What are the Most Common Licorice Side Effects?

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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2019
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Any licorice product, including candies, beverages, supplements and extracts, that contains real licorice ingredients can give rise to licorice side effects. They usually can be attributed to the licorice component glycyrrhizin, which is present in many licorice products but is not present in candy that is known as "red licorice." Licorice side effects can seem harmless, but they also can be similar to extreme health problems such as congestive heart failure.

Some common licorice side effects include headaches, high blood pressure, hypertension, upset stomach, diarrhea, lethargy, facial puffiness, ankle swelling, fluid retention, muscle weakness, muscle pain, arrhythmia and grogginess. The body's electrolyte balance also can be effected, because licorice can cause the body to deplete its storage of potassium but retain sodium. When taking licorice, users should consider increasing their intakes of potassium, monitoring blood pressure and regularly checking electrolytes for imbalances.

The side effects of licorice can be similar to other diseases or disorders such as congestive heart failure, hormonal imbalances and allergic reactions. Users can experience symptoms that resemble congestive heart failure, such as water retention, weight gain, swelling of the hands or feet and shortness of breath. Hormonal symptoms such as skipped menstrual periods, low libido and impotence can be effects of licorice consumption. Rashes, itches, hives, wheezing, breathing difficulties and swelling of the mouth or throat might be suffered as well.


People who have histories of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, edema, glaucoma, kidney or liver diseases, menstrual problems or strokes should not take licorice. Licorice should not be used during pregnancy, because it can increase blood pressure and levels of the hormone aldosterone. It also can result in premature delivery. Women who experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) should avoid taking licorice root, because it can compound PMS symptoms such as fluid retention and bloating.

Though different from licorice root, licorice candy also can cause side effects. It's not uncommon for someone who ingests licorice candy to experience an increase in blood pressure. All licorice side effects should be considered serious and should be reported to a health care professional if they are experienced.

To avoid suffering from licorice side effects, users should avoid taking it for more than a week. Licorice is best consumed under the supervision of a physician. The best physicians to oversee licorice consumption are, arguably, those who have been trained in botanical medicine or natural remedies. These physicians are more likely to be familiar with the medicinal uses of licorice and its side effects. Consumers who want to reduce their risk of experiencing side effects should seek to purchase licorice products that are deglycyrrhizinated, which means that they have had the glycyrrhizin removed from them.


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Post 6

I've been taking DGL supplements to help with my stomach issues, and I've recently started breaking out in hives. Have other people had this issue when they have taken DGL supplements? My naturopath thinks that being allergic to DGL is highly improbable but I'm starting to think differently.

Post 4

It may have caused me shortness of breath just hours after drinking the tea.

Post 3

@turkay1-- It's not uncommon. When I drink licorice tea on a regular basis, I have the same problem. My doctor told me not to have it too frequently for this reason. I personally think that the headaches might be due to an electrolyte imbalance that licorice causes. Or it might be affecting my hormones, I don't know.

There are other great herbal teas with less side effects you can drink for your stomach. Try mint tea, chamomile tea or linden tea. Licorice tea side effects are too many.

Post 2

I drink licorice tea sometimes to soothe my stomach. It works well, but I've noticed that it gives me a headache. Is this common?

Post 1

I discovered that licorice can raise blood pressure the hard way. I have high blood pressure but I take medications daily to treat it. My son sent me a box of licorice candies that he got from Europe. I had mentioned it to him that I used to eat licorice candies a lot as a child but couldn't get a hold of them now.

Needless to say, I got very excited about the candies and had way too many in the same day. After a few hours of eating them, I started feeling pressure in my chest. This is the main symptom I get when my blood pressure is higher than normal. I checked my BP right away with

my monitor and it was 160/100 which is too high for me. I took another medication and it dropped soon after that but I think it would have gone up higher if I hadn't taken an extra tablet.

So a warning to those with high BP, be very careful when consuming licorice. If you must have some, have a little bit and then wait for a while to see how your BP will be affected. I'm very careful when consuming licorice now, I try to avoid it. It's sad because I love the flavor and I believe that licorice has some benefits too, but sometimes the side effects outweigh the benefits. Of course, moderation is key too.

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