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Disclaimer: The information on is intended to improve your knowledge about herbs and their benefits. Articles on this website are not intended to replace medical treatment from your doctor. Always consult your doctor before starting a new treatment regimen.

Page Update 04/19/2020

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra)
By Dr. Ashraf Girgis ND

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Licorice, or Glycyrrhiza glabra, belongs to the leguminosae family. There are approximately thirty species of licorice. The plant originated in ancient greater Iran and the Mediterranean region. It’s been referenced in ancient Assyrian tablets and in ancient Egyptian artifacts. In Chinese medicine, the recorded use goes back to 2100 BC. Chinese traditional prescriptions used it to nourish qi, alleviate pain in addition to notifying spleen and stomach, and relieve coughing (1). Licorice is currently Used in Europe and around the world.

Other names:

There are two different types of Glycyrrhiza glabra among the thirty various species of licorice: one from Iran, and one found in Russia and Europe (specifically, Spain and Italy). Though found in different places, these species belong to the same family. Sometimes this is not pointed out in studies. 

Licorice is also referred to as liquiriti radix, sweet root, gan cao, kanzohy, alcacuz, and glycyrrhizae. In Iran, it is called Shrine Bayan (meaning “sweet words” or “sweet sounds”), referring to its use to heal voice loss from singing or speeches. There is also a variety of Chinese licorice.




More than twenty triterpenoids and nearly 300 flavonoids have been found in licorice thus far. All compounds in licorice have medicinal effects. The most studied constituents are glycyrrhizin (GL) and glycyrrhizic acid (GA) – both of these have been shown to have anti-viral and anti-microbial properties – as well as liquiritigenin (LTG), glabridin (GLD) licochalcone A (LCA), and licochalcone E (LCE) (4).

Licorice also contains several triterpenoid saponins, as well as other triterpenes including lioquiritic acid, glycrrretol, and glabrolide (Hosseinzade at al 2008). Additionally, licorice contains antioxidant constituents.


Medicinal Benefits:

Many of the constituents in licorice possess anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects (1). Among the various constituents in licorice only two triterpenes, GL and GA, have been scientifically proven to have antiviral effects (2).

Licorice has been shown to repair ulcers, promoting mucosal repair therefore reducing the symptoms from active ulcers (Lakworthy & Holgate 1975).

 Beta–glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) is a major metabolite of licorice which contributes to its anti-inflammatory effects, caused by the inhibition of cortisol breakdown in the body.

 In addition to anti-viral activities, licorice also has demonstrated anti-tumor activities (3). In one study, scientists used licorice root (GA) to treat mice infected with lethal doses of the influenza virus A2 (H2N2). All of the mice receiving licorice root survived through the 21 days of the study. The mice which did not receive licorice root survived for ten or five days; none survived the entire study (8).

Glycyrrhizin (GL) has been used in Japan to treat patients with chronic viral hepatitis, in addition to being used as an anti-inflammatory drug (5). In another study on mice performed in Japan, researchers found licorice (GR) to be effective in helping mice overcome and survive influenzas (6).


  In another study by scientists from the Medical University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, two different preparations of licorice (Radix Glycyrrhizae and Radix Glycyrrhizae Preparata) were used in patients with human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). The researchers concluded that “Both Radix Glycyrrhizae and Radix Glycyrrhizae Preparata are effective against HRSV infection on airway epithelial cells. Radix Glycyrrhizae inhibited HRSV mainly by preventing viral attachment, internalization, and by stimulating IFN secretion. 18β-GA may be one of its active constituents” (9).

Other viral diseases such as herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), varicella-zoster virus (the cause of shingles), hepatitis B, acute repertory distress syndrome (ARDS), Epstein-Bar Syndrome, coronavirus, influenza virus 9, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) responded to treatment with licorice (5).

Licorice has many other benefits. It is an antitussive (fights cough) due to its effects on tracheal mucus secretions (Bradley 1992, Liu et al. 2008). It has lipid-lowering effects, along with being anti-cancer, hepatoprotective, anti-depressive, and anti-platelet. It can have tonic effects on adrenal glands, improving chronic stress.

Golden Seal


Each type of licorice is used for a different types of illness. For example, the standard licorice “de-glycyrrhizinated”(DGL) is used in respiratory infections. DGL is prepared without glycyrrhizin for use with various conditions, especially ulcers. Dosage for DGL is one 200-300 mg capsule daily three times a day before meal (The Natural Pharmacy p.704).

According to, licorice root in dosages of 760 mg to 15 g can be used for ulcers and gastritis. While the suggested daily dose of glycyrrhizin is 0.2 mg/kg/day (10), licorice root in capsule form (5-6 g/day) can be used for a few days in some conditions.  

To make a tea with licorice, pour a cup of boiling water over 2-4 grams of licorice root and let it simmer for 5-15 minutes. Use a tea strainer and drink it. For other types of licorice, such as extracts or other forms, please follow the instructions on the label. Keep in mind that one tablespoon is about 13 grams (12.7817 grams, to be exact).

Gymnema Sylvester

Side Effects:

Most side effects and adverse effects of licorice are attributed to doses of GA above 100-400 milligrams per day. However, de-glycyrrhizinated licorice extracts do NOT cause many of the side effects (The Natural Pharmacy P.704).

Licorice lowers the effect of potassium. In one case, it was shown to lower potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia), even when users also took a potassium supplement (Kageyama et al. 1997). Licorice in high doses can increase blood pressure and fluid retention. Use of diuretics and licorice simultaneously is not recommended, due to licorice’s potassium lowering effects. Licorice may decrease testosterone level (Armanini et al .1999), so observation of the testosterone level during the time a patient is on licorice Is recommended: consumption of 7 grams of licorice containing 500 milligrams of glycyrrhizin per day for more than seven days has been shown to reduce serum testosterone level (The Natural Pharmacy P.704).


Use of licorice for longer than two weeks must be monitored to avoid increase in blood pressure and severe kidney insufficiency. This is particularly important for patients with liver diseases (Blumenthal  et al 2000). German Commission E prohibits the use of licorice for pregnant women, those with kidney diseases, and those with liver diseases.

 Thanks for visiting



Ashraf Girgis,ND


Gogi Berries


1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC4629407/# s0045title
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213986/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pubmed/27815461
4. https://www. licorice-root-antiviral- antimicrobial-antifungal/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC3715454/
6:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC163749/
7. pubmed/9034789
8. 41/3/551.short
9. science/article/pii/ S037887411300305X
10. licorice.html

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