It is used traditionally for treating a variety of conditions, including lung, liver, circulatory, and kidney diseases. Today, licorice root is promoted as a dietary supplement for conditions such as digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections.
Licorice is an herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia. The root is used as medicine. Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which is also called glycyrrhizic acid. Glycyrrhizin can cause adverse effects when eaten in large quantities. Many "licorice" products manufactured in the U.S. actually don't contain any licorice. Instead, they contain anise oil, which has the characteristic smell and taste of "black licorice".
Licorice is used for eczema, swelling (inflammation) of the liver (hepatitis), mouth sores, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.