Benefits of Licorice Root

An A+++ rating:
Benefits of Licorice Root
include Adrenals, Asthma,
and Acid Reflux.

I am afraid the benefits of licorice root have been overlooked because of widespread fear of the side effects of this medicinal herb. And in one way, I am actually glad there is caution over the use of a licorice supplement. With careless, unsupervised use, it would be possible to cause high blood pressure, sodium and water retention and low potassium levels. But we know from careful clinical studies how to administer a proper dose of licorice based on a patient’s body weight, so as long as you are getting advice from a physician trained in herbal medicine, you can be very safe. In fact, the only recent cases we have of toxicity from licorice root side effects were in people who were eating massive amounts of the candy every day.

I recently made a licorice supplement in my kitchen, from bulk licorice root, an alcohol based solution and some natural flavors. It tastes nothing like the candy, which I dislike. The benefits of licorice root as this sort of tincture or as an extract in pill form are powerful in several ways in the human organism.


Licorice supports the adrenal gland, protecting it from stress, helping to maintain normal (not elevated or depressed) levels of cortisol in the body. This can be a helpful addition to the treatment of someone with chronic fatigue. All without adding a prescription corticosteroid, which has also been used to help recovery from chronic fatigue.

A licorice supplement also is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is very helpful for persons with asthma or allergies. While licorice for asthma can be very helpful, I only suggest it as an addition to standard medication and medical care for asthma. Especially in my role as a pediatrician, I have seen too many critically ill children with asthma in hospitals and intensive care units; please do not stop any prescriptions for asthma even if a doctor gets you started on licorice root in addition.

The final role for licorice which I want to mention here is that of protecting the stomach and esophagus from acid reflux. But not just any licorice will do for that: only deglycyrrhizinated licorice, DGL. DGL is a licorice root extract with the glycyrrhizin removed, so that it no longer has the anti-inflammatory and adrenal support properties. But what it has left at that point is a powerful ability to protect the lining of the stomach and esophagus from acid damage. While it is not an anti-acid, it still protects against the effects of excess acid. My patients who have had severe heartburn symptoms have reported great relief after starting a daily program of chewable DGL before meals and at bedtime. Be warned however, it does not taste very good!

I hope that in this short overview, you get a good sense of how beneficial this herbal medication can be, and how the benefits of licorice root touch many areas of the body. I also want to stress again with this herb that you find a physician who has studied herbal medicine to help you decide on a dose and duration to get the best effectiveness without side effects.


Be well, and stay in touch…




Robert Pendergrast, M.D. 

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