Licorice root contains beneficial compounds like glycyrrhizin, which has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It may have some health benefits, such as reducing acid reflux.

Licorice root comes from the root of the licorice plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra, which grows in Asia, Southern Europe, and the Middle East.

Medicinal use of licorice dates back to ancient Egypt, where the root was made into a sweet drink for pharaohs. Now, it’s used to help treat various ailments and flavor candies, drinks, and medicines.

Licorice root contains nearly 300 compounds, but its primary active compound is glycyrrhizin. This is responsible for the root’s sweet taste, as well as its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

That said, glycyrrhizin is also linked to some adverse effects. As a result, some products use deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), which has had the glycyrrhizin removed.

Keep reading to learn more about the potential benefits, side effects, and recommended dosage of licorice root.

Current research shows promise for several of licorice root’s medicinal uses, but it’s important to note that more research is needed to fully support these potential benefits.

May aid skin conditions

Research suggests licorice root extract may help treat a variety of skin conditions, such as acne and eczema.

What’s more, a 2019 study found that a cream containing licorice root, gentian root, and willow bark extract was as effective as a 1% hydrocortisone cream in treating eczema symptoms.

May reduce acid reflux and indigestion

Licorice root extract may be used to help relieve symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), such as acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion.

A 2017 study in 58 adults with GERD found that taking licorice root daily was more effective at reducing symptoms over a 2-year period than commonly used antacids.

Learn more about herbs and supplements for GERD and acid reflux.

May help treat peptic ulcers

Licorice root extract and its glycyrrhizin may help treat peptic ulcers. These painful sores develop in your stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine as a result of H. pyloribacteria.

A 2023 animal study found that licorice flavonoid could help relieve peptic ulcers by increasing mucus production, reducing inflammation, and improving gut microbiome.

A 2016 study in 120 adults found that consuming licorice extract in addition to a standard treatment significantly reduced the presence of H. pylori after 2 weeks.

May have anticancer properties

Licorice root extract is being studied for its protective effects against certain types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Animal studies have found that licorice root helped slow or prevent cell growth in skin, colorectal, and breast cancer.

As research is limited to test tubes and animals, its effects on human cancers are unknown.

However, research suggests that licorice root extract may be as effective as the standard treatment for oral mucositis, a side effect of chemotherapy.

May ease upper respiratory conditions

A 2019 review found that glycyrrhizin extract from licorice root may help relieve asthma due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The authors also suggest it may be the asthma treatment with the fewest potential side effects.

Another 2019 study found licorice root tea and extract may protect against strep throat.

However, further research is needed.

May protect against cavities

Research suggests that licorice root may help protect against cavities and treat the following oral health conditions:

However, more research is needed on the optimal dose and form of licorice root for oral health.

Other potential benefits

Licorice root extract is tied to several other potential benefits, such as:

However, more research is needed to fully support these benefits.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed licorice root generally safe for use in foods.

However, the FDA does not monitor supplements for purity, effectiveness, or accuracy of ingredient labeling.

As such, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking licorice root to help treat health conditions.

Licorice root overdose

Both chronic use and large doses of licorice root products may lead to glycyrrhizin accumulation in your body. Research suggests that in rare cases, this may cause:

Who should not use licorice root?

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Care (NCCIC) notes that chronic use of licorice root may pose a risk for people with hypertension, heart disease, or kidney disease, as well as people who are pregnant or nursing.

Drug interactions

Licorice root has been shown to interact with several medications, including:

If you’re taking any of these medications, it’s best to avoid licorice root products unless a doctor tells you otherwise.

Licorice root can be purchased fresh or dried. As a supplement, licorice root extract comes in several forms, including:

How much licorice root is safe per day?

There’s currently no standard dosage recommendation.

A 2021 review suggests doses vary depending on the form of licorice root and the health condition being treated. For example, two 380-milligram (mg) DGL tablets before eating are recommended for GERD.

For asthma, there are three options:

  • 1–5 grams of dried licorice root powder, three times daily
  • 2–5 milliliters of licorice tincture, three times daily
  • 250–300 mg of licorice extract, three times daily

That said, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Scientific Committee of Food (SCF) both recommend limiting glycyrrhizin intake to no more than 100 mg per day.

Another option is to look for DGL powders or capsules, as these are free of glycyrrhizin, the compound responsible for most of licorice’s side effects. However, it’s unclear whether DGL products have the same health effects.

It’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before trying any licorice products.

Does licorice root heal the gut?

Some research suggests that licorice root may have benefits for the gut microbiome in mice. However, more research in humans is needed.

Can I drink licorice root tea every day?

One cup of licorice tea is unlikely to cause side effects. However, in rare cases, drinking high amounts of licorice root tea every day could cause hypertension and low potassium levels, which may require hospitalization.

Licorice root has been used for thousands of years to help treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory conditions and digestive distress.

Its plant compounds demonstrate potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects.

Though it may relieve acid reflux, eczema, peptic ulcers, and other health issues, more comprehensive human studies are needed.