Licorice root is one of the most-used herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is frequently used in small amounts in formulas and is considered to be a synergist or peacemaker in that it helps herbs work together more effectively.
This post will look at licorice root benefits when used as licorice tea or as a licorice extract. It will also look at the licorice side effects in addition to potential problems with licorice and high blood pressure.
Licorice root has a strong sweet taste (50 times sweeter than sugar) and shines as a demulcent herb, but the benefits of licorice root have numerous powerful uses that go beyond being a simple demulcent.
Chinese Licorice, Gan Cao, Kan-ts’ao, Kuo-lao, Licorice, Licorice Root, Ling-t’ung, Liquorice, Mei-ts’ao, Mi-kan, Mi-ts’ao, Sweet Licorice, Sweet Wood, Yasti Madhu
Anti-allergic, anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, emollient, estrogenic (mild), expectorant, laxative, pectoral (moderate), soothing
Addison’s disease, allergic rhinitis, arthritis, athlete’s foot, baldness, bronchitis, bursitis, canker sores, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract, chronic fatigue, colds, colitis and intestinal infections, conjunctivitis, constipation, coughs, dandruff, depression, duodenal-ulcers, emphysema, exhaustion, fibromyalgia, flu, fungal infections, gastritis, gingivitis and tooth decay, gout, hayfever, heartburn, hepatitis, inflamed gallbladder, liver disease, Lyme disease, menopause, prostate enlargement, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, spleen disorders, tendinitis, throat problems, tuberculosis, ulcers, viral infections, yeast infections. Reducing stomach acid and relieving heartburn and indigestion. Increasing bile flow and lowering cholesterol. Improving resistance to physical and emotional stress.
Licorice root, especially when taken in large amounts for long periods of time, can increase blood pressure and cause water retention. Some people seem to be more susceptible to this than others.
To avoid this, here are some suggestions:
Take licorice root in smaller dosages and as part of a larger herbal formula.
Avoid taking more than 10 grams of licorice root per day for an extended period of time.
If you decide to take larger dosages of licorice, have your blood pressure checked regularly and discontinue use if you notice any unusual water retention in your body.
Avoid use of licorice root if you currently have high blood pressure and/or edema.
Licorice root may also interact with corticosteroid medications by increasing their effect. If you are on corticosteroid medication then it would be best to work with someone experienced in using these two substances together.
Interestingly, many of the case studies involving unwanted side effects of licorice happened in people consuming large amounts of licorice candy.