Licorice root is an herb that people have used in foods and medicinal remedies for thousands of years. Though people have used herbs for centuries, you should be very careful about using herbs and supplements when you are pregnant and should never use an herbal supplement without consulting your physician. Because licorice root may cause miscarriage or premature delivery, you should not take licorice root if you are pregnant.
You may know licorice root as a flavoring for tobacco, candy and jelly beans. It's sometimes referred to as “sweet root” because it contains a compound that's about 50 times sweeter than natural sugar. Both Western and Eastern medicine have utilized licorice root to treat peptic ulcers, canker sores, eczema, indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux disease and even upper respiratory infections.
You should avoid taking licorice root orally if you are pregnant. Drugs.com explains that licorice root exhibits estrogen-like activity within the body that can potentially cause women to miscarry or go into early labor.
Because there's not enough evidence to show that licorice root is safe to use while breastfeeding, the National Institutes of Health advises lactating mothers to avoid the herb as well.
Licorice root is known to interfere and interact with many medications, as well. The National Institutes of Health says that licorice root can increase the risk of side effects in other medications due to its ability to decrease how quickly the liver breaks down the medication. High doses of licorice can increase blood pressure, decreasing the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. It can also decrease potassium levels within the body and cause fluid retention.
Many herbs are safe to take during pregnancy, but licorice root taken orally is not one of them. You should consult your physician before using licorice root topically or by any other form.
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