Licorice health benefit and side effects, potential for low potassium levels
Pill, tablet, capsule and root extract health benefit
Effect on blood pressure, memory
January 2 2017

Licorice is a plant that grows in southern Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean. The dried roots and underground stems of the plant are used in herbal remedies. Licorice appears to have some use in the treatment of peptic ulcers; however, high doses over a prolonged period can cause a fluid imbalance in the body, involving salt, potassium, and water metabolism.

Licorice Root Extract- Deglycyrrhizinated – 380 mg
Research has shown that deglycyrrhizinated licorice root supports and promotes healthy stomach lining and intestinal flora. Glycyrrhiznic and glycyrrhetinic acids, substances in licorice root associated with high blood pressure, have been removed. Planetary Formulas professional strength DGL lirorice extract reflects dosages and preparations used in clinical studies.

Benefits of licorice root supplements
Licorice has compounds that can enhance the immune system, provide antioxidant support, reduce levels of cholesterol, and thin the blood. Licorice may even enhance brain power (see below).

Licorice caution and side effects, safety, danger, risks, concern with high blood pressure and low potassium levels
Licorice-associated hypertension is thought to be due to increased renal sodium retention. The active compound of licorice, glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), inhibits renal 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11beta-HSD2) and by that mechanism increases access of cortisol to the mineralocorticoid receptor that causes renal sodium retention and potassium loss. Licorice overuse can lead to hypokalemic hypertension. Headache is a common side effect.

Severe hypokalemia, rhabdomyolysis, muscle paralysis, and respiratory impairment in a hypertensive patient taking herbal medicines containing licorice.
Intern Med. 2007. Yasue H, Itoh T, Mizuno Y, Harada E. Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Kumamoto Kinoh Hospital, Kumamoto Aging Research Institute, Kumamoto, Japan.
A 93 year-old hypertensive woman was found to have severe hypokalemia and developed paralysis of the all extremities associated with metabolic alkalosis, hypoxemia, hypercapnea, extremely high levels of creatine phosphokinase, myoglobin and myoglobinuria compatible with rhabdomyolysis. Plasma renin activity and aldosterone levels were below normal. She was found to have been taking licorice-containing herbal medicines for the last 7 years. With the discontinuation of the licorice-containing medicines and administration of spironolactone together with intravenous and oral potassium supplement, her serum potassium level was normalized and her clinical symptoms and hypertension improved within 2 weeks.

Q. I would like to consider taking Source Naturals Hot Flash remedy. Since licorice can elevate blood pressure, I would like to know if the glycyrrhiznic and glycyrrhetinic acids have been removed from this product.
A. Source Naturals would be the ones to contact since they know the details of their licorice extract in the Hot Flash formula.

Q. I have been taking a product that has been very helpful in my diet for the past 18 years. It has .01286 mg per tablet of licorice root in it. I have been taking 3 tablets per day. In the last year my blood pressure has been elevated. Is .01286 mg licorice root a harmful dosage?
A. This amount of licorice root appears to be very small and it is difficult to say whether this small amount influences blood pressure.

Licorice oil safety
Clinical safety of licorice flavonoid oil (LFO) and pharmacokinetics of glabridin in healthy humans.
J Am Coll Nutr. 2007. Aoki F, Nakagawa K, Kitano M, Ikematsu H, Nakamura K, Yokota S, Tominaga Y, Arai N, Mae T. Functional Food Ingredients Division, Kaneka Corporation, Miyamae-machi, Takasago, Hyogo, Japan.
Licorice flavonoid oil: Kaneka Glavonoid Rich Oil is a new dietary ingredient containing licorice flavonoids dissolved in medium-chain triglycerides. Glabridin is one of the bioactive flavonoids included specifically in licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra and is the most abundant flavonoid in licorice flavonoid oil. In this study, we assessed the safety of Licorice flavonoid oil in healthy humans and determined the plasma concentration profile of glabridin as a marker compound. These studies demonstrated that Licorice flavonoid oil is safe when administered once daily up to 1200 mg/day. This is the first report on the safety of licorice flavonoids in an oil preparation and the first report on the pharmacokinetics of glabridin in human subjects.

Licorice supplement health benefit research studies

Effect on memory and cognitive function
A compound derived from licorice root may help slow the effects of aging on the brain and keep mental skills sharp. Researchers found the compound, known as carbenoxolone, appears to inhibit an enzyme in the brain that is involved in making stress-related hormones, which have been associated with age-related mental decline. The study, published in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed daily supplementation with the compound improved verbal fluency in healthy elderly men and improved verbal memory in older adults with diabetes.

Blood thinning potential
Antithrombotic effect of Glycyrrhizin, a plant-derived thrombin inhibitor.
Mendes-Silva W. Centro de Ciencias da Saude, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Thromb Res. 2003.
Glycyrrhizin, an anti-inflammatory compound isolated from licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), has been previously identified as a thrombin inhibitor (Francischetti, Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1997;235:259-63). Here we report the in vivo effects of GL upon two experimental models of induced thrombosis in rats. Intravenous administration of GL caused a dose-dependent reduction in thrombus size on a venous thrombosis model that combines stasis and hypercoagulability. It was observed that GL doses of 180 mg/kg body weight produced 93% decrease on thrombus weight. This effect showed a time-dependent pattern being significantly reduced when the thrombogenic stimulus was applied 60 min after drug administration. GL was also able to prevent thrombosis using an arteriovenous shunt model. GL doses of 180 and 360 mg/kg decreased the thrombus weight by 35 and 90%, respectively. GL doses above 90 mg/kg caused significant hemorrhagic effect. In contrast with heparin, GL did not potentiate the inhibitory activity of antithrombin III or heparin cofactor II towards thrombin. Altogether, data indicate that GL is an effective thrombin inhibitor in vivo, which may account for its other known pharmacological properties.

Q.  Does licorice influence blood clotting or does it have blood thinning properties?
A. It appears that it does thin the blood.

Cancer prevention
Dr. Raymond Harris, Dr. Ming-Zhi Zhang and colleagues at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center say a chemical component of licorice may offer a new way to prevent colorectal cancer without the side effects of other therapies. Inhibiting the enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 — either by treatment with a natural compound found in licorice or by silencing the 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 gene, prevents colorectal cancer progression in mice predisposed to the disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2009.

Effect  on virus
A compound isolated from the root of the licorice plant could be more effective than current treatments for SARS, the virus that has killed 780 people worldwide. Glycyrrhizin, or licorice root, is already given to patients suffering from HIV and hepatitis C. Researchers at Frankfurt University Medical School now believe licorice could help to combat SARS. –The Lancet medical journal.

Effect on blood vessels and lipid levels
Antiatherosclerotic effects of licorice extract supplementation on hypercholesterolemic patients: increased resistance of LDL to atherogenic modifications, reduced plasma lipid levels, and decreased systolic blood pressure.
Nutrition 2002
Fuhrman B. he Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences and Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel
We previously demonstrated the beneficial effects of dietary flavonoids derived from the ethanolic extract of licorice root against atherosclerotic lesion development in association with inhibition of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation in atherosclerotic mice. Administration of licorice extract to normolipidemic subjects also inhibited LDL oxidation. In the present study, we extended our investigation to analyze the antiatherogenic effects of licorice-root extract consumption in moderately hypercholesterolemic patients. Supplementation of licorice root extract (0.1 g/d) to patients for 1 mo was followed by an additional 1 mo of placebo consumption. Licorice consumption 1) reduced patients’ plasma susceptibility to oxidation (by 19%); 2) increased resistance of plasma LDL against three major atherogenic modifications: oxidation (by 55%), aggregation (by 28%), and retention, estimated as chondroitin sulfate binding ability (by 25%); 3) reduced plasma cholesterol levels (by 5%), which was due to a 9% reduction in plasma LDL cholesterol levels; and 4) reduced (by 14%) plasma triacylglycerol levels. After the 1 mo of placebo consumption, these parameters reversed toward baseline levels. Licorice extract supplementation also reduced systolic blood pressure by 10%, which was sustained during the placebo consumption. Dietary consumption of licorice-root extract by hypercholesterolemic patients may act as a moderate hypocholesterolemic nutrient and a potent antioxidant agent and, hence against cardiovascular disease.

Interactions with other herbal remedies
Q. Can
maca extract or tribulus terrestris herb be taken together with licorice extract?
A. As with any combination of herbs, it is best to learn how each one works for you by itself in order to know, if side effects occur with the combination, which one was the cause.
Licorice health benefit research is being published on a regular basis and we will update our site as more information on licorice benefits and side effects become known. In the meantime, do not take a licorice pill daily unless you take a week off each month.

How often to use
Q. How many weeks can i take licorice and how many weeks should i take a break before i can take licorice again?
A. As a general rule, taking licorice 3 days a week is fine, or taking at least a week off each month is a good idea but these are general guidelines and much depends of the amount of licorice that is being consumed.

Q. I purchased Natures Energy and it has licorice extract 12.5mg. I wanted to take this vitamin but I am not sure if this herb will hurt me in anyway?
A. Occasional use of licorice is healthy, daily use may cause problems as discussed above.