The Power of Licorice as a Nootropic: A Comprehensive Guide

What Is Licorice?

Licorice, also known as Glycyrrhiza glabra, is a perennial herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia. The plant has a woody stem, long leaves, and purple and white flowers. The root of the Licorice plant is where its medicinal properties are concentrated.

 In recent years, Licorice has gained popularity as a nootropic supplement due to its potential cognitive-enhancing benefits. It is believed to improve memory, learning, and mental performance.

Traditional uses Of Licorice  in Ayurvedic medicine

Licorice has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is known as Yashtimadhu. It has been used for thousands of years to treat different ailments such as coughs, colds, or gastrointestinal issues.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Licorice is considered to have a sweet taste and a cooling effect on the body. It is believed to have a number of therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiulcerogenic effects.

One of the primary traditional uses of Licorice in Ayurvedic medicine is for respiratory issues. It is commonly used to treat coughs, sore throats, and bronchitis. Licorice is believed to have a soothing effect on the throat and to help clear phlegm and congestion from the lungs.


Nootropic Benefits of Licorice

Improved Memory and Learning

Licorice contains compounds such as glycyrrhizin and flavonoids that may enhance memory and learning by increasing blood flow to the brain, enhancing neural activity, and reducing inflammation in the brain[1].

Enhanced Mental Performance

Licorice may improve mental performance by increasing blood flow to the brain and reducing brain inflammation, leading to enhanced cognitive function[2].

Antioxidant Effects

Licorice contains compounds that act as antioxidants, protecting the brain from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals.

Neuroprotective Effects

 Licorice has been shown to have neuroprotective effects that may help protect the brain from damage and age-related cognitive decline.


Mechanisms by which Licorice Works


For thousands of years, licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been used for its medicinal benefits. Its root comprises compounds such as flavonoids and glycyrrhizin, which are accountable for its therapeutic properties.

The main mechanism of action of licorice is its ability to inhibit the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD). This enzyme is responsible for converting cortisol (a stress hormone) into cortisone (an inactive metabolite). By inhibiting 11β-HSD, licorice increases the amount of cortisol in the body, which can have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects[3].

Licorice also has antioxidant properties, which can help to protect the body against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Additionally, licorice has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, making it effective against certain types of bacteria and viruses.

Safety Considerations

While licorice root is generally considered safe as a food ingredient, consuming large amounts or using it for extended periods of time can result in serious side effects. These side effects include an increase in blood pressure and a decrease in potassium levels.

As the composition of licorice products can vary, it is difficult to determine a definitive safe or unsafe level of intake. People with hypertension, heart or kidney disease should be particularly cautious about the effects of licorice on their blood pressure and potassium levels.

The side effects of licorice are thought to be caused by glycyrrhizic acid, a component present in licorice. Licorice that has been processed to remove this substance (known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL) may not have the same degree of side effects.

Pregnant women should be careful about consuming excessive amounts of licorice, as it has been associated with premature birth and health problems in the child. The safety of using licorice root while breastfeeding is not well understood.


The recommended dosage for Licorice

At present, there is no established standard dosage recommendation for glycyrrhizin. Nevertheless, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Scientific Committee of Food (SCF) suggest that the intake of glycyrrhizin should not exceed 100 mg per day


How to Take Licorice

  • Licorice is available in various forms such as capsules, powders, and teas. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare provider before taking Licorice.
  • The ideal time of day to take Licorice is in the morning or early afternoon as it can cause insomnia if taken in the evening.


  • Licorice can be stacked with other nootropic supplements such as Bacopa Monnieri and Alpha GPC for enhanced cognitive benefits.

Personal Experiences

Some people have tried Licorice for health benefits and have given positive reviews. A user said, "taking Omeprazole for years and it has become toxic to me with a psoriasis-type rash over my body. My doctor took me off it and suggested Pepcid and Antacid tablets. To no avail, the Pepcid or tablets had no effect on my GERD. So I came across info on Licorice Root and GERDS. I am taking 2 450mg tablets on a full stomach 2 times daily and my GERDS is great. No more acid reflux for me”.

 Comparison with Other Nootropics

Licorice is a less well-known nootropic supplement compared to others such as Bacopa Monnieri and Alpha GPC. However, it is believed to offer similar cognitive-enhancing benefits and can be stacked with these supplements for enhanced effects.

Potential Applications

Peptic Ulcer

There is a suggestion that DGL may be a solution for stomach ulcers, although its effectiveness is currently uncertain. Some research has indicated that combining DGL with antacids can have a similar healing effect on ulcers as prescription drugs, however, it is not clear how much of the benefit is solely attributed to DGL. Despite this, a study on animals found that rats given aspirin coated with licorice experienced a 50% reduction in the number of ulcers.

In another study, 100 people with stomach ulcers were treated with licorice root fluid extract for 6 weeks, with 86 of them having not improved with conventional medication. The extract helped 90% of the participants, and 22 of them had their ulcers disappear[4]. Nevertheless, other studies have found that DGL did not have any significant effect on “peptic ulcers” in humans.

Canker sores (Aphthous ulcers)

A study with a small sample size indicated that gargling with warm water mixed with dissolved DGL four times a day aided alleviate pain for individuals with “canker sores”[4].


The research found that applying licorice gel to the affected skin aided alleviate symptoms such as redness, swelling, and itching. The study showed that a gel containing 2% licorice was more effective than a gel containing 1% licorice[5].

Hot flushes

Initial studies indicate that licorice may be beneficial in decreasing hot flashes. A study reported that licorice appears to be more effective than hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in improving the duration of hot flashes[6].








Future Research

Despite the promising findings on Licorice's cognitive-enhancing benefits, further research is necessary to comprehensively comprehend the ways in which licorice works and its possible uses in other health domains. Future research may also explore the potential for Licorice to be used in combination with other nootropics or as part of a holistic approach to cognitive enhancement.



Licorice is a promising nootropic supplement that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It has potential cognitive-enhancing benefits and may also have applications in other areas of health. However, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before taking Licorice, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.


  1. Tabuchi M, Imamura S, Kawakami Z et al. (2012) The Blood–Brain Barrier Permeability of 18β-Glycyrrhetinic Acid, a Major Metabolite of Glycyrrhizin in Glycyrrhiza Root, a Constituent of the Traditional Japanese Medicine Yokukansan. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 32, 1139-1146.
  2. Ramalingam M, Kim H, Lee Y et al. (2018) Phytochemical and Pharmacological Role of Liquiritigenin and Isoliquiritigenin From Radix Glycyrrhizae in Human Health and Disease Models. Front Aging Neurosci 10, 348-348.
  3. Yang R, Wang LQ, Yuan BC, Liu Y. The pharmacological activities of licorice. Planta Medica. 2015 Dec;81(18):1654-69.
  4. Borrelli F, Izzo AA. The plant kingdom is a source of anti-ulcer remedies. [Review]. Phytother Res. 2000;14(8):581-91.
  5. Kao TC, Wu CH, Yen GC. Bioactivity and potential health benefits of licorice. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(3):542-53.
  6. Shibata S. A drug over the millennia: pharmacognosy, chemistry, and pharmacology of licorice. [review]. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2000;120(10):849-62

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