Because there is some evidence that licorice may stimulate uterine contractions or affect estrogen levels, women who are pregnant should probably avoid consuming real licorice. Also, licorice can cause serious side effects, especially in people who have high blood pressure or heart problems. If you are consuming licorice and pregnancy occurs, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.
Licorice and Pregnancy: An Overview
It is not known if real licorice (not red licorice or "licorice" products flavored with anise) is safe for pregnant women. There is some evidence that real licorice may increase the risk of premature labor.
Is Licorice Safe During Pregnancy?
Licorice can stimulate uterine contractions and may also affect estrogen. Sometimes, licorice has estrogen-like effects, and sometimes it has anti-estrogen effects. Some research suggests that women who consume a large amount of licorice have an increased risk of premature labor and delivery. It is probably safe to eat a little licorice candy now and then, but regular consumption or taking licorice extracts or supplements should be avoided during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, it is always a good idea to have a discussion with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including licorice extracts or supplements.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 29, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: Licorice root (June 2006). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot/. Accessed January 29, 2008.
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