Generic name: licorice [ LIH-koe-rish ]
Drug class: Herbal products
What is licorice?
Licorice is a plant also known as Acide Glycyrrhizique, Alcacuz, Bois Doux, Bois Sucré, Gan Zao, Glabra, Glycyrrhiza, Glycyrrhizic Acid, Isoflavone, Jethi-Madh, Kanzo, Lakritze, Liquiritiae Radix, Liquirizia, Mulathi, Orozuz, Phytoestrogen, Racine de Réglisse, Régalissse, Regaliz, Regliz, Subholz, Sussholz, Sweet Root, Yashtimadhu, Yashti-Madhu, Yashti-Madhuka, Zhi Gan Cao, and many other names.
Licorice is a common flavoring agent and food product. When used as a food product, licorice is not likely to produce health benefits or side effects. When used as a medicinal product, licorice may produce both desired and unwanted effects on the body.
Licorice has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in treating heartburn when combined with other plants or extracts in a specific preparation. Licorice may also be possibly effective in treating symptoms of eczema (itching, swelling, redness) when applied to the skin.
Other uses not proven with research have included treating psoriasis, canker sores, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, muscle cramps, cancer pain, arthritis, bleeding, stomach ulcers, and many other conditions.
It is not certain whether licorice is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Licorice should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.
Licorice is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.
Licorice may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.
Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use this product if you are allergic to licorice, or if you have:
low levels of potassium in your blood (hypokalemia);
past or present cancer of the breast, ovary, or uterus; or
a history of endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have:
a nerve-muscle disorder;
if you eat a lot of salty foods.
The use of licorice as a flavoring agent or food product is likely to be safe during pregnancy. However, taking large amounts of licorice during pregnancy may increase your risk of miscarriage or premature labor. Do not use this product if you are pregnant.
It is not known whether licorice passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.
How should I take licorice?
When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.
If you choose to use licorice, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.
Do not use different forms (powder, root, extract, liquid, teas, etc) of licorice at the same time without medical advice. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.
Do not take topical (for the skin) licorice by mouth. Topical forms of this product are for use only on the skin.
If you need surgery, stop taking licorice at least 2 weeks ahead of time.
Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with licorice does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra licorice to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking licorice?
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with licorice and lead to unwanted side effects. Discuss the use of grapefruit products with your doctor.
Avoid using chewing tobacco that is flavored with licorice. This product could raise your blood pressure or cause serious side effects.
Avoid taking licorice with other herbal/health supplements that can affect your heart. This includes digitalis, lily-of-the-valley, pheasant's eye, and squill.
Also avoid taking licorice with herbal/health supplements that can have laxative effects. This includes aloe vera (taken by mouth), buckthorn, cascara sagrada, castor oil, rhubarb, and senna.
Licorice side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Although not all side effects are known, licorice is thought to be possibly safe when taken for a short period of time (no longer than 4 weeks).
Long-term use of licorice may cause serious side effects. Stop using this product and call your healthcare provider at once if you have:
weakness, loss of movement in any part of the body;
high blood pressure--severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, nosebleed, anxiety, shortness of breath;
low potassium--confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling; or
signs of a brain disorder--confusion, memory problems, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, decreased alertness, or loss of consciousness.
Common side effects may include:
headache, tired feeling;
missed menstrual periods;
fluid retention (swelling, rapid weight gain); or
sexual problems in men (loss of interest, impotence, trouble having an orgasm).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect licorice?
Do not take licorice without medical advice if you are using a medication to treat any of the following conditions:
any type of infection (including HIV, malaria, or tuberculosis);
anxiety or depression;
arthritis pain, occasional pain, or tension headaches;
asthma or allergies;
birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD);
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a heart condition;
psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders;
a psychiatric disorder; or
Do not take licorice without medical advice if you are using any of the following medications:
dexamethasone, prednisone, or other steroid medicine;
a diuretic or "water pill";
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with licorice, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.
More about licorice
Related treatment guides
- Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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