Description Cultivated in Turkey and Greece, the liquorice plant is a member of the pea family. Its root contains glycyrrhizin, which is the main active ingredient and is also responsible for its sweet taste. There is another form of liquorice called DGL (deglycyrrhizinated liquorice), which has glycyrrhizin removed, and which can be used at higher intakes without raising blood pressure.
Function/ Used for Liquorice containing glycyrrhizin is used to help reduce inflammation and ease coughs, sore throats and other respiratory symptoms. Liquorice can also be used as a cream to help soothe irritated and inflamed skin. Liquorice has anti-ulcer activity and has been used clinically for ulcers, including stomach and mouth ulcers2.

The DGL form of liquorice, which has the active ingredient glycyrrhizzin removed, helps combat indigestion.

Intake N/A
As a supplement Liquorice extract is available in tablets, capsules or liquid extracts, standardised to contain 22% glycyrrhizin.

General dosage recommendation is 200mg, three times a day. Liquid extract: 2-5ml2.

Found in (dietary sources) N/A
Deficiency N/A
Precautions and contraindications Glycyrrhizin found in liquorice raises blood pressure and so should be avoided by people with heart, kidney or liver disease, or high blood pressure. People taking liquorice for more than a month should have their blood pressure monitored. DGL liquorice, however, has glycyrrhizin removed, and so does not cause blood pressure to be raised.
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding Not suitable to be taken if pregnant or breastfeeding1.
Interactions e.g. with other medications Not suitable for people taking anticoagulant, antihypertensive, corticosteroid, digoxin (used to treat heart conditions), diuretic, or potassium medication1.
Adverse effects Oral intake of more than 20g/day of licorice can cause adverse effects, such as headache, lethargy, hypertension (high blood pressure), sodium and water retention, elevated potassium secretion, and sometimes even cardiac arrest.

Symptoms usually manifest within one week if the daily ingestion of liquorice is over 100g. In addition, excessive intake of liquorice may affect the menstrual cycle and cause slightly premature childbirth.

Note: DGL is virtually free of adverse side effects.1,2

References 1.       Braun & Cohen. Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide. Churchill Livingstone, 2005.

2.       Williamson, E. M. Potter’s Herbal Cyclopaedia. C.W. Daniel Co Ltd. 2003


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