Liquorice During Pregnancy- Pros And Cons

6 min read

Liquorice During Pregnancy

Have you ever tasted liquorice? You are thinking of those juicy sticky candy sticks, aren’t you? Nah, we are not talking about that red or black colored candy. We are asking you about the Liquorice root, the herb. Yes, it can be quite confusing!

The liquorice candy actually uses very little to no liquorice root and uses anise oil for the flavor profile. Now coming back to the herb – all herbs are supposed to be good and have many health benefits right, especially when pregnant? Wrong! Liquorice during pregnancy is something a pregnant woman is advised to avoid. Read on to find out why exactly.

In This Article

What is Liquorice?

Glycyrrhiza glabra is more commonly known as Liquorice. Liquorice is an herb found in parts of Europe and Asia. The sweet and aromatic flavor extracted from this root is predominantly used to flavor candies. The root of this herb has medicinal values. It can help with eczema, liver swelling as well as mouth ulcers. Traditional Chinese, Greek, and Middle Eastern medicine use these roots to calm down an upset stomach. It has also been used to treat respiratory problems, as it is believed to thin down the mucus secretions as well as alleviate cough.

Benefits of Liquorice During Pregnancy

liquorice red candy sticks during pregnancy

Now if you are craving the liquorice candy sticks, you can eat the red ones, if your doctor says ok. The black ones have to be avoided as they have more of the root extract than the red ones. You may think candy is harmless even in pregnancy. However, there are studies that show otherwise. The studies show that children born to mothers who ate a lot of liquorice during pregnancy performed lesser than other children.

  • When it comes to the roots, it can be an effective remedy for heartburns, fungal infections, viral infections, and even athlete’s foot.
  • It is believed to regulate stress hormones, thus helping with depression and the likes.
  • This is something a pregnant woman with mood swings can use. But, elders and doctors say a strict no when it comes to pregnant women consuming liquorice.

However, this medicinal root with a number of medicinal values and benefits for a common person fails to do the same for pregnant women. The negative effects triumph over the benefits when you are pregnant.

[Read : 5 Tips To Minimize Water Retention During Pregnancy]

Adverse Effects of Liquorice

Consuming more than 2mg of glycyrrhizinic acid (a component in liquorice) per day can cause great harm to the body. It can increase your blood pressure; weaken muscles; cause hypokalemia or sometimes even result in death. Prolonged consumption of this root might increase the glycyrrhizinic acid component in your blood. So, do check with your doctor regarding regular consumption of this root.

Negative Effects of Having Liquorice During Pregnancy

pregnant women high blood pressure

Liquorice has medicinal qualities that can even cause numbness, increase your blood pressure, increase water retention and in some rare cases, even cause heart attacks. Now, this is definitely not something to risk when you are pregnant. A pregnant woman already retains a lot of water in her body and experiences gestational high blood pressure. The body reacts differently even to the “usually safe” things. Some of the other health complications a pregnant woman can suffer from eating liquorice are:

1. Premature Birth Due to Liquorice During Pregnancy

The liquorice extract can reduce the gestational period and result in a preterm delivery or even miscarriages.

2. Impair Brain Development

The glycyrrhizin in the extract can cause the stress hormones in the mothers’ bodies to reach the baby. This can affect the brain development of the fetus inside. It can cause behavioral issues in the child or even decrease intelligence levels and performance, after birth.

3. Estrogen Effect

It is not very clear as to why, but consuming too much liquorice can have hormonal effects on the baby. Girl babies can attain puberty early and boy babies might develop testicular abnormalities.

4. Impact Cognitive Development

As mentioned above, the components in the liquorice extract can reach the fetus inside the womb. This extract can have a negative impact on the cognitive development of the baby. It may sometimes even result in ADHD.

A lot of things that are ok on regular days are not ok when you are pregnant. Liquorice, though has many medicinal qualities and benefits, is sadly one of them. There are no strong studies to back up the beneficial claims of liquorice; but a couple of studies have shown the side effects of liquorice during pregnancy. There are many other herbs you can use instead if you are keen on natural remedies. Hold on for a few months and you can go back to your liquorice, without harming your child.

[Read : How To Deal With A Child Who Has ADHD ]

Uses of Liquorice

 1. Tobacco

It has a natural sweetness and a distinct flavor which is used in manufacturing American cigarettes, pipe tobacco and even chewing tobacco. It enhances the flavor of these products.

2. Confectionery

Liquorice flavored candies are very popular in many countries. However, the actual liquorice content is low. The flavor is reinforced with aniseed oil.

3. Dry Sticks

Earlier, liquorice root was just sold as it is. They were called sweet wood. Chewing this wood for long would release the distinct sweet flavor which many preferred. The sweetness is close to 50 times as strong as sucrose, without damage to teeth.

Liquorice and Covid-19

liquorice tea for COVID-19

So, having a nice hot tea with some liquorice root can actually help with cough or asthma. A person affected with the Covid-19 virus craves something hot and soothing, for their cough and tongue that has lost taste. However, there have been warnings that liquorice might interfere with the way your body responds to the Covid-19 virus. These are just claims and there is no research backing this claim.

Many medicinal plants can interfere with other medications or change the way your body responds to certain illnesses. The covid-19 virus is still being studied at great lengths. Being this the case, anyone suffering from Covid-19 must follow only doctor’s prescriptions.


1. Can I Consume Liquorice During Pregnancy, if I Am Used to Consuming it Regularly, Before Pregnancy?

No, even if it has been a part of your regular diet, it is safer to avoid it completely during pregnancy unless your doctor prescribes otherwise. It is safer to consult your doctor regarding the same and get a medical opinion on the same.

2. Can I Consume Liquorice After Delivery?

No, doctors do not recommend lactating mothers to consume liquorice either. The components from this herb or extract can still reach the developing baby through the mother’s milk. Hence it is not safe yet.

3. What if I Have Accidentally Ingested Liquorice?

If you have accidentally consumed liquorice, chances are that it is an exclusive episode. This slight ingestion should not have an impact on you or the baby. However, if you have been consuming liquorice regularly in your pregnancy, before knowing about its’ side effects, it is strictly recommended to consult your doctor.

4. Should I Avoid All Candies Like Liquorice Candy?

Since we are not sure about the ingredients and the quantity of liquorice added in such candies, we cannot really advise on this issue. If you suspect the candy could have liquorice, it is always a wiser choice to avoid it. You can contact the manufacturer to find out the exact composition of the ingredients; or better yet, find an alternative to satiate those pregnancy cravings.

Read Also:

Is Valerian Root Safe During Pregnancy?

Can You Take Ashwagandha During Pregnancy?

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