Image for Licorice () and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 1-methoxyphaseollin, 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, 18(beta)-glycyrrhetinic acid, 22β-acetoxylglycyrrhizic acid, Alcacuz (Portuguese, Spanish), alcazuz, asam boi, biogastrone, bois doux (French), CankerMelts GX, carbenoxolone, carbenoxolone sodium, chalcones, Chinese licorice, deglycyrrhizinised liquorice, deglycyrrhizinized succus Liquiritiae, DGL, duogastrone, Fabaceae (family), flavonoid, flavonoid glycosides, gan cao, gan zao, glabrene, glabridin, glabrol, Glavonoid™, glucoliquiritin apioside, glycyrrhetenic acid, glycyrrhetic acid, glycyrrhiza, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza glabra glandulifera, Glycyrrhiza glabra Linne, Glycyrrhiza glabra typica, Glycyrrhiza glabra violacea, Glycyrrhiza palidiflora, glycyrrhiza root, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, glycyrrhizic acid, glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhizinic acid, glycyrrhizol-A, hochu-ekki-to, isoflavone, isoflavonoids, isoliquiritigenin, isoliquiritin, kanzo (Japanese), lakrids (Danish), lakritze, Lakritzenwurzel (German), Leguminoseae (family), licochalcone A, licorice root, licorice saponins A3 and G2, licoricidin, licorisoflavan A, licuraside, Liquiritiae radix, Liquiritia officinalis, liquiritigenin, liquiritigenin-7,4'-diglucoside, liquiritin, liquiritin apioside, liquirizia (Italian), liquorice, ononin, orozuz, Persian licorice, phytoestrogen, Pontefract cakes, powdered succus liquiritiae, prenyllicoflavone A, Radix glycyrrhizae (Latin), regaliz, réglisse (French), regliz, Russian licorice, salicylic acid, shinflavone, shinpterocarpin, Spanish licorice, Stronger Neo Minophagen-C™ (SNMC), STW 5, subholz, Suβholzwurzel, sweet root, sweet wood, triterpene saponins, yashti-madhu (Sanskrit), YHK, Yo Jyo Hen Shi Ko (Chinese), Yokukansan, yunganoside E2, Zhi Gan Cao Tang.
  • Select combination products: Ankaferd Blood Stopper (combination: Glycyrrhiza glabra, Thymus vulgaris, Vitis vinifera, Alpinia officinarum, and Urtica dioica); Bushen Houxue (BSHX) (combination: dodder seed, mulberry mistletoe, red sage root, epimedium, honeylocust thorn, rehmannia root, psoralea fruit, solomonseal rhizome, peach kernel, pleione bulbocodioides, and licorice root); Dannang recipe No. 2 (DNR2) (combination: red sage root, honeysuckle, red peony root, aucklandia root, giant knotweed rhizome, scutellaria root, forsythia fruit, immature bitter orange, magnolia bark, peach kernel, rhubarb, and licorice root); ImmunoGuard™ (a standardized fixed combination of Andrographis paniculata Nees., Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim., Schizandra chinensis Bail., and Glycyrrhiza glabra L.); Kangqian Decoction (combination: thorowax root, divaricate saposhnikovia root, licorice root, moutan bark, red sage root, milkvetch root, and schisandra fruit), Maoto (combination: apricot kernel, cinnamon bark, ephedra herb, and glycyrrhiza root); Shufeng liangxue decoction (combination: imperata rhizome, rehmannia root, moutain bark, schizonepeta spike, divaricate saposhnikovia root, scutellaria root, forsythia fruit, cape-jasmine fruit, red peony root, white-stiff silkworm, broom cypress fruit, Indian bread, and licorice root); STW 5 (Iberogast® containing Iberis amara, peppermint, chamomile, and licorice); STW 5-II (combination: bitter candy tuft, caraway, lemon balm, licorice root, matricaria flower, and peppermint leaves); TJ-109 (Sho-saiko-to-ka-kikyo-sekko) (combination: Bupleurum root, ginger rhizome, ginseng root, Glycyrrhiza root, gypsum, jujube fruit, Pinellia tuber, Platycodon root, and Scutellaria root); Tsumura TJ-68 (Shakuyakukanzoto; shakuyaku-kanzo-to; shao-yao-gan-cao-tang); Yo Jyo Hen Shi Ko; Zemaphyte.
  • Note: Not included in this monograph: Caved S (a combination of DGL, alkalizing substances, and vagolytic drugs) and carbenoxolone (Biogastrone; a synthetic substance based on glycyrrhizinic acid). In Chinese medicine, licorice root is generally derived from a different plant species, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, with similar properties.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Licorice has a long history of medicinal use in Europe and Asia. At high doses, there are potentially severe side effects, including hypertension, hypokalemia, fluid retention, and metabolic abnormalities. Most adverse effects have been attributed to the chemical component glycyrrhizin, which is also known as glycyrrhizic acid or glycyrrhizinic acid. Licorice may be processed to remove the glycyrrhizic acid, resulting in DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), which apparently lacked the same metabolic disadvantages of licorice.
  • The medicinally used part of licorice is the root and dried rhizome of the low-growing shrub Glycyrrhiza glabra. Most licorice is produced in Greece, Turkey, and Asia.
  • Licorice has been used in ancient Greece, China, and Egypt, primarily for gastritis and ailments of the upper respiratory tract. Ancient Egyptians prepared a licorice drink for ritual use to honor spirits of the pharaohs. Its use became widespread in Europe and Asia for numerous indications.
  • In addition to its medicinal uses, licorice has been used as a flavoring agent, valued for sweetness (glycyrrhizin, a component of licorice, is 50 times sweeter than table sugar). The generic name "glycyrrhiza" stems from ancient Greek, meaning "sweet root." It was originally used as flavoring for licorice candies, although most licorice candy is now flavored with anise oil. Licorice is still used in sub-therapeutic doses as a sweetening agent in herbal medicines, lozenges, and tobacco products (doses low enough that significant adverse effects are unlikely).
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.