube, Peony, Pinellia)
2.5 grams a day of sho-saiko-to or saiko-keishi-to in tea or capsules 2 stars[2 stars] The Chinese herb bupleurum is included in two herbal formulas, sho-saiko-to and saiko-keishi-to. Both have been shown to be helpful for epilepsy.
Hepatitis
(Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Chinese Scullcap, Ginger, Jujube, Peony, Pinellia)
Take 2.5 grams of sho-saiko-to three times per day2 stars[2 stars] Trials have shown that the bupleurum-containing formula sho-saiko-to can help reduce symptoms and blood liver enzyme levels in people with chronic active viral hepatitis.
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars] Licorice inhibits HIV reproduction in test tubes, supplementing with it may be safe and effective for long-term treatment of HIV infection.
Liver Cirrhosis
(Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Chinese Scullcap, Ginger, Jujube, Peony, Pinellia)
2.5 grams of the Chinese herbal formula sho-saiko-to three times daily2 stars[2 stars] The Chinese herb bupleurum is a component of the formula sho-saiko-to, which was shown in one preliminary trial to liver cancer risk in people with liver cirrhosis.
Asthma
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] Licorice, which has a soothing effect on bronchioles, has traditionally been used for asthma.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] A case report described a man with CFS whose symptoms improved after taking 2.5 grams of licorice root daily.
Cough
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] Licorice has a long history of use for relieving coughs.
Crohn’s Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] Licorice is an anti-inflammatory herb historically recommended by doctors for people with Crohn’s disease.
Eczema
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] Licorice may help eczema through its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to affect the immune system.
Gastritis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] 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.
Genital Herpes
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] Licorice root contains antiviral substances, and ointments containing related substances are effective in treating herpes infections.
Hay Fever
(Asiasarum Root, Cassia Bark, Ginger, Ma Huang, Peony, Pinellia, Schisandra)
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] The Japanese herbal formula known as sho-seiryu-to has been shown to reduce symptoms, such as sneezing, for people with hay fever.
HIV and AIDS Support
(Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Chinese Scullcap, Ginger, Jujube, Peony, Pinellia)
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] The herbal formula sho-saiko-to has been shown to have beneficial immune effects on white blood cells in people infected with HIV.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] 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.
Menopause
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] 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.
Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] Licorice has been used as a topical treatment for shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.
Ulcerative Colitis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star] Licorice is an anti-inflammatory and soothing herb that may be effective in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

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.

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The information presented in Aisle7 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.

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