How Licorice Works and Pediatric Indications

How Does Licorice Work?

Licorice has many different effects on the human body, some desirable and some not. One component in particular, known as glycyrrhizin, is responsible for many of the negative effects of licorice, such as high blood pressure and low blood potassium.
On the other hand, licorice may work for treating ulcers or other similar problems, such as heartburn or indigestion, by blocking the breakdown of prostaglandins, substances that help protect the stomach. This effect does not seem to be related to the glycyrrhizin component.
Licorice may also affect certain hormones and hormone receptors. It can have estrogen-like properties in some situations and anti-estrogen properties in other situations (this is possibly related to the licorice dosage). Licorice also decreases testosterone production in men.
In addition, licorice contains flavonoids (plant compounds), which may have many beneficial effects, such as lowering cholesterol.

Does It Benefit Children?

Licorice candy that does not contain real licorice, such as red licorice, is safe for children. However, licorice supplements, extracts, or real licorice candies or beverages may not be safe for children, especially when consumed in large quantities. Do not give your child licorice supplements or extracts without the approval of your child's healthcare provider.
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