Licorice root extract is an ingredient in pills, capsules, candies, teas and liquids. The product can increase your risk of experiencing side effects when combined with certain other supplements. It has health risks of its own, so talk with your doctor if you plan to take licorice root extract regularly. Some candies taste as though they contain licorice extract, but they are actually flavored with anise oil, which tastes similar to licorice. Read the ingredients label to find out whether your product contains licorice.
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Licorice Root Extract
Licorice root extract's active ingredient, glycyrrhizen, appears to cause side effects that can be intensified by other herbs. Glycyrrhizen increases your body's levels of aldosterone, a hormone in charge of sodium regulation. Symptoms of too much aldosterone include high blood pressure, headaches and heart problems. Another version of licorice root extract is available on the market without glycyrrhizen, called DGL, for deglycyrrhizinated licorice. New York University Langone Medical Center cautions that the safety of DGL has not been verified.
Avoid herbs that stimulate bowel movements while taking licorice. Both products can lower potassium levels in the body. Combining laxative herbs with licorice increases your risk of bringing potassium to dangerously low levels. Some laxative herbs are aloe vera, alder buckthorn, castor oil, cascara sagrada, European buckthorn, rhubarb and senna. Having a deficiency of potassium in your body is called hypokalemia. Symptoms include lack of energy, weakness, muscle cramps, an irregular heartbeat, stomach issues and an abnormal EKG test reading.
Herbs Impacting the Heart
With decreased potassium in your body from licorice consumption, you may be susceptible to heart damage. Some herbs can also damage the heart. Combining licorice with heart-damaging herbs can worsen the effects. Lily-of-the-valley, squill, pheasant's eye and digitalis are some herbs that can damage your heart. For example. lily-of-the-valley is considered a poisonous plant. In addition to causing blurred vision, diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness and other symptoms, lily-of-the-valley can cause an irregular and slowed heartbeat.
Supplements aren't the only products that interact with licorice root extract. You can experience adverse side effects if you take it along with several types of medications. For this reason, talk to your doctor before consuming licorice root. Diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, aspirin, digoxin, corticosteroids, insulin, laxatives or oral contraceptives are some types of medications that interact with licorice root extract.