A member of the pea family, licorice root has been used since ancient times both as food and as medicine. In Chinese herbology, licorice is an ingredient in nearly all herbal formulas for the traditional purpose of "harmonizing" the separate herbs involved.
What Is Licorice Used for Today?
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.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Licorice?
Furthermore, if it does work, DGL would have to be taken continuously to avoid ulcer recurrence. In some cases, drug treatment can prevent the recurrence of ulcers permanently by eradicating the bacteria Helicobacter pylori . There is no evidence as yet that DGL can do the same.
For supportive treatment of ulcer pain along with conventional medical care, the standard dose is two to four 380-mg tablets of DGL taken before meals and at bedtime. The same tablets can be allowed to slowly dissolve in the mouth for possible relief of mouth sore pain.
A typical dose of whole licorice is 5 to 15 g daily. However, we do not recommend the use of doses this high for more than a few weeks. For long-term consumption, about 0.3 g of licorice root daily should be safe for most adults. (See Safety Issues.) Individuals who wish to take a higher dose should do so only under the supervision of a physician.
For the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, or herpes, 2% licorice gel or cream is applied twice daily to the affected area.
Maximum safe doses for young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.
It is believed, but not proven, that most or all of the major side effects of licorice are due to glycyrrhizin. For this reason, DGL has been described as entirely safe. However, comprehensive safety studies on DGL have not been reported.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Digoxin : Long-term use of licorice can be dangerous.
- Thiazide or loop diuretics : Use of licorice might lead to excessive potassium loss. 18
- Corticosteroid treatment : Licorice could increase both its negative and positive effects. Do not take licorice internally if using corticosteroids.
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs : Regular use of DGL might help lower the risk of ulcers.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -