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Licorice / Cortisol confusion, any experts on this?


This has had me wondering for a while. Perhaps someone here might have insight.

Quite some time ago I read that licorice works as an anti inflammatory and does so by stimulating cortisol production in the body. I would frequently use licorice tea for that purpose, and always enjoyed it. This was before I ever experienced any anxiety problems.

After experiencing anxiety, I did more research and learned about coritsol being one of the so-called "stress hormones". More of it is produced during times of anxiety and it more or less gives you the "flight" as opposed to the "fight" feeling that adrenaline provides. (I know that's probably an over-simplification, but someone correct me if I'm way off)

So my question is, if licorice stimulates cortisol production, and stress/anxiety are a result of too much cortisol...then why do many TCM formulas for anxiety (as well as many "relaxing" or "anti-stress" teas, etc) contain licorice?

Also, seems I read somewhere that licorice can affect the heart, so if I'm having palpitaions, should I steer away from formulas with licorice? (or is it all in the balance & dosage amounts?)

Really curious about this. Hope someone can help.



As I&#39ve stated previously you should consult directly with a practitioner (in person) who is familiar with your case and who has personally diagnosed you with questions of this nature. In the most general terms possible, however, your last statement "all in the balance and dosage" is quite correct. You would likely have to regularly take 12+ grams of licorice before you had real problems. It is in many herbal formulas mostly as a harmonizing agent. From our licorice root page you will see it says "Often used to harmonize and/or moderate characteristics of other herbs".


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