Image for Licorice (L.) and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 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.
  • 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.

Background

  • The part of licorice used for medicine is the root and dried rhizome of the low-growing shrub Glycyrrhiza glabra. Currently, most licorice is produced in Greece, Turkey, and Asia.
  • Licorice has been used in ancient Greece, China, and Egypt, primarily for gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) 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).
  • Licorice has a long history of medicinal use in Europe and Asia. At high doses, there are potentially severe side effects, including high blood pressure, low blood potassium levels, and fluid retention. Most adverse effects have been attributed to the chemical component glycyrrhiza (or glycyrrhizic acid). Licorice can be processed to remove the glycyrrhiza, resulting in DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), which does not appear to share the metabolic disadvantages of licorice.

Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. 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. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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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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Author Information

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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.