Can Licorice Reduce the Severity of COVID-19?

Can Licorice Reduce the Severity of COVID-19?

( – Licorice has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, prescribed in China, Greece and Egypt to treat stomach upset and upper respiratory conditions. Even now, people in many areas of the world use licorice to treat infections and coughs. But is it effective enough to use against COVID-19? We’ve uncovered some interesting details.

Licorice’s Antimicrobial Properties

Licorice contains a host of powerful antioxidants — at least 20 triterpenoids and nearly 300 flavonoids that we’re aware of. Researchers have been studying many of them for years, focusing on a handful that appear particularly promising: glycyrrhizin, glabridin, glycyrrhetinic acid, liquiritigenin, licochalcone A and licochalcone E. Previous research has suggested these antioxidants could be effective against numerous types of viruses, including influenza strains, by reducing both transmission rates and disease severity.

The Secret to China’s Plummeting Death Toll?

In early May, the South China Morning Post released an article on the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine in treating COVID-19. According to the article, studies on monkeys and mice have shown licorice root can halt virus replication in the host with few side effects. About 90% of COVID-19 patients in China have received licorice root alongside other treatments to aid in their recovery.

An article in Thailand Medical News claims its small press has been trying to tell the rest of the world about licorice root since January. It also claims doctors are using a handful of other traditional Chinese herbs alongside licorice, one of which remains unnamed and in the process of being patented in China. Whether this is a separate herb with even greater potential against COVID-19 currently remains unknown.

Studies on COVID-19

An investigation into licorice’s specific properties has determined at least one of its antioxidants, glycyrrhizin, can protect people against COVID-19 infections in two very different ways. First, glycyrrhizin binds to ACE2 receptors — the same receptors SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, uses to sneak into the body. The fewer receptors available to the virus, the less likely the infection will find a way in.

Second, glycyrrhizin appears to protect against the effects of cytokine storms, inflammatory responses that are common in severe COVID-19 cases and may contribute to the disease’s high mortality rate. By keeping the immune system under control without suppressing it, licorice could be a game-changer in COVID-19 treatment.


There is a downside: Licorice might not be safe to consume on a regular basis. Long-term use can have negative effects on the endocrine system, cause dangerously low potassium levels, raise blood pressure and trigger fluid retention. Obviously, more research is needed to determine whether the benefits of using it to prevent COVID-19 outweigh the potential risks.

Licorice may be a good tool in managing COVID-19, but it’s not a miracle drug. And just as with any medicine, it’s important to follow the research and let the long-term results speak for themselves. We’ll be sure to share any advances on this potentially life-saving supplement as they come.

~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!

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