You may have seen the headlines. A recent study has found that licorice, which is increasingly being used by women to counteract menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, may interact with drugs.
Not all licorice is the same
The findings, which were presented at the 254th National Meeting Exposition of the American Chemical Society looked at three types of licorice – Glycyrrhiza uralensis and Glycyrrhiza inflata, and a European species called Glycyrrhiza glabra. They found, contrary to the headline, that Glycyrrhiza glabra was less likely to interfere.
But the problem is many licorice products don’t state which type of licorice is used, so it is hard for someone to find the right licorice. Add to that it is hard to tell how “unadulterated” the product is that you are taking or how it is sourced.
As herbalists we use Glycyrrhiza glabra, the variety least likely to interfere with medication, but we do use it with caution.
Licorice is a great herb. Very good for dry lungs, sore throats coughs and colds. It can also help with cramps and ulcers.
One of its big uses is in relation to exhaustion, helping to support and re-energize the body by working on the kidneys and adrenals. It’s a tasty herb, so we often add it to herbal formulas to give a nice sweet flavour.
But it does have to be administered with care and by a trained herbalist. This is because it can increase blood pressure and is not to be prescribed in cases of oedema.
Many herbs can help with menopausal/menstruation symptoms
Of course, there are many herbs which can help with menopausal symptoms from anxiety to dryness, low energy, poor sleep and hot flushes.
Similarly, in relation to menstruation problems, such as premenstrual tension, PCOS, lack of periods or periods which are too heavy.
In general I would caution against taking large doses of licorice (even the edible type) and if you do have menopausal problems, have a chat with a herbalist before deciding on your treatment.
A small number of herbs can interact with medication and it is important to be aware of this, particularly if you are taking them long-term.
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, come and see us for a consultation – firstname.lastname@example.org.