Supplement of the Month: Licorice

What is licorice and where is it found?

Licorice is a plant primarily grown in Greece, Turkey and Asia. It is mostly used as a flavoring agent in foods and tobacco and foods, especially as a candy. The licorice root is used to make medicine. It contains compound called glycyrrhizin, which has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and soothing properties.

What are the benefits of licorice?

Licorice is used orally to treat digestive issues such as dyspepsia (heartburn), peptic ulcers, and gastritis. It is also used to treat sore throats, colds, and coughs. Others use licorice to treat osteoarthritis, lupus and liver disorders. Some research shows licorice reduces body fat and decreases weight. Topically, licorice can be used in shampoos to decrease oiliness.

Are there interactions between licorice and food or medications?

Licorice should not be taken with grapefruit juice or salt since licorice can cause potassium depletion and increase sodium and water retention Licorice should not be taken with Coumadin and care should be taken with estrogens, digoxin, diuretics, corticosteroids, and medications changed by the liver.

 Are there side effects from taking licorice?

Licorice may cause fluid retention and low potassium levels, which may lead to high blood pressure, headaches, lethargy, acute renal failure, edema, arrhythmias, and muscle weakness. High levels of licorice may also affect cortisol levels in the body.

 

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