History of the endocrine effects of licorice

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2002 Sep;110(6):257-61. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-34587.


The history of licorice as an officinal plant dates back thousands of years, and licorice is still appreciated as a medicinal root. Many of its endocrine properties can be derived from observations of Authors of the ancient world, when hormones were not known. Inappropriate use of licorice can produce pseudoaldosteronism, by inactivating 11beta-hydroxysteroiod-dehydrogenase and by binding to mineralocorticoid receptors. Licorice possesses many other therapeutic properties as to potentiate the action of cortisol, to reduce testosterone synthesis, especially in women, to exert an estrogen-like activity and to reduce body fat mass. The chronological development of research on these effects is described.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine Glands / physiology*
  • Glycyrrhiza / adverse effects
  • Glycyrrhiza / physiology*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy / history*
  • Plants, Medicinal / physiology