ObjectivesThe potential clinical effects of licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.) and its extracts have been investigated since ancient times. Whether pseudohyperaldosteronism, with consequent arterial hypertension, is the only endocrine effect produced by licorice is uncertain, and a role in the reproductive system has been proposed. This review aimed to summarize the current knowledge on the pharmacologic effects of licorice on male and female reproductive systems.MethodsOverall, 1462 records were extracted from electronic databases and systematically examined. A total of 28 studies were included in the final analysis.ResultsPreclinical and clinical studies revealed estrogen-like activity of licorice components, especially flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and chalcones, showing a potential role of licorice in ameliorating symptoms associated with estrogen insufficiency. Preclinical studies also showed weak antiandrogen properties and beneficial effects of licorice on gonadal function in both sexes, but clinical studies yield to poor and conflicting results depending on the type and dose of licorice.ConclusionsLicorice consumption can affect the reproductive system. However, its role needs to be further explored, especially due to the great variability of bioactive compounds used in existing studies.
Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.)
Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.