Licorice root: medicinal properties and contraindications

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 03.03.2019

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About the healing properties of licorice rhizome is known for more than one thousand years. For example, in ancient China it was used to preserve youth and to promote health in the elderly and children. And in medieval France, licorice root cough was used for bronchitis and pneumonia, or for pain caused by gastritis or colitis. In our country, this herbal remedy was prescribed for a long time along with powerful hormonal preparations: officially, scientists confirmed the anti-inflammatory effect of licorice.

More recently, Japanese researchers have found components in the rhizome that can inhibit human immunodeficiency virus.

However, in this article we consider the most common field of application of the plant - this is the treatment of cough with licorice root, the medicinal properties of which are diverse and do not cause doubts among specialists.

Medicinal properties of licorice root

Licorice root is a multicomponent plant, therefore it has quite a lot of useful properties. The ability to treat a multitude of diseases is primarily due to the presence of such components:

  • Glycyrrhizinic acid - stops the development of the inflammatory process, activates the function of the adrenal glands, prevents allergic reactions. Acid is able to block the biological synthesis of cholesterol, forming an insoluble compound with it (this is due to the anti-sclerotic effect of the agent).
  • Flavonoids - help to reduce the tone of smooth muscles, eliminate spasm, stop the inflammatory response, stabilize the permeability of the vascular walls.
  • Saponins (foaming agents) - improve the secretion of sputum mucus, have astringent properties, facilitate the process of coughing, disinfect, stop the development of inflammation.

In addition to medicine, licorice root is used in cosmetology. For example, the plant is often included in the "anti-aging" creams. Licorice is recommended for those who have problem facial skin, acne, acne, age spots and wrinkles.

Licorice root will also help hair: when thinning, falling out, weak hair, the use of a plant is especially important.

Indications Licorice root

Licorice root is widely used in clinical medicine, due to expectorant, enveloping and softening effect. First of all, the plant is used to treat diseases of the upper respiratory tract, mainly in poorly separated, thick and viscous sputum mucus, or in advanced inflammatory processes (which is typical for elderly patients).

Cough licorice root is not the only use of the remedy. It can be prescribed for the treatment of gastric ulcers, gastritis with high acidity. Together with other medicines, licorice is part of the treatment regimen with insufficient function of the adrenal cortex, with Addison's disease (hypocorticism), with systemic lupus erythematosus, and allergic dermatitis.

Licorice root with a dry cough contributes to the speedy formation of secretions and easier breathing, relief of debilitating cough attacks. The main indications for the use of licorice root in such situations are tracheitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, pharyngitis. The treatment of such a cough should begin as early as possible: preparations based on licorice will relieve mucosal tissue irritation, contribute to effective coughing, and speed recovery.

Licorice root from a wet, wet cough helps speed up the evacuation of sputum: mucus becomes thinner and is discharged faster and easier. Breathing becomes cleaner, wheezing and coughing disappear.

Often drugs licorice used for the treatment of bronchial asthma: the plant is able to eliminate bronchospasm, restore respiratory function, reduce the number of eosinophils in the blood.

There are cases and non-standard use of herbal remedies. For example, some women take licorice root for weight loss. Such an approach can be justified, because licorice is able to stabilize the metabolism, improve metabolism, and normalize the level of cholesterol in the blood. In addition, it has a mild laxative effect. The plant is recommended to use a little, and only in the form of infusions and decoctions: licorice syrup contains a lot of sugar, so it is not suitable for weight loss. It is not recommended to use the drug and 3-4 degrees of obesity.

Separately, you should consider the use of plants for cosmetic purposes. Licorice root from pigment spots on the face, from the first wrinkles, acne, acne rash helps: the action of the rhizome is due to its anti-inflammatory, antiallergic and regenerating properties. Pigment spots that appear on the body during hormonal disorders or during pregnancy can be successfully removed with the help of licorice. This effect is due to the hormone-like (corticosteroid-like) effect of the plant.

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Release form

Licorice root is produced in various forms:

  • syrup, packaged in vials (100 ml, 125 ml);
  • crushed rhizomes in cartons (50 g or 100 g);
  • filter bags for brewing and making an infusion (10 or 20 pieces per pack).

In addition, the licorice cough can be taken in the form of infusions, decoctions, tinctures, cooked at home.

Licorice root in the form of cough syrup is the most common medicinal form based on this plant. Syrup is made from a thick extract of licorice root, as well as sugar. Some manufacturers add to the composition of the alcohol base. The tool has a yellowish-brown color, specific aroma and peculiar sugary taste.

Cough tablets licorice root may contain only in the form of dietary supplements. Drugs with licorice tablets do not exist today. Biologically active additives (BAA) are not drugs, but may be included in the complex treatment of various disease states, at the discretion of the attending doctor.

Tincture of licorice root for cough is also not a pharmaceutical preparation, but it can be easily prepared at home: chopped root is poured with alcohol in the ratio of 1: 5, kept in a dark place for three weeks, filtered. Store in glass bottles. Accepted by a doctor, with a course of treatment of not more than 7-10 days.

Cough syrups with licorice root may also have a combined composition, for example:

  • Arida dry cough syrup (with licorice, althea, ammonium chloride, anise oil);
  • Bronhofloks tea (with licorice, elderberry, mint, plantain, thyme);
  • Bronhofit tincture, collection (with licorice, sage and chamomile, thyme and elderberry, nettle and calendula, linden and mint, amir and altey).

A decoction of licorice root cough is prepared at home from the collected personally, or purchased at the pharmacy raw materials. Crushed licorice root is available in pharmacies in the form of fees (mono or complex mixtures), as well as in filter bags for brewing.

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Licorice root cough has gained popularity due to the mass of beneficial properties:

  • promotes expectoration;
  • stops the inflammatory process;
  • restores damaged tissue;
  • fights viruses and germs;
  • stimulates immune defense;
  • relieves spasms.

When coughing, the anti-inflammatory and expectorant effects of rhizome are especially important. Licorice is successfully used for respiratory diseases, which are accompanied by poor secretion of secretions: in such cases, the root softens and thins mucus, improving expectoration.

In addition to coughing, licorice root can be prescribed for the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers, gastritis, colitis (for these pathologies, the use of complex drug therapy is necessary).

The effect of cough licorice root is explained by the presence of glycerrhizin in the plant, a substance that is 50 times sweeter than the sugar we are familiar with. It is this substance that causes the specific sweetish flavor of the rhizomes of the plant: its main function is the activation of the ciliary epithelium in the respiratory tract, increased secretion in the upper respiratory tract. Hydrolysis of glycyrrhizin is accompanied by the release of a particular acid, which has the ability to block the development of the inflammatory process.

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The kinetic abilities of licorice root have not been studied.

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Use Licorice root during pregnancy

Licorice root is absolutely contraindicated for use by pregnant patients. There are several reasons for this:

  • Firstly, licorice root can affect the water-salt balance in the body, which is especially undesirable during pregnancy: the risk of edema and such dangerous complications as gestosis increases.
  • Secondly, licorice root has a fairly pronounced hormonal activity, which is fraught with the threat of premature spontaneous abortion.

To date, medicine has a sufficient amount and variety of tools that are allowed to use for the treatment of cough in pregnant women. However, licorice root to such authorized drugs, alas, does not apply.


Like any other drug, including one that has a plant-based, licorice root has several contraindications to use:

  • steady increase in blood pressure, a tendency to hypertension;
  • frequent edema on the body, insufficient kidney function;
  • acute hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, other severe liver pathologies;
  • heart failure;
  • third to fourth degree of obesity.

Any preparations containing licorice root should not be taken during pregnancy, because the plant affects the level of estrogen, which can trigger a hormonal imbalance. The same advice concerns the use of licorice root during breastfeeding.

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Side effects Licorice root

Licorice root can cause allergic reactions, which manifest as rashes, itching, redness and swelling.

Long-term use of rhizome-based products, as well as the use of excessive doses of drugs can lead to disruption of water-salt balance. A sign of such a disorder is edema, hypokalemia, and in some patients blood pressure rises, hypokalemic myopathy and myoglobinuria develop.

The harm of licorice syrup can manifest itself if taken in large quantities or uncontrollably. Some laxative effect of the root is often found in children: frequent stools are noted with no other painful signs. Because of the hormone-like effect, plants in small patients can swell (swell) the mammary glands. And if the baby has problems with the endocrine system, then taking licorice root can aggravate them.

It happens that patients complain: licorice root causes coughing. In fact this is not true. Due to the expectorant action, the production of sputum is activated in the respiratory system, which irritates the walls of the bronchi. This is what causes a certain increase in coughing: after all, the body needs to get rid of mucus, and with it, the infection. After some time, the state returns to normal. If taking licorice root is accompanied by fever, aggravation of other symptoms, treatment should be suspended and consult your doctor.

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Dosing and administration

If it is intended to take licorice root for cough, then the syrup from the plant will be optimal for this purpose. It is taken orally, after meals, up to 4 times a day. It is undesirable to dilute the agent with water, but it is allowed to drink it with liquid (water, tea).

Adults and children over the age of twelve take 15 ml of licorice syrup at a time.

Younger children are recommended such dosage means:

  • children 1-3 years old - 2.5 ml at a time;
  • children 4-6 years old - up to 5 ml at a time;
  • children 7-9 years old - up to 7.5 ml at a time;
  • children 10-12 years old - up to 10 ml at a time.

The duration of treatment is determined for each patient separately: the nature, complexity and other features of the course of the disease, as well as the tolerability of such treatment are taken into account.

  • How to cook licorice root cough at home, and how to drink?

To prepare the broth, you will need 2 tbsp. L crushed rhizomes of a plant and 200-250 ml of boiled water. Roots are put in a saucepan, filled with water, covered with a lid and heated in a water bath for 30 minutes. Allow to infuse for 15 minutes, then filtered and topped up with broth with boiled water to 200 ml. This broth adults drink 2 tbsp. L 30 minutes before meals, four times a day. Children can take the drug for 1-2 hours. Three or four times a day, depending on age.

To prepare the infusion take 200 ml of boiling water and pour 1 tbsp. L licorice, incubated under the lid for about 30 minutes, then filtered. Adults can take an infusion of 1/3 cup (50-60 ml) between meals, 3-4 times a day. Children are offered to take 1-3 teaspoons of the remedy three times a day.

It is even easier to prepare the infusion using special filter bags with chopped licorice root. Enough to fill with boiling water 1-3 bags and insist 20 minutes, then take the product according to the instructions.

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Application for children

Licorice root is actively used to relieve cough in children. The rates of use, the duration of treatment depend not only on the age of the child and the characteristics of the disease, but also on the medicinal form in which licorice is supposed to be used.

Can I give cough licorice root to children, the doctor must decide. If the drug has alcohol supplements in its composition, then its use by children up to 1-2 years is highly undesirable. Syrups that do not contain alcohol, are allowed to offer the child, starting from the age of one year.

Licorice root for children up to a year of cough can be offered in the form of a decoction or infusion, after conducting a test for allergies. Only making sure that there is no hypersensitivity, proceed to treatment with means of licorice root. Dosage and administration for young children should be discussed with the pediatrician.

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Data on overdose of licorice root in the treatment of cough have been reported. It is assumed that such a condition may manifest aggravation and aggravation of side effects.

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Interactions with other drugs

With symptoms of hypokalemia, the condition can be aggravated if the licorice root from cough is used together with cardiac glycosides, antiarrhythmic agents, quinidine.

Licorice root is undesirable to combine with drugs that can cause hypokalemia. These drugs should include thiazides, loop diuretics, adrenocorticosteroids, laxatives. The combination of these drugs can lead to a breakdown of electrolyte balance in the body.

When using other drugs against the treatment of licorice root recommended to withstand 30 minutes between taking various drugs.

Can I mix licorice root with cough mucultin? Theoretically, such a tandem is allowed if the licorice agent does not contain alcohol additives (for example, decoction, infusion, etc.). If it is intended to take alcohol syrup of licorice root with mukaltin, or alcohol tincture, then it is desirable to withstand a half-hour interval between taking two drugs.

It should not be treated with licorice drugs at the same time with drugs that inhibit the cough reflex (for example, codeine-containing drugs).

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Storage conditions

Licorice root syrups are allowed to be stored at normal room temperature, not exceeding + 25 ° C. Infusions and decoctions that are supposed to drink during the day, preferably stored in the refrigerator.

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Shelf life

Licorice root in the form of syrup is allowed to store up to 2 years. If there is no alcohol in the syrup, then after opening the bottle it should be consumed for six months. Alcohol syrup is stored until the expiration date indicated on the package.

Broths and infusions prepared at home, keep in a cool place no more than a day. For each day, you should prepare a new fresh tool.

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The modern pharmaceutical industry sometimes surprises with a variety of different medications designed to fight cough. Even if the patient becomes confused before the choice of drugs, then the pharmacist will always be able to prompt and guide the person to the right medicine. Of course, one should not make such a choice independently: it is better to get competent advice from the doctor.

But sometimes there are situations when it is not possible to take licorice root for cough. And then you have to look for analogues of this tool. What can replace it?

Herbal medicines are always preferable, because they are safe and well tolerated by patients of any age. In addition to licorice root, such herbal preparations also have excellent expectorant properties:

  • Drugs based on ivy plants can also be used with any kind of cough and at any age. The most well-known drugs with ivy in the composition are Gerbion syrup, Prospan and Gédielix.
  • Plantain has a good expectorant effect: it is prescribed even for pregnant women. Such drugs in the pharmacy are presented under the names " Evkabal ", Herbion syrup with plantain, Dr. Theis plantain syrup.
  • Thyme preparations have antimicrobial properties, perfectly soften and facilitate the separation of secretions. The most popular drugs are Bronhikum, Dr. Theis Bronchosept, Tussamag. There are also combined drugs: Bronchipret (combination of thyme with ivy), Herbion syrup primrose (combination of thyme with primrose), Pertussin (combination of thyme with potassium bromide).
  • Marshmallow drugs many people remember from childhood: it is familiar to many Mukaltin and similar syrup marshmallow. Such funds are not only effective, but also economical for the family budget. Mukaltin can be used both for adults and children.

In addition, other means that have been proven over the years can be identified. For example, Pectusin, a combination preparation based on eucalyptus oil and racemol, has a good expectorant and antiseptic property. It not only relieves the cough, but also helps relieve pain from irritated throat.

The course of treatment with the indicated medicines can be calculated for several weeks. But, if during the week the cough does not stop, or even increases, then it is necessary to immediately consult with the doctor.


According to the patients themselves, cough licorice root helps faster if used at the very first signs of respiratory illness. By the way, licorice is one of the most popular cough remedies, which is used in children's practice. The plant can be called a universal preparation, as it is also used for dry cough - for the fastest transformation into a wet one, and for a wet one - to facilitate the separation of mucus.

Treatment of cough must necessarily include a complex of drugs, in accordance with the cause of the disease. After all, we must not forget that licorice root helps to eliminate or alleviate an unpleasant symptom, but it is beyond the power of suppressing an infectious focus: additional help of an antibacterial or antiviral agent is required.

In the opinion of many parents, you should not be afraid of offering cough licorice root to a child. However, treatment should not be chaotic, long-term, and the dosage should be previously agreed with the pediatrician. If done correctly, the child will recover faster, and unpleasant consequences or complications can be avoided.

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It is important to know!

First of all, you might think that the child is sick, and only then think about other reasons. Therefore, you need to pay attention to other symptoms, and be sure to consult a doctor.

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To simplify the perception of information, this instruction for use of the drug "Licorice root: medicinal properties and contraindications" translated and presented in a special form on the basis of the official instructions for medical use of the drug. Before use read the annotation that came directly to medicines.

Description provided for informational purposes and is not a guide to self-healing. The need for this drug, the purpose of the treatment regimen, methods and dose of the drug is determined solely by the attending physician. Self-medication is dangerous for your health.

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