All You Need to Know About Licorice Benefits & Side Effects

Licorice, scientifically known as Glycyrrhiza glabra, is a perennial herbaceous plant that calls the Mediterranean and parts of Asia its home. With compound leaves comprised of small leaflets and tall spikes of lavender to violet-colored flowers, Licorice boasts distinctive features. But its true wonder resides beneath the soil in its intricate root system.

The Treasure Below Ground: Licorice Root

Licorice’s remarkable qualities are hidden in its roots. These roots are characterized by a woody, brown exterior that gives way to a sweet, fibrous interior. It’s from these roots that Licorice extract is derived, a prized ingredient in herbal remedies and traditional medicine.

A Journey Through Time: Licorice’s Historical Significance

Licorice has an illustrious history that spans millennia and transcends various cultures. Its historical significance is rich and varied, including:

Ancient Egypt: Licorice root was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, suggesting its use in ancient Egypt.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: Licorice is a fundamental component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, celebrated for its harmonizing properties and its ability to enhance the effects of other herbs.

Ancient Greece and Rome: Ancient scholars like Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder documented the use of Licorice in their texts, recognizing its value for both flavor and medicinal benefits.

Beyond Medicine: Licorice’s Culinary Appeal

Licorice’s allure extends beyond its medicinal properties. Its unique and appealing flavor makes it a sought-after ingredient in confectioneries, candies, and beverages. Licorice candy, whether in its black or red twists, is cherished across the globe. Additionally, Licorice plays a role in the creation of traditional beverages like herbal teas and liqueurs.

The Natural Sweetness of Licorice

The sweet taste of Licorice is attributed to glycyrrhizin, a compound that is significantly sweeter than regular table sugar (sucrose). This natural sweetness makes Licorice a valuable ingredient in the food industry and herbal preparations.

Health Benefits of Licorice

Licorice offers a spectrum of potential health benefits. Some of its well-documented effects encompass:

  • Digestive Wellness: Licorice has been employed to ease digestive discomfort, including heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers. It works by forming a protective coating on the stomach lining, reducing irritation.
  • Respiratory Support: Known for its potential to soothe respiratory issues such as coughs and sore throats, Licorice may help thin mucus, making it easier to expel.
  • Balancing Hormones: Licorice may assist in supporting hormonal equilibrium and may be beneficial for individuals navigating menopausal symptoms.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Licorice contains compounds with anti-inflammatory attributes, which are valuable for conditions associated with inflammation.
  • Antioxidant Action: The flavonoids present in Licorice act as antioxidants, shielding cells from oxidative stress.

Spiritual and Ceremonial Significance

Licorice, beyond its evident health benefits, carries a deep spiritual and ceremonial significance in various cultures. It’s not merely a medicinal herb; it also plays a unique role in rituals and traditions worldwide.

The Kuzu Kiri Ceremony: Japanese Tradition

In Japan, Licorice takes center stage in the “Kuzu Kiri” ceremony. This ceremonial practice marks the transition of seasons, symbolizing the delicate dance between humans and the natural world. Participants gather to celebrate the changing of seasons, embracing the wisdom that life is in a constant state of flux. The presence of Licorice in this ritual emphasizes the herb’s role as a symbol of adaptability and harmony with nature.

Licorice in Ayurveda: Balancing Energies

In Ayurvedic traditions, Licorice holds a unique position for its capacity to balance the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine in India, emphasizes the significance of harmony between the mind, body, and spirit. Licorice is often employed to restore this equilibrium, ensuring that energies flow harmoniously. It’s an herb that helps individuals embrace their unique constitution, aligning themselves with the rhythm of life.

Native American Rituals: Cleansing and Purification

In Native American cultures, Licorice is utilized in purification rituals. Its smoke is believed to have cleansing properties, which help eliminate negative energy and harmonize individuals with the natural world. The act of burning Licorice root is seen as a bridge between the earthly realm and the spiritual realm, fostering a profound connection.

Licorice and Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Licorice is not only treasured for its medicinal properties but also for its ability to harmonize the various components of a herbal formula. It is often included in TCM formulations to reduce the harshness of other herbs and create a balanced, synergistic effect.

Connecting with the Elemental Forces

Licorice’s association with the Earth element in various herbal and spiritual traditions is notable. It’s often perceived as a grounding herb, helping individuals remain connected to the elemental forces and find stability amidst the chaos of life.

A Reminder of the Ever-Changing Landscape

Licorice’s presence in ceremonies and traditions is a stark reminder of the ever-changing landscape of existence. It encourages us to embrace the cyclical nature of life, where transitions and adaptations are constants. Just as Licorice’s deep roots ensure its survival, it teaches us to anchor ourselves in the present moment, finding strength in adaptability.

licorice benefits

Licorice Medicinal Benefits

Licorice, with its rich cultural history and profound spiritual significance, has a vast array of potential medicinal benefits. Let’s explore the many ways in which Licorice can support health and well-being.

Digestive Health:

Licorice has long been recognized for its ability to soothe and support the digestive system. It can provide relief from various gastrointestinal issues, such as heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers. The glycyrrhizin in Licorice helps by forming a protective coating on the stomach lining, reducing irritation and promoting healing.

Respiratory Support:

Licorice’s soothing properties extend to respiratory health. It is often used to ease coughs and sore throats. The herb’s mucolytic properties help in breaking down and thinning mucus, making it easier to expel. This can be particularly helpful during colds and respiratory infections.

Hormonal Balance:

Licorice may also play a role in supporting hormonal balance, making it valuable for individuals experiencing menopausal symptoms. It contains compounds that can have a regulatory effect on hormones, helping to alleviate hot flashes and mood swings.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects:

The compounds found in Licorice have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a potential option for individuals dealing with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or joint pain. It can help reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.

Antioxidant Action:

Licorice contains flavonoids that act as antioxidants. These compounds help protect cells from oxidative stress, which can be beneficial for overall health and may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases.

Immune Support:

Licorice is believed to have immune-boosting properties. It can help strengthen the body’s natural defense mechanisms, making it a valuable herb during cold and flu season.

Skin Health:

Topical applications of Licorice have been used to alleviate skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Its anti-inflammatory and soothing effects can help reduce skin irritation and promote healing.

Stress Reduction:

Licorice is classified as an adaptogen, which means it may help the body adapt to stress and restore balance. It can assist in reducing the effects of stress on the body, supporting overall well-being.

Weight Management:

Some studies suggest that Licorice may aid in weight management by reducing body fat mass. It can help regulate blood sugar levels and curb sugar cravings, making it a potential support in weight loss efforts.

Heart Health:

Licorice has been associated with potential benefits for heart health. It may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure, supporting cardiovascular well-being.

While Licorice offers a wide range of potential benefits, it’s important to use it mindfully. Excessive consumption or prolonged use can lead to side effects, especially if you have underlying health conditions. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist before incorporating Licorice into your health regimen.

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Herbs That Work Well with Licorice

Licorice can further enhance its potential when combined with other herbs. Let’s find out what other herbs synergize effectively with Licorice, creating powerful combinations for various health purposes.

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.):

When Licorice and Echinacea join forces, they form a dynamic duo for immune support. Echinacea is well-known for its ability to boost the immune system, while Licorice can provide an added layer of support and enhance the overall efficacy of the combination.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale):

Licorice and Ginger make an excellent pair for digestive health. Ginger’s anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties complement Licorice’s soothing effects on the stomach, making them a go-to combination for gastrointestinal comfort.

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita):

The combination of Licorice and Peppermint is often used to alleviate indigestion, bloating, and gas. Peppermint’s soothing qualities and Licorice’s anti-inflammatory effects work harmoniously to support digestive wellness.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):

Licorice and Dandelion can be combined for liver support and detoxification. Dandelion helps stimulate liver function, while Licorice can provide a gentle detoxifying effect and reduce liver inflammation.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus):

Licorice and Astragalus create a powerful combination for immune support and energy enhancement. Astragalus is an adaptogenic herb that complements Licorice’s adaptogenic properties, making it beneficial for reducing the effects of stress.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis):

Combining Licorice with Marshmallow offers soothing relief for respiratory and digestive discomfort. Marshmallow’s mucilaginous properties, when paired with Licorice, create a synergistic effect that can ease coughs, sore throats, and stomach irritations.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa):

Licorice and Turmeric make a potent combination for reducing inflammation and supporting joint health. Turmeric’s curcumin compounds, when combined with Licorice’s anti-inflammatory properties, can provide comprehensive relief.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum):

When seeking liver support and detoxification, Licorice can complement the effects of milk thistle. Milk Thistle helps protect and regenerate liver cells, while Licorice reduces inflammation and assists in detoxifying the liver.

Rhodiola Rosea (Rhodiola rosea):

Licorice and Rhodiola Rosea form an adaptogenic combination that supports stress reduction and adrenal health. Rhodiola is known for its adaptogenic properties, and when combined with Licorice, it can enhance the body’s ability to adapt to stressors.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla):

For individuals seeking digestive relief and relaxation, Licorice and chamomile can work wonders. Chamomile‘s calming effects, when paired with Licorice’s digestive support, provide a holistic approach to well-being.

Licorice Side Effects & Precautions

While Licorice offers a myriad of health benefits, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects, precautions, and contraindications.

High Blood Pressure:

Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a compound that can lead to an increase in blood pressure if consumed in excess. Individuals with hypertension or those at risk of high blood pressure should exercise caution and limit their Licorice intake.

Potassium Depletion:

Excessive consumption of Licorice can lead to potassium depletion. This is a particular concern for individuals with pre-existing potassium imbalances or those taking medications that affect potassium levels.

Hormonal Effects:

Licorice contains compounds that can have estrogen-like effects. Women with certain hormonal conditions, such as estrogen-sensitive cancers, should consult with a healthcare provider before using Licorice.


In rare cases, excessive Licorice consumption can lead to hypokalemia, a condition characterized by low potassium levels. This can result in symptoms like muscle weakness and irregular heart rhythms.

Interactions with Medications:

Licorice may interact with certain medications, including but not limited to blood pressure medications, diuretics, corticosteroids, and blood-thinning medications. It’s essential to discuss any potential interactions with your healthcare provider.

Pregnancy and Lactation:

Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals should use Licorice with caution. The estrogen-like compounds in Licorice may not be suitable during pregnancy, and its safety during lactation is not well-established.


While rare, allergic reactions to Licorice can occur. If you experience any allergic symptoms such as itching, hives, or difficulty breathing, discontinue use and seek medical attention.

Gastric Issues:

Excessive Licorice consumption may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, including indigestion, bloating, and diarrhea. Moderation is key when using Licorice for digestive support.

Dosage and Duration:

Using Licorice for extended periods at high dosages is not recommended. It’s advisable to follow recommended dosage guidelines and avoid prolonged use without proper supervision.

Licorice Root vs. DGL:

It’s important to note the difference between Licorice root and deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL). DGL is a form of Licorice that has had the glycyrrhizin compound removed, making it a safer option for individuals concerned about potential side effects. DGL can provide many of the benefits of Licorice without the risk of elevating blood pressure or causing potassium depletion.

Your experience with Licorice may differ based on your unique health circumstances, including pre-existing medical conditions and medication use. To ensure your safety and optimize the benefits of Licorice, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist who can provide personalized guidance.

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Drug Interaction & Contraindications

Licorice, while offering numerous health benefits, can interact with medications and may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions.

Blood Pressure Medications:

Licorice may reduce the effectiveness of antihypertensive medications, potentially leading to an increase in blood pressure. If you are taking blood pressure medications, consult with your healthcare provider before using Licorice to avoid any adverse interactions.


Licorice may enhance the effects of diuretics, leading to an excessive loss of potassium. This can be particularly problematic for individuals taking potassium-depleting diuretics. Close monitoring and potential potassium supplementation may be required.


Licorice can enhance the effects of corticosteroid medications, increasing the risk of potassium depletion and other side effects associated with these drugs. If you are on corticosteroid therapy, consult with your healthcare provider before using Licorice.

Blood-Thinning Medications:

Licorice may interact with blood-thinning medications, potentially increasing the risk of bleeding. Individuals on anticoagulants or antiplatelet drugs should use Licorice cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Hormone Therapies:

Licorice contains compounds with estrogen-like effects. It can interact with hormone replacement therapies and medications for hormone-sensitive conditions. Women undergoing hormone therapy or with estrogen-sensitive conditions should consult their healthcare provider before using Licorice.

Potassium Supplements:

Combining Licorice with potassium supplements can lead to excessive potassium intake, potentially causing hyperkalemia. If you are taking potassium supplements, it’s advisable to discuss Licorice use with your healthcare provider.

Cardiac Medications:

Licorice’s potential to affect blood pressure and potassium levels means it may interact with medications for cardiac conditions. If you have heart-related health issues or are taking cardiac medications, consult with your healthcare provider before using Licorice.


While Licorice can offer a wide range of benefits, certain medical conditions and circumstances may contraindicate its use. These include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium levels)
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy (due to the potential estrogen-like effects)
  • Lactation (due to limited safety data)

Licorice Dosage and Forms

Using Licorice in the right dosage and form is essential for achieving its potential health benefits while minimizing the risk of side effects. 

1. Dosage:

The appropriate dosage of Licorice can vary depending on factors such as the form of Licorice used (e.g., root, extract, DGL), the purpose of use, and individual health considerations. Here are some general guidelines for Licorice use:

  • Licorice Root: If using Licorice root as a tea, a common recommendation is to steep 1 to 2 grams of dried root in hot water for 10-15 minutes, up to three times a day. However, for medicinal purposes, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional or herbalist for personalized dosage recommendations.
  • Licorice Extract: Standardized Licorice root extract is often available in capsule or liquid form. Dosages can vary, but a common range is 200-600 milligrams, one to three times a day. Follow the product label and consult with a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.
  • Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL): DGL is a safer form of Licorice, as it has had the glycyrrhizin compound removed. A typical dosage is 200-400 milligrams, chewed or taken as a lozenge, 20 minutes before meals and at bedtime. DGL is suitable for addressing digestive issues.
  • Powdered Licorice: Licorice root can also be found in powdered form. Dosages typically range from 1 to 5 grams daily. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.
  • Tinctures: Licorice tinctures are available in liquid form. A common dosage is 2-4 milliliters (approximately 40-80 drops) in a glass of water, taken up to three times a day. Always follow the product label and seek professional advice if necessary.

2. Duration of Use:

The duration of Licorice use should be based on the specific health concern and individual circumstances. For short-term use, such as addressing acute respiratory issues or digestive discomfort, Licorice can be used for a few weeks. For long-term use, especially for other health goals, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider or herbalist for guidance.

3. Available Forms:

Licorice is available in various forms, each suited to different preferences and health goals. Common forms include:

  • Tea: Licorice root can be used to prepare Licorice tea, which is an excellent option for those who prefer a warm, soothing drink. Ensure you use quality, organic Licorice root for tea preparations.
  • Capsules or Tablets: Licorice is available in encapsulated and tablet forms, providing a convenient way to incorporate it into your daily routine.
  • Liquid Extracts: Licorice can be found in liquid extract form, which allows for easy and precise dosing. It can be mixed with water or other beverages.
  • DGL Lozenges: DGL (deglycyrrhizinated Licorice) is often available in lozenge form, which is particularly useful for addressing digestive discomfort.
  • Powder: Licorice root powder can be added to smoothies, yogurt, or other foods for those who prefer this method of consumption.

Cautions and Considerations:

Given the potential for side effects and interactions, it’s essential to use Licorice in consultation with a healthcare professional or herbalist, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. Individual responses to Licorice can vary, so personalized guidance is invaluable.

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Final words

From soothing digestive discomfort to potentially bolstering respiratory health and more, Licorice offers a range of applications that continue to captivate the curious and health-conscious alike.

As you consider incorporating Licorice into your health regimen, here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:

  1. Ancient Roots, Modern Relevance: Licorice’s use dates back thousands of years, and its continued relevance in contemporary health and wellness is a testament to its effectiveness.
  2. Balancing Act: Licorice’s adaptogenic properties can help support the body in times of stress, aiding in hormone regulation and promoting overall well-being.
  3. Respiratory Relief: Licorice’s soothing effects on the respiratory system make it a valuable ally during coughs, colds, and other respiratory discomforts.
  4. Digestive Harmony: Licorice can help alleviate digestive issues, such as indigestion and acid reflux when used appropriately and in suitable forms like DGL.
  5. Interactions and Contradictions: Due to its potential to interact with medications and certain medical conditions, it’s crucial to seek professional guidance when considering Licorice.
  6. Mindful Dosage: Use Licorice in appropriate dosages and forms, keeping in mind your specific health goals and individual response.
  7. Diverse Forms: Licorice is available in various forms, from teas and capsules to liquid extracts and DGL lozenges. Choose the form that best aligns with your preferences and needs.
  8. Personalized Approach: Your journey with Licorice should be tailored to your unique health circumstances. Consult with a healthcare provider or herbalist to receive personalized guidance.
  9. Duration of Use: The duration of Licorice use should be based on your specific health goals and the advice of your healthcare provider. Short-term and long-term use can both be appropriate, depending on the situation.

As we conclude our exploration of Licorice, it’s our hope that you have gained valuable insights into this medicinal herb and its potential role in enhancing your well-being. Remember that Licorice, like any herbal remedy, is most effective when used mindfully and as part of a holistic approach to health and wellness.

Common Questions

Demystifying Licorice: Your Comprehensive Guide to 50 Common Questions

Article Sources

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