Licorice has been used as both a food and medicine since ancient times, with strong roots in European medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
It exhibits mineralocorticoid, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, mucoprotective and ulcer-healing activity in humans. Antiviral, antibacterial, antitumour, expectorant and hepatoprotective effects have also been demonstrated.
Licorice is a popular and effective treatment for respiratory tract infections, viral infections, gastrointestinal ulcers and dyspepsia. It is also used to treat chronic stress, chronic fatigue syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome, as well as being a topical treatment for dermatitis and skin allergies.
Licorice is contraindicated in pregnancy, hypotonia, severe renal insufficiency, hypokalaemia, liver cirrhosis and cholestatic liver disease. Caution use with hypertension and fluid retention, and monitor blood pressure with long-term use of the herb.