Licorice Root Tea: Benefits & Side Effects
Licorice root is a popular herbal remedy that is most commonly used to flavor and sweeten candies and sweet treats. The root is also an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine and has long been consumed as an herbal tea.
This delicious tea features a rich flavor profile with sweet, salty, bitter, and sour notes. The nuanced taste makes for an exquisite tea-drinking experience where each sip is layered and flavorful. Learn more about licorice root tea plus its benefits and side effects right here.
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What Is Licorice Root Tea?
Licorice root tea is made from the root of the licorice plant known by the botanical name Glycyrrhiza glabra. It's also commonly called licorice tea or sweet root tea. The tea boasts a flavor similar to black licorice and has notes of anise and peppermint.
The licorice plant is native to Europe and Asia and was prized by the early Egyptians for its flavor and purported health benefits. Depending on the strain of the plant and production methods, licorice tea may be made from glycyrrhizin and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL).
Some research shows that licorice root tea may offer benefits for human health ranging from sore throat improvement to reduced risk of heart disease. While the plant may offer health benefits, there are also some risks associated with its long term use. Here, we'll dive deeper into the research behind the benefits and show you what to watch out for when drinking this herbal tea.
Health Benefits of Licorice Root Tea
Traditionally, licorice root tea was used to help ease digestive problems and soothe symptoms associated with nausea and upset stomach. The tea also boasts antispasmodic effects, which may help with gas and bloating. Recent research shows there may be some benefits for healthy digestion.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the impacts of licorice root on heartburn and indigestion. The study consisted of 54 patients and showed that individuals who took a licorice extract pill twice daily each day had significant improvements in symptoms (1).
Another study examined the gut benefits of licorice root and was published in the Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases. The clinical trial consisted of 120 patents and investigated the impacts of licorice root on the bacteria H. pylori, which is known to cause sores and peptic ulcers.
Researchers found that regular use of licorice root extract helped to eliminate the H. pylori bacteria. These antibacterial effects may help to protect digestion from harmful pathogens (2).
Licorice root tea contains antioxidants and compounds that boast anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking this herbal tea may help to eliminate free radicals that cause oxidative stress and premature aging.
Research published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research also found that licorice root tea may help the millions of Americans who suffer from eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. The study found that licorice root offers an antimicrobial activity that can help cleanse the skin and keep bacteria that cause inflammation at bay (3).
The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of licorice root tea may offer some benefits for oral health. The root has been shown in laboratory settings to fight bacteria that may cause plaque build-up and cavities.
A small study published in the Journal of Natural Products investigated the effects of licorice root on bacteria that cause oral health problems. Researchers found that licorice root contains flavonoids and coumarins that help to fight bacteria that cause bad breath and canker sores (4).
Licorice root tea is one of the best teas to drink when you have a sore throat or a cough. The tea contains compounds that can coat the throat and help ease feelings of an itchy and scratchy throat. The antibacterial properties of the tea may also help the immune system eliminate bacteria that is causing an infection to begin with.
A study published in the Egyptian Journal of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia examined the effects of licorice root on sore throat symptoms post-surgery. The participants consisted of individuals who had a breathing tube during a procedure. Following the removal of the breathing tube, participants expressed sore throat symptoms. Researchers found that patients who gargled with licorice root for 1 to 15 minutes before surgery had significantly decreased reports of sore throat following the procedure (5).
Side Effects of Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root tea is safe for consumption when taken in moderate amounts. Long term use or consumption of large amounts can lead to serious side effects. Read on to find out what you should watch out for when drinking this herbal tisane.
Licorice root tea may not be safe for women who are pregnant. Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that overexposure to glucocorticoids — natural constituents of licorice root — resulted in a higher risk of cognitive and psychiatric problems in children (6). Additional research indicated excessive licorice root consumption could lead to premature births (7).
Pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant should avoid drinking licorice root tea. Always talk to a qualified healthcare professional before taking herbal supplements when pregnant.
Licorice may interfere with medications that control potassium and blood pressure. In addition, the root may cause negative reactions when combined with blood thinners, adrenal gland medications, and hormonal therapies including birth control pills. This tea may also interfere with medications that control water retention.
Low Potassium Levels
Drinking large amounts of licorice tea can result in low potassium levels. Symptoms of low potassium include high blood pressure, tiredness, heart failure, and irregular heartbeat. Limit your consumption of products containing glycyrrhizic acid — including licorice root tea — to 100 milligrams per day to avoid adverse effects.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve the use of licorice root tea in the treatment of any illnesses or ailments. Always seek medical advice from a healthcare professional before drinking herbal teas as they may interact with certain medications and cause problems for people with certain health conditions. A doctor can also help you understand the potential benefits and side effects associated with licorice root tea.
How to Make Licorice Root Tea
Simple Licorice Root Tea Recipe
- 1 teaspoon Cup & Leaf Licorice Root Tea
- 8 to 10 ounces of water
- Sweetener (lemon, honey, or agave) OPTIONAL
- Bring water to a rapid boil in a large saucepan.
- Remove the pan from heat and add in the loose leaf tea. Use a tea strainer to keep the leaves contained.
- Steep the tea leaves for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the leaves and pour into a teacup. Add sweetener if desired and enjoy!
Fall in Love With Licorice
Licorice root tea has long been used as herbal medicine and a flavoring in licorice candy and sweets. The natural remedy has been purported to help with everything from erectile dysfunction to heart diseases. Recent medical research shows there may be some benefits for digestive health, oral health, and skin health.
Remember to consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before you use licorice root as a natural remedy. When drinking licorice tea, always choose organic loose leaf blends over tea bags as the bags may contain additives and do not fully infuse flavor as well as loose leaf tea.