Candy is Dandy for a Stomachache

Licorice may reduce dyspepsia symptoms

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(RxWiki News) Most people know of licorice as a candy, but this herb can do more than satisfy a sweet tooth. A new study reveals it can ease symptoms associated with functional dyspepsia.

Dyspepsia, or indigestion without a clear cause, is a common problem without an easy solution.

Pharmaceutical produced options, though very effective, carry with them the burdens of high cost and significant side effects.

"Try deglycyrrhizinated licorice extracts to ease dyspepsia."

Licorice, which has been traditionally used to treat dyspepsia, might offer a solution to this problem. However, licorice is not without it’s own set of potentially dangerous side effects.

Whole licorice extracts contain glycyrrhizin, a saponin that inhibits the breakdown of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal gland, which is released during stress or as a wake-up call for the body.

Consuming to much licorice can lead to side effects associated with excess cortisol, such water retention, high blood pressure, and low potassium levels. Extracts like the one used in this study have had the glycyrrhizin removed.

The study was conducted by a team lead by Kadur Ramamurthy Raveendra, out of the Srinivasa Diabetic Research Centre in Bangalore, India. The research team included members of the Natural Remedies Research and Development Centre, the makers of the licorice extract used in the study.

Raveendra’s team studies 50 patients with functional dyspepsia who were randomly assigned into two groups. Over thirty day period, one group took the licorice extract twice daily while the other group took a placebo.

The researchers measured the participants’ symptom severity and how well the treatment worked using a patient questionnaire; once before treatment, once during and once after the conclusion of the trial.

The researchers also measured the change in the participants’ quality of life using a standardized questionnaire to help clarify exactly how the disease affected each patient’s lifestyle.

Patients in the licorice group showed significant improvement in both reported symptom severity and quality of life, with 55% of patients showing significant improvement, and 35% showing a moderate improvement. Conversely, only 55% of placebo patients showed moderate improvement, while the remaining patients had unchanged symptoms throughout the trial.

One limitation of the study is that the researchers relied on patient’s surveys, but this was the only way they could measure functional dyspepsia symptoms.

This study was concluded at the end of 2010 and will be published in the 2012 volume of Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.

The producer of the licorice extract, Natural Remedies LLC, was closely involved with this study. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Last Updated:
February 23, 2012