It’s a common supplement for treating menopause symptoms, but scientists fear it isn’t safe.
It’s a distinctive treat many people gobble up at the movie theater and collect in droves on Halloween. And at surface value, it seems to be quite harmless. Licorice is a common candy adored by millions. It’s also something that’s been part of alternative medicine in the form of teas and supplements, going all the way back to ancient Egypt.
What can it do for you? You might eat it to calm digestive problems, soothe your cough and sore throat or even to reduce the symptoms of menopause. Some women are turning to licorice root to reduce hot flashes, but professional chemists are concerned it isn’t safe.
Why? When analyzed from afar, it’s evident that some of the reasoning has to do with self-interest.
Researchers from the American Chemical Society seem to agree strongly that licorice really does have medicinal powers. In fact, that sentiment is powerful enough, the group has announced they’re working on developing their very own line of licorice therapy for menopausal women and that they plan to start clinical trials on supplements sometime this year.
So what’s the problem with buying your own supplements at the drug store?
It’s about interactions.
“The liver has enzymes that process medications, and if these enzymes are induced or inhibited, the drugs will either be processed too quickly or too slowly, respectively,” said Richard B. van Breemen, Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Researchers are afraid licorice is active enough as a natural substance that it could be interfering with any medications you’re taking. In very large amounts, consuming licorice has been found to lead to an irregular heart beat, and tired muscles, among other things.
The newly formulated licorice supplements would be based on the natural substance, but formulated in a way that would be safe for women to consume, even if they’re taking other prescribed medications at the same time.
What if you’re menopausal but meds-free? Talk to your doctor about taking a daily licorice supplement found in stores, and chew away.
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