How Licorice Affects Breastfeeding

Licorice While Breastfeeding

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While you are nursing, reading labels before you consume yogurt, or being skeptical about having herbs is natural. Herbs can offer several benefits to the body, but certain of them may lead to side effects as well. At this delicate time, making the right choice is quite necessary.

Licorice is one such product about which you need to know before you consume while breastfeeding your baby. It is a legume used in tobacco, candies and sweetners. Read the post to find out more.

What is Licorice?

Licorice is a herbal plant also known as Glycyrrhiza, a name derived from ‘glukos’ that means sweet while ‘riza’refers to root. Licorice root holds the compound ‘glycyrrhizin’, which is almost 50 times sweeter than sugar. This sweetness makes it an ideal component for confectioneries and beverages. It is a perennial herb mostly found in Southern Europe and parts of Asia. It has been used for its medicinal properties for over centuries. In ancient Arabia, people used licorice to treat a cough, while in ancient Greece it helped to treat asthma. Licorice is an integral component of several Chinese herbal formulas and is believed to enhance the effects of other herbs. In Ayurveda, licorice is termed effective in relieving spasms and inflammations.

[ Read: Ginseng During Breastfeeding ]

How Does It Work?

According to an article posted in the Milwaukee Journal, licorice root plant is a part of the pea family. The chemical compounds present in licorice are said to have expectorant properties that make it effective against a cough and swelling.

These components are said to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-viral properties. Glycyrrhizic acid present in licorice boosts adrenal gland function that helps to deal with depression and anxiety.

The German Standard License has indicated that licorice eases painful spasms that result from chronic gastritis.

Side-Effects Of Licorice:

The over-consumption of licorice can cause side-effects such as hypertension, cataracts, fluid retention, and so on. People suffering from heart ailments must avoid licorice since it affects the adrenal glands, hormones, and blood pressure that can make the patient susceptible to heart failure. Excessive intake of licorice can aggravate kidney and liver disease and diabetes.

[ Read: Echinacea While Breastfeeding ]

Is It Safe To Consume Licorice While Breastfeeding?

There is a lack of information about the effects licorice has for lactating mothers. However, the US National Institute of Health has advised lactating mothers against the consumption of licorice as it can interfere with breastfeeding and reduce milk production. Licorice is recommended to mothers to treat oversupply, or when weaning, so you should avoid it while you are nursing.

Mothers who have consumed the herb in the past have complained about its side-effects. Consuming licorice can cause headaches, high blood pressure, heart ailments, or even swelling due to water retention. Pregnant women are asked to keep away from licorice as it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or preterm labor.

[ Read: Headache While Breastfeeding ]

In certain cases, breastfeeding mothers, consuming more than 2 liters of herbal tea containing licorice, complained that their infants became very weak and weary. It was only after they stopped consuming herbal tea that the infants felt stronger and normal.

Mothers, who are on diuretic medications, must not use licorice as it actively drops potassium levels in the body and that can prove fatal in certain cases.


As a nursing mother, you must always consult your physician before taking any herbal product or even applying it topically.

Always read the ingredients of the herbal products you purchase. Buy products only from reputed brands.

Avoid consuming large quantities or prolonged use of licorice.

There are several herbs that are beneficial for nursing mothers. However, herbs like licorice not only offer benefits but can also cause harmful effects. It is best to avoid licorice when breastfeeding and opt for any other safe option suggested by your doctor.

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