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Hypothyroidism happens in people with decreased or absent thyroid function and thyroid hormone production. Since thyroid hormones play an essential role in stimulating energy production, a deficiency of these hormones may result in extreme fatigue. Hypothyroidism is a major cause of fatigue but not all fatigue is due to impaired thyroid function. Herbs such as licorice may be utilized in the treatment of hypothyroidism. If you want to use licorice or other herbs, talk to your doctor first.
Licorice and Hypothyroidism
Many people who have suffered from hypothyroidism have found that small, safe dosages of licorice have been dramatically beneficial when prescribed by their physicians, says Dr. Subhuti Dharmananda, the Director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Oregon 1. People with hypothyroidism often produce lower levels of cortisol -- an hormone that helps your body cope with stress. Licorice stimulates the production of cortisol by the thyroid gland, suggesting that it could be useful in the treatment of hypothyroidism.
- Many people who have suffered from hypothyroidism have found that small, safe dosages of licorice have been dramatically beneficial when prescribed by their physicians, says Dr. Subhuti Dharmananda, the Director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Oregon 1.
- People with hypothyroidism often produce lower levels of cortisol -- an hormone that helps your body cope with stress.
Other Health Benefits
Licorice & Allergies
In a 2010 study by Yoon Hee Kim and colleagues at the Hallym University in Korea, a phenolic compound isolated from licorice root has shown to have anti-cancer activity. The phenolic compound, licochalcone A, helps the body destroy tumor cells by increasing immune cell activity. In addition to the anti-tumor effects, several studies found that licorice root is useful in the treatment of various skin conditions such as abscesses, eczema, burns and a variety of skin wounds.
Side Effects: Potassium Deficiency
The glycyrrhizin in licorice produces effects similar to those of the natural hormone aldosterone. Aldosterone depletes potassium in the body. For this reason, do not take licorice at high doses. Potassium plays an important part in the transmission of nerve impulse and normal heart function. Therefore, severe potassium deficiency caused by excessive consumption of licorice or other causes can lead to the pathogenesis of many nerve and heart disorders.
- The glycyrrhizin in licorice produces effects similar to those of the natural hormone aldosterone.
- Aldosterone depletes potassium in the body.
Thyroid Shrinking With Herbs
Licorice may lower blood glucose levels by an unknown mechanism. Therefore, long-term use of licorice at high doses can cause hypoglycemia or excessively low blood sugar levels. People who take glucose-lowering medications and insulins should use licorice with caution and only under the supervision of their doctors.
- Licorice may lower blood glucose levels by an unknown mechanism.
- People who take glucose-lowering medications and insulins should use licorice with caution and only under the supervision of their doctors.
Licorice & Allergies
Thyroid Shrinking With Herbs
L-Carnitine & Hypothyroidism
Is 20mg of Licorice Root a Safe Dosage?
Melatonin & Thyroid Disorders
Licorice for Gastritis
How Does Licorice Root Help Lower Libido?
What Natural Herbs Can Lower Testosterone & Increase Estrogen?
Can Certain Herbs Increase Dopamine?
Weight Loss and Synthroid
- Institute for Traditional Medicine: Treatment for Thyroid Diseases With Chinese Herbal Medicine; Subhuti Dharmananda
- "Biochemical Pharmacology"; Antiangiogenic Effect of Licochalcone A; Y.H. Kim, et al.; October 2010
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Licorice
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Licorice; Steven D. Ehrlich; March 2010
- NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Licorice root. Updated December 1, 2016.
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- Zhao H, Zhang X, Chen X, et al. Isoliquiritigenin, a flavonoid from licorice, blocks M2 macrophage polarization in colitis-associated tumorigenesis through downregulating PGE2 and IL-6. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 2014;279(3):311-321. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2014.07.001
- Nahidi F, Zare E, Mojab F, Alavi-Majd H. Effects of licorice on relief and recurrence of menopausal hot flashes. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research: IJPR. 2012;11(2):541-8.
- Hajiaghamohammadi AA, Zargar A, Oveisi S, Samimi R, Reisian S. To evaluate of the effect of adding licorice to the standard treatment regimen of helicobacter pylori. The Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2016;20(6):534-538. doi: 10.1016/j.bjid.2016.07.015
- Irani M, Sarmadi M, Bernard F, Ebrahimi Pour GH, Shaker Bazarnov H. Leaves antimicrobial activity of Glycyrrhiza glabra L. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research: IJPR. 2010;9(4):425-8.
- Penn State Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Licorice.
- Omar HR, Komarova I, El-Ghonemi M, et al. Licorice abuse: time to send a warning message. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology. 2012;3(4):125-138. doi:10.1177/2042018812454322
- Räikkönen K, Martikainen S, Pesonen A, et al. Maternal licorice consumption during pregnancy and pubertal, cognitive, and psychiatric outcomes in children. Am J Epidemiol. 2017;185(5):317-328. doi:10.1093/aje/kww172
- Consumer Reports. Food and drug interactions you need to know about. Updated November 4, 2018.
- Winchester Hospital. Library. Updated April 11, 2011.
- Consumer Reports. How to choose supplements wisely. Updated October 30, 2019.
- FDA. Black licorice: Trick or treat? Updated November 6, 2017.
Henry Pitot has been writing since 1992. His work has appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals, including "The Lancet" and Cancer Research Online. He is certified in oncology and hematology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He received his Doctor of Medicine from University of Wisconsin in 1986.