This herb appears to have promise for treatment
of hepatitis and many have reported favourably on it use.
However in large doses or if taken for extended periods it can
cause potassium depletion which can have serious consequences.
Please consult with your doctor if considering taking licorice in
large doses or for an extended period as he may wish to monitor you
From the "Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine," Michael Murray, N.D. and
Joseph Pizzorno, N.D.
recommended dosage of Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) for hepatitis of
all kinds is:
(Doses 3 times per day)
root (or as tea, 1 to 2 g.
Tincture (1:5), 4-6ml (1 to 1.5 tsp)
extract (1:1), 0.5-2.0 ml (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
Powdered solid extract (4:1), 250-500 mg
liquorice is used over a long time it is necessary to increase the
intake of potassium rich foods.
Double-blind studies have shown a liquorice component to be effective in
treating viral hepatitis, particularly chronic active hepatitis. This
activity is probably due to its well documented antiviral activity. A
glycyrrhizin-containing product (Stronger Neo-minophagen C), consisting
of 0.2 per cent glycyrrhizin, 0.1 per cent cysteine and 2.0 per cent
glycine in physiological saline solution, is widely used intravenously
in Japan for the treatment of hepatitis. The other components, glycine
and cysteine, appear to modulate glycyrrhizin's actions. Glycine has
been shown to prevent the sodium- and water-retaining effects of
glycyrrhizin, while cysteine aids in detoxification via increased
glutathione synthesis and cystine conjugation.
From "Licorice as a liver herb" by Paul Bergner
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a time-honoured herbal medicine in
all world herbal traditions. It is used as a primary herb in perhaps
more categories than any other medicinal plant. It is used with success
for acute respiratory problems, gastric ulcers, gastritis, inflammatory
conditions in general, and adrenal exhaustion. Components of licorice
root have both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activity (Leung; Kraus;
Kumagai et al; Sharaf and Goma; Tamaya et al). It is thus an important
herb for treating hormone-related female
problems. It has not traditionally been used as a liver herb, but
medical research over the past two decades in Japan and China has shown
that licorice is also an important liver herb with strong
hepatoprotectant properties. This should not be thought of as just
another minor use for licorice. It is as significant a hepatoprotectant
as the better-known milk thistle seed, and acts through separate
mechanisms than that herb. The two together should be considered in any
hepatoprotectant formula or treatment plan. Form and dose Most of the
Asian clinical research and practice has been with glycyrrhizin, a major
constituent of licorice root. The product in most Japanese trials is
Strong Neominophagen-C (SNMC) which contains 40 mg glyzyhhrizin, 20 mg
cysteine, and 400 mg glycine in 20 ml saline solution. Cysteine and
glycine are amino acids. A typical treatment for hepatitis is 40 ml of
SNMC a day for thirty days delivering 80 mg of glycyrrhizin per day (Hikino).
The upper range of clinical trials has been 200 ml SNMC (400 mg
glycyrrhizin) (Mori et al, 1989, 1990), but trials above 100 ml (200 mg
glycyrrhizin) have been rare, due to concern over possible side effects
(see below) (Hikino). Oral extracts Comparable therapeutic levels of
glycyrrhizin can probably be reached with oral preparation; important
active constituent of licorice, and therapeutic levels for a wide
variety of conditions are easily achieved with oral administration.
Licorice root (G. glabra) contains 6-14% glycyrrhizin (Merck), so an
oral dose of 7-8 grams powdered licorice would deliver the highest range
of glycyrrhizin used in the hepatitis trials to the gut. This compares
to a traditional Chinese oral dose of 3-12 grams G uralensis (Bensky).
How much of this would reach the plasma, and thus be equivalent to the
intravenous trials, has not been tested. Oral administration of
glycyrrhizin alone or as licorice root extract has been tested in mice
(Ozaki et al), and found to be comparable, with each form achieving
similar levels of glycyrrhizin or its active metabolites in the plasma.
Clinical trials for hepatitis, especially chronic active hepatitis, have
been so successful in Japan that glycyrrhizin is now a standard medical
treatment there (Kumada et al; Matsunami et al.; Ohta et al; Su et al;
Suzuki et al; Wang; Zhang et al).
Mechanisms of hepatoprotection
mechanisms of hepatoprotection are diverse, and include antioxidant
activity (Kiso et al; Abdugafurova et al; Tan; Ju et al), direct
antiviral effects (Hikino; Crance), enhancement of interferon production
(Hikino; Shinada); enhanced antibody production (Hikino), enhancement of
extrathymic T-Cell activity in the liver (Kimura et al), and protection
from immunological (auto-immune) injuries (Hikino; Mizoguchi et al). A
number of animal and in vitro trials have shown that glycyrrhizin can
protect liver cells from damage from a variety of chemical or
immunological agents (Nakamura et al; Mizoguchi et al; Shibayama; Shiki
et al; Zhao et al).
Glycyrrhiza has also been effective in treating HIV/ARC in haemophiliacs,
and, notably, improved liver dysfunction in these patients (Mori et al,
1990; Mori et al, 1989). It has also been effective in preventing the
hepatic side effects of chemotherapy with a methotrexate combination or
interferon (Akimoto et al; Hayashi et al), and in treating general
hepatic failure (Acharya).
reason licorice is so effective in treatment of the liver is that it
enters the enterohepatic loop, that is, it is excreted in the bile, then
reabsorbed in the gut to recycle repeatedly through the liver (Ichikawa;
effects and drug interactions
Licorice produces well-documented side effects when taken in large doses
(>>50 g/day) or for long duration (>>six weeks) (Wichtl). No such side
effects have been observed in clinical trials of 40 ml SNMC/day for
thirty days, or with 100 ml SNMC (200 mg glycyrrhizin/day) ~for a short
period~ (Hikino). With widespread use of SNMC in japan,
hyperaldosteronism was seen with larger doses and extended use (SNMC).
The side effect is reversible on discontinuation of glycyrrhizin.
Licorice or glycyrrhizin may also interact with herbs or other
medications containing cardiac glycosides.
From: CD-ROM "The Herbalist" by David L. Hoffman, B.Sc.
root of licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra L. and Chinese licorice, G.
uralensis, is an important medicine around the world. Glycyrrhizin is
one of the main components of licorice root. During the course of such
clinical use, glycyrrhizin preparations were found to be effective for
chronic hepatitis and have been widely used for chronic hepatitis and
liver cirrhosis in Japan.
Glycyrrhizin inhibits liver cell injury but does not reverse reduced
protein synthesis. It is effective against carbon tetrachloride, benzene
hexachloride, PCB and GalN.
Antibody production is enhanced by glycyrrhizin. When mononuclear cells
from human peripheral blood were stimulated with pokeweed mitogen in the
presence of glycyrrhizin, polyclonal antibody production was
significantly enhanced. Glycyrrhizin may facilitate antibody formation
through the production of interleukin I.
glycyrrhizin inhibits the growth of several DNA and RNA viruses,
inactivating Herpes simplex virus particles irreversibly.
effect against chronic hepatitis was demonstrated in a double-blind test
with 133 patients. Elevated serum transaminase and y-GTP levels were
appears to be effective on the pretreatment of post-transfusion
hepatitis. In one trial comparing glycyrrhizin and an inactive placebo
in 336 patients, a significant reduction of the incidence of non-B
hepatitis after transfusion was observed in the treated group. Because a
remarkable reduction of the incidence of post-transfusion hepatitis was
observed from 2 weeks to 6 weeks after transfusion, suggesting that the
incidence of short-incubation post-transfusion hepatitis might be
suppressed by using glycyrrhizin.
helps prevent post-transfusion hepatitis. When i.v. administration was
continued for about 2 weeks, starting on the day of transfusion, the
incidence of hepatitis was reduced from 17.6 to 12.8%. From these and
other results, it was concluded that the use of this phytochemical is
effective for the prevention of post-transfusion hepatitis.