Q. Do liquorice strips have a laxative effect?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 12 September 2013.
Tagged: diarrhoea, fibre

The question in full:

Q. Do the liquorice straps (confectionery) that I buy from Darrell Lea and the supermarket have a laxative effect?

A. Unlikely as the quantity of liquorice in these is very small – generally less than 3 per cent according to the manufacturers. See a typical list of ingredients below.

It's a different story when liquorice is taken as a herbal medicine though. It can be consumed as Liquorice root (Glyccyrrhia glabra) or a liquorice tea. The tea comes in the form of teabags or you can steep sliced fresh liquorice root in boiled water for 3 minutes, just like making fresh ginger tea.

Liquorice is popular in Chinese medicinals. It's not often consumed on its own but incorporated in a blend with other herbals to add its natural sweetness which can help disguise a bitter-tasting herb.

It has a pleasant soothing quality so is often recommended to relieve coughs or sore throats, help heal mouth ulcers and aid digestion.

In this form, it CAN act as a laxative so take care to increase the dosage gradually or follow the instructions from a herbalist.

Liquorice Allsorts with hand

Liquorice confectionery is NOT suitable for people with high blood pressure. This is due to its added salt (similar to honeycomb, caramels and sherbet) and also to the liquorice itself which has the ability to raise blood pressure. Being made from wheaten flour, liquorice is NOT suitable for those with coeliac disease.

Ingredients in liquorice

eg Darrell Lea, Natural Confectionery Co

Flour, sugar, molasses, glucose syrup, liquorice extract 3%,

humectant, oil, salt, aniseed oil (for flavour)

Remember ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. You can see liquorice extract comes in at ingredient no 5 (and they tell you it's present at 3 per cent), so it's there only in very small quantities.


Man dies after his addiction to licorice caused his heart to stop

Read more about the 54-year old man who had a poor diet anyway and consumed a lot of liquorice.