Licorice is a leguminous herb native to Central Asia and Southern Europe. The roots of the plant have a sweet flavor and are used for both culinary and therapeutic purposes. Consumed for over thousand years, the licorice root is also known as sweet wood, sweet root, black sugar, liquorice, regliss, mulethi, or simply European licorice. However, when consumed for a very long time, the herb is likely to produce side effects in some people. Hence, though licorice is used for treating various illnesses and diseases, its prolonged usage can adversely affect a person. The effects can be due to various factors such as excess consumption, interaction with other drugs, physical condition of the user, and so on. In the case of licorice, studies state that the presence of glycyrrhizic acid is the main reason behind the side effects of licorice. This is why licorice can, now, be found in two different variants, one with glycyrrhizic acid and one without the compound. Read on to know the adverse effects of licorice.
Adverse Effects Of Licorice Root
- A continuous or overdose of licorice root is likely to reduce the potassium levels in the body, thus causing abnormalities in the functioning of the heart and muscles. Hence, while taking licorice, it is essential to include potassium rich foods in the diet, such as bananas, to regulate the levels.
- Excessive consumption of licorice can also increase blood pressure, thus leading to further complications.
- Intake of licorice root or licorice tea can cause water retention. This in turn, results in lethargy, swollen hands and legs and puffiness on the face. People who are already experiencing these problems should avoid licorice root in any form.
- Licorice contains estrogen stimulating properties that can affect people suffering from related disorders. Furthermore, its consumption can lead to serious problems like fibrocystic breasts, breast cancer or uterine cancer.
- When used by pregnant women, licorice root can pass on the side effects onto the fetus and also lead to premature birth. Licorice should also be avoided by breastfeeding women, since they are likely to transfer the side effects of licorice root onto the new-born.
- People who are on diuretics or are suffering from hypothyroidism should keep away from consuming licorice.
- People should consult a physician or an herbalist before consuming licorice, in case they have problems with their vision or conditions like glaucoma.
- When used for longer durations, licorice can result in abnormal weight gain.
- Excessive use of licorice also leads to weakening of the muscles, chronic fatigue, headaches, swelling, edema, pseudoaldosteronism, shortness of breath, joint stiffness and lower testosterone levels in men.
- Licorice root should be strictly avoided by people with medical conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, estrogen-sensitive disorders, diseases of kidney, heart or liver and menstrual problems.
- People taking medications like ace-inhibitors and diuretics, aspirin, digoxin, corticosteroids, insulin, oral contraceptives and laxatives should also keep away from using licorice.
- People on oral contraceptives should consult their physician, before consuming licorice root to avoid any possible side effects.
- Licorice is also likely to reduce the effects of hormone replacement therapies and testosterone therapy.