15% off €35 OR 20% off €40

Code:DEAL
 

15% off €35 OR 20% off €40

Code:DEAL

Buy 1 Get 1 FreeSummer ShopOffersOffers HubBuy One Get One 1/2 PriceSave up to 1/2 priceBuy 1 Get 1 Free25% off Online Only OfferOutletFlash sale up to 50% offFree gift with purchase2 for €61 Mix & MatchShort DatedVitamins & SupplementsVitamins & Supplements HubJoints, Aches & PainsGut HealthImmunityEnergyChildren's HealthHealthy HeartWeight ManagementLow Mood & DepressionStress & AnxietyExercise & RecoveryVitamins & Supplements Shop AllCBDCollagen & SilicaHair, Skin & NailsShop all Hair, Skin & NailsHair GrowthFunctional MushroomsVitaminsShop all VitaminsMultivitaminsVitamin AVitamin BVitamin CVitamin DVitamin EVitamin KVitamin DrinksMineralsShop all MineralsMagnesiumIronZincCalciumSeleniumChromiumSupplementsShop all SupplementsFibre SupplementsAcidophilus & Friendly BacteriaPeppermint OilGrapeseed ExtractLecithinCollagen & SilicaOmega & Fish OilsPlant Sourced SupplementsSuperfood SupplementsArnicaApple CiderRaspberry KetonesAloe VeraChondroitin & MSMCo Enzyme Q10Evening Primrose OilGarlicGlucosamineGlucomannanSeaweed, Kelps and AquaceuticalsDigestive EnzymesSaw palmettoCharcoalWomen's HealthShop all Women's HealthMenopauseMenstrual SupportUrinary Tract HealthPregnancy & ConceptionMen's HealthShop all Men's HealthProstate HealthChildren's HealthConditionShop all ConditionCholesterolAllergy & Hay Fever CareAnxiety SupportBone & Muscle HealthMuscle Support & Joint PainBrain & Memory SupportWomen's HealthMen's HealthChildren's HealthCold & Immune SupportFatigueDigestive HealthHair, Skin & NailsHeart & CirculationLiver CareMood SupportSexual HealthSleep & RelaxationStress ReliefVisionHerbal & Licensed RemediesShop all Herbal & Licensed RemediesValerianRescue RemedyAshwagandhaMilk ThistleGinseng & GuaranaHomeopathic & Flower RemediesShop all Homeopathic & Flower RemediesRescue RemedyFlower RemediesVegan Vitamins & SupplementsBuy One Get One 1/2 PriceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeSave up to 1/2 priceHolland & BarrettVitabioticsSolgarNew NordicBetterYouBioglanNatures AidGrass & Co.PE NutritionH&B ExpertDairy FreeGluten FreeSesame Seed FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeKiwi FreeLupin FreeNew inFood & DrinkFood & Drink HubImmunityExercise & RecoveryGut HealthEnergyJoints, Aches & PainsDental HealthWeight ManagementFood & Drink Shop AllVegan FoodHoney, Jams & SpreadsShop all Honey, Jams & SpreadsManuka HoneyHoneyJams & ChutneysNut ButtersSpreadsPateTeas & Hot BeveragesShop all Teas & Hot BeveragesCoffee & Coffee SubstituteMushroom DrinksTeaSuperfood TeaMatcha & Green TeaSleep & Relaxation TeaDried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsShop all Dried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsDried FruitNutsSeedsMixesSuperfoodsShop all SuperfoodsSuperfood PowdersMoringa PowderSpirulinaGoji BerriesBaobabChia SeedsSnacksShop all SnacksProtein BarsLow Calorie SnacksChocolate, Cakes & BiscuitsSavoury SnacksSweet SnacksSnack BarsCrisps & ChipsFlapjacksPopcornFood CupboardShop all Food CupboardCondiments & SaucesApple Cider VinegarSuperfoodsBreakfast CerealsHoney, Jams & SpreadsTinned FoodsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsBreakfast CerealsShop all Breakfast CerealsCereals, Bran & FlakesGranolaMuesliOats & PorridgeBreakfast BarsDrinksShop all DrinksKombuchaNatural Energy DrinksJuicesSoft DrinksWaterAlcohol Free DrinksCookingShop all CookingCooking IngredientsApple Cider VinegarCondiments & SaucesSoya & Meat AlternativeSoup & Ready MealsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsHerbs, Spices & SeasoningGravy & StockHome BakingShop all Home BakingBaking MixesBreadFlourSweeteners & Sugar AlternativesEgg SubstitutesDairy AlternativesShop all Dairy AlternativesOat, Rice & Hemp DrinksSoya DrinksNut DrinksCoconut DrinksNutritionally Complete FoodBuy One Get One 1/2 PriceSave up to 1/2 price25% off Online Only OfferHolland & BarrettNaturyaGrenadePukkaHeath & HeatherMeridianTwiningsOptimum NutritionNakdHuelGluten FreeDairy FreeEgg FreeWheat FreeMilk FreeSugar FreeSoya FreeCelery FreeFish FreeMustard FreeNew inSports NutritionSports Nutrition HubExercise & RecoveryEnergyWeight ManagementSports Nutrition Shop AllProteinShop all ProteinClear ProteinProtein VeganMeal ReplacementsWhey ProteinMass GainersDiet ProteinCaseinSports SupplementsShop all Sports SupplementsTestosteroneSports CollagenBars, Drinks & SnacksShop all Bars, Drinks & SnacksEnergy BarsProtein BarsProtein ShakesProtein SnacksNutritionally Complete FoodMeal Replacement ShakesPre Workout & EnergyShop all Pre Workout & EnergyPre WorkoutAmino Energy DrinksAmino Energy PowdersIntra WorkoutKetoPost WorkoutAmino AcidsShop all Amino AcidsBCAAL-LysineGlutamineArginineCreatineShop all CreatineCreatine PowderRehydrationShop all RehydrationElectrolytesEnergy GelsVegan Sports NutritionShop all Vegan Sports NutritionVegan ProteinVegan Protein BarsVegan Pre Workout & EnergyVegan Amino AcidsVegan CreatineSports AccessoriesShop all Sports AccessoriesBottles & ShakersFitness GoalShop all Fitness GoalRecoveryMuscle & StrengthLean MuscleEnergy & EnduranceDiet & Weight LossKetoSave up to 1/2 priceBuy One Get One 1/2 Price2 for €61 Mix & MatchPE NutritionOptimum NutritionGrenadeUSNApplied NutritionPhDHuelFoodspringSiSYfoodDairy FreeGluten FreeSugar FreeSoya FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeKiwi FreeNew inBeautyBeauty HubSkin Health - by skin concernDental HealthWomen's Health - Cycles & MenstruationSexual HealthWomen's Health - PregnancyJoints, Aches & PainsChildren's HealthExercise & RecoveryHealthy HeartImmunityNatural Beauty Shop AllAromatherapy & HomeShop all Aromatherapy & HomePure Essential OilsBlended Essential OilsBase & Carrier OilsHolisticSkincareShop all SkincarePremium SkincareFace CareBody CareSun CareTanning & BronzingEye CareLip CareFoot CareHand & Nail CareCBD BeautyHair Skin & NailsShop all Hair Skin & NailsNail ConditionsSkin ConditionsCollagenWashing & BathingShop all Washing & BathingShampoo & ConditionerBathing AccessoriesShower Gel & Body WashDeodorantDentalHand WashSoapBath Soak & OilBody ScrubBath Bombs & SaltsFeminine CareIncontinence SupportHair CareShop all Hair CareShampoo & ConditionerHair ColouringHair MasksHair Oil & SerumHair Spray, Gel & MousseHair AccessoriesMother & BabyShop all Mother & BabyBaby Skincare & ToiletriesMakeupElectrical WellnessSexual WellnessSave up to 1/2 priceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeBuy One Get One 1/2 PriceDr OrganicFaith in NatureWeledaTisserandNaturtintMiaromaQ+AEthiqueTrilogyChilds FarmAlcohol FreeParaben FreeSLS FreeParfum FreePalm Oil FreeGluten FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeNew inWeight ManagementWeight Management HubExercise & RecoveryWeight ManagementEnergyHealthy HeartWeight Management Shop AllSlimming TabletsFat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsShop all Fat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsFat BurnersFat BindersAppetite SuppressantsShakes & Weight Management ShotsShop all Shakes & Weight Management ShotsMeal Replacement ShakesWeight Management ShotsDiet Food & DrinkShop all Diet Food & DrinkDiet FoodLow Calorie SnacksSlimming TeaExercise SupportBuy One Get One 1/2 PriceSave up to 1/2 price2 for €61 Mix & MatchGrenadeOptimum NutritionHolland & BarrettPulsinPhDEat WaterUSNNatures AidSlimExpertApplied NutritionSugar FreeDairy FreeGluten FreeWheat FreeNew inHealth & WellnessShop all Health & WellnessGut HealthSkin Health - by skin concernEnergyJoints, Aches & PainsWomen's Health - Hormonal HealthImmunityWomen's Health - Menopause & PerimenopauseExercise & RecoverySleep & RelaxationLow Mood & DepressionJoints Bones & MusclesGut HealthShop all Gut HealthGut Health FoodGut Health SkincareHair Skin & NailsShop all Hair Skin & NailsNail ConditionsSkin ConditionsCollagenStress AnxietyShop all Stress AnxietyEnergy SupportSleep & RelaxationShop all Sleep & RelaxationRelaxationFood & DietShop all Food & DietKeto FoodMenopauseBuy One Get One 1/2 PriceSave up to 1/2 priceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeHolland & BarrettNaturtintDr OrganicVitabioticsWeledaSolgarNew NordicEthiqueWildNatures AidDairy FreeGluten FreeParaben FreeSLS FreeSugar FreeParfum FreeAlcohol FreeWheat FreeSesame Seed FreeSoya FreeNew inShop for your WellnessWomen's HealthMenopauseSkincareJoints, Bones & MusclesGut HealthHair, Skin & NailsImmunitySleep & RelaxationFood & DietChildren's HealthStress ReliefHealthy HeartEnergyLow Mood & DepressionEye HealthSexual HealthLearn about WellnessWomen's HealthPeriod & Cycle HealthMenopauseImmunityGut HealthFood & DietJoints, Bones & MusclesSports & FitnessSleep & RelaxationHair Skin & NailsArticlesAll articlesHealthFood & nutritionGut healthImmunityJoints, bones & musclesWomen's healthWellnessHair & skinMental wellbeingSeasonalSleep & relaxationSports nutritionRecipesAll recipesGluten freeLow sugarVeganDairy freePodcast

Is liquorice good for you?

liquorice shot

Is liquorice good for you?

Highly distinctive in appearance and flavour, there’s no mistaking a stick of liquorice when you see it.

Some people love it and have done since they were little, and others aren’t so keen on it due to the texture and taste.

Maybe you love it and have wondered how nutritious it actually is or you may not be a fan, but are intrigued to know more about it.

Either way, this article talks you through the ins and outs of black liquorice – the positives, negatives, side effects and all!

What is liquorice?

While the word ‘liquorice’ tends to immediately conjure up images of black bite-sized sweets in our mind, liquorice is actually a plant.1

The liquorice plant, which is related to the pea plant, is native to Southern Asia, but can now be found growing all over the Middle East, southern Europe, and even, Yorkshire.

The roots are used to make the traditional treat we’re all familiar with, which happens to also feature in various soft drinks, snacks, food products and herbal medicines.

Word has it that many centuries ago, it was reportedly drunk by Alexander the Great due to its supposed medicinal qualities.

It’s the anethole content that gives liquorice its distinctive and naturally sweet taste.

Anethole is a compound that’s also found in anise, fennel and numerous herbs.

Black liquorice also contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, which is said to be 50 times sweeter than sugar.

Summary

  • Liquorice is a plant that’s grown worldwide, including in the UK
  • It can be found in sweets, snacks, soft drinks and herbal medicines
  • Black liquorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar

Is liquorice a healthy snack?

As with most things, it’s ok to enjoy liquorice in moderation, but the type that’s coated in sugar or salt isn’t the healthiest choice.

If you can, choose ‘plain’ versions over saltier/sweeter versions and enjoy it in moderation.2

According to guidance published by the NHS, people who are over the age of 40 and have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or both health conditions shouldn’t eat too much of it.3

Why is liquorice bad for you?

The NHS says that if you are in the 40-and-over age bracket and have heart or blood pressure issues and were to eat 57g of black liquorice every day for at least 2 weeks, you could experience serious health problems, including increased blood pressure and an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

This is due to the glycyrrhizin content which, due to the fact it’s so sweet, can change your potassium and sodium levels, which help regulate body fluid.

This change in levels is what can cause blood pressure and heart rhythm issues, as well as fluid retention and muscle weakness.4

However, if you were to stop eating liquorice, your sodium and potassium and fluid levels should go back to normal after a while.

Who should not eat liquorice?

If you are 40+ years old and have heart or blood pressure issues, then it’s best you avoid eating liquorice or eat it in moderation for the reasons listed immediately above.

As we’ve just mentioned, regularly eating lots of liquorice with heart or blood pressure problems can cause some serious side effects, potentially even death.

In fact, in 2019, a 54-year old man in the US died from a heart attack after eating liquorice.

His case has been widely analysed by researchers and academics, with a review in the New England Journal of Medicine concluding that the heart attack was caused by the fact he’d eaten 1 to 2 large bags of black liquorice in the space of 3 weeks.5

You should also avoid black liquorice if you have:

  1. Hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast, ovarian, uterine, or prostate cancer
  2. Fluid retention
  3. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  4. Diabetes
  5. Kidney disease
  6. Liver disease
  7. Low potassium (hypokalemia)
  8. Erectile dysfunction6

Pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn’t have liquorice in any form either due to the fact some studies have found having liquorice during pregnancy can increase the risk of stillbirth.

Black liquorice can also interact with several medications, including:

  1. ACE inhibitors and diuretics –it may reduce the effectiveness of the medication and increase potassium levels.
  2. Digoxin – due to the fact it could possibly increase the toxicity of this particular medication.
  3. Corticosteroids – liquorice may reduce how effective they are.
  4. Insulin or drugs for diabetes – how they work may be impacted due to liquorice changing blood sugar levels.
  5. Laxatives – eating liquorice at the same time as laxatives may lead to a loss in potassium.
  6. MAO inhibitors – liquorice may increase the strength of the medication.
  7. Oral contraceptives – certain studies have found women may be more susceptible to developing high blood pressure and low potassium levels when taking oral contraceptives and eating liquorice at the same time.
  8. Medications processed by the liver – liquorice may impact their ability to work properly.

Black liquorice side effects

In addition to impacting people’s potassium, sodium and body levels, black liquorice can also cause several other side effects, including:

  1. Pseudoaldosteronism 

Pseudoaldosteronism is a health condition that can lead to people becoming overly sensitive to a hormone within their adrenal cortex.

As a result, they can experience headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks.

Pseudoaldosteronism may also cause water retention, which can lead to leg swelling and other problems.7,8

  1. Muscle pain

  2. Muscle weakness

  3. Numb arms and legs

  4. Headaches

  5. Fatigue

  6. Swelling

  7. Fluid retention

All of these side effects are linked to having high levels of glycyrrhizic within the body.

If you experience any of these side effects and have been eating black liquorice, stop eating it immediately and speak to your GP if you are concerned about your health.

Summary

  • Liquorice that’s not coated in sugar or salt is the healthier option
  • If you are over the age of 40 and have heart and blood pressure issues, you should eat it with caution
  • If you have these health issues and eat 57g of black liquorice a day for a least 2 weeks you may develop serious health problems, such as increased blood pressure and an irregular heart rhythm

What are the benefits of liquorice?

We’ve explained some of the downsides of regularly eating liquorice.

Other than the taste (if you happen to like it) what are the advantages of consuming liquorice? Are there any?

There are, we’ve listed 9 of them down below.

9 liquorice benefits

  1. Treat stomach bacteria

The H.pylori bacteria has been linked to the development of peptic ulcers in the small intestine, lower oesophagus and stomach.

But a 2016 study in The Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases journal reported that liquorice extract can wipe out the H.pylori bacteria which, in turn, can help prevent people from suffering from peptic ulcers.9

  1. Improve dental health

The liquorice root extract has been proven to prevent cavities from forming because it helps keep cavity-causing bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans,10 at bay.

Research has found that liquorice can kill the bacteria that cause dental decay.

It can also help treat mouth ulcers, according to researchers at the University of Washington.11 12

  1. Heal skin conditions

Liquorice root has antibacterial properties, which has led to it being used to help with skin infections caused by staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

This particular strain of bacteria can cause skin conditions, such as impetigo, with a study carried out in 2010 in Iran finding that liquorice root and leaves are effective at treating this particular skin condition.13

  1. Provide digestive support

Liquorice root extract may help ease digestive discomfort.

According to a 2011 study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it was effective at helping people with indigestion.

They took 75mg of liquorice root extract twice a day for 30 days.

By the end of the study, most of their symptoms, such as bloating and loss of appetite, had improved.14

  1. Calm soothe throats

Liquorice root extract is a common ingredient in herbal teas that have been specifically developed to help soothe sore throats.

Researchers in Egypt gave liquorice to one set of patients to gargle with just before an operation.

The study concluded that the liquorice gargle was just as effective as the traditional gargle solution at reducing the level of discomfort caused by having to remove the breathing tube that had been placed in their throats for the operation.15

  1. Treat Hepatitis C

The liver infection, Hepatitis C, can potentially be treated using liquorice root extract due to its glycyrrhizin content.

In Japan, health professionals are giving glycyrrhizin injections to people with chronic hepatitis, who haven’t seen effective results with other treatments.16

  1. Tasty treat

We know it can come with its side effects, but there’s nothing quite like the taste of liquorice!

You can drink it you can eat it and it can satisfy the sweetest of sweet tooths!

Just make sure you treat yourself to this bitter yet sweet treat every now and then.

  1. Reduce menopausal symptoms

Liquorice can help with hot flushes, which has been proven by research published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmacological Research.

Menopausal women, who were experiencing hot flushes, were given 330mg of liquorice root extract 3 times a day.

The number of flushes they had and their severity had reduced by the end of the study.17

  1. Treat bronchitis

Liquorice root may slow down the rate at which chronic bronchitis develops in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Studies carried out in Taiwan, found that the glycyrrhizic, asiatic and oleanolic acids found in liquorice root have an antioxidant effect that protects bronchial cells.

As a result, it was concluded that liquorice may help slow down the progression of COPD when used with standard medical treatments.

Further research is required to further evidence this initial research.18

Summary

  • The health benefits that have been linked to liquorice are widespread
  • They include killing the bacteria that can cause dental cavities and peptic ulcers
  • It can also be used to ease hot flushes, sore throats and indigestion

Takeaway

Many people merely think of liquorice as being nothing more than a children’s sweet, but its make-up is incredibly powerful; powerful enough to heal certain health conditions.

At the same time, eating too much of it can cause issues, some extremely serious, especially for people with pre-existing health conditions.

Just be mindful if/when next time you have some because it’s a sweet treat that really does pack a serious punch, on multiple levels.

Now that you've read about liquorice, why not have a go at making some liquorice, coconut, honey and sea salt ice cream?

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 22 September 2021

Sources

  1. https://www.allthingsliquorice.co.uk/side/liquorice-a-little-history.html
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/can-eating-too-much-black-liquorice-be-bad-for-you/#:~:text=Yes%2C%20particularly%20if%20you're,irregular%20heart%20rhythm%20(arrhythmia).
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/can-eating-too-much-black-liquorice-be-bad-for-you/#:~:text=Yes%2C%20particularly%20if%20you're,irregular%20heart%20rhythm%20(arrhythmia).
  4. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/ask-the-expert/liquorice
  5. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a34238358/is-black-licorice-good-for-you/
  6. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/licorice
  7. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/licorice
  8. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-licorice-root-89727#possible-side-effects
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1413867016301696#!
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21108917/
  11. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/np2004775
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18348383
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3870067/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3123991/
  15. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323761
  16. https://www.pnas.org/content/105/37/14204
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832176/
  18. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-licorice-root-89727
 
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • AmericanExpress
  • PayPal
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Copyright © Holland & Barrett Limited, 2024. All rights reserved. hollandandbarrett.ie is a trading name of Holland & Barrett Limited. Registered office: 45 Henry Street, Dublin, Dublin 1, D01 E9X8. Registered in Ireland: Company no. 79819. Registered VAT no. 4682002U.