Licorice for Weight-Loss? I Am Skeptical

Chinese herb for weight loss, pms and insomnia

Who really needs another article about weight loss plans and products? We’re inundated with advertising on weight loss supplements and the last thing we need is more of the same.  Alas,  I’m asked all the time, “Don’t you have herbs for weight loss?”  People who know me, know I would never suggest Chinese herbs for quick fix weight loss. I’m resigned to the good old fashion diet, eat more veggies, cut the carb’s and do some exercise. There is simply no magic bullet. Chinese herbs are great for a kick start and can help with “draining damp” and “moving qi” or in layman's language "a little clean-out" but even then lifestyle changes are still necessary.    

Then this study comes along and suggests that the oil in a common herb/food we know as licorice, can reduce total body fat and visceral fat.  Wait, I'm a skeptic.  What do you mean? All this time licorice has been masking as Chinese medicine when really it’s a weight loss herb?…. 


Licorice contains hydrophobic flavonoids and researchers have been studying these flavonoids for years. Many herbs contain flavonoids and they are a major ingredient in Chinese medicine.   A recent clinical trial with 56 men and 28 postmenopausal women participating used licorice in concentrated extract capsules.  Having changed no other aspect of their lives, all lost weight.

In this trial, some participants were given a placebo capsule and others took capsules of 300 mg of the licorice extract, once daily for eight weeks. The researchers  found that the non- placebo group had decreases from baseline body weight and body mass index after the 4 and 8 weeks mark of treatment.  Other studies on the Chinese herb licorice have seen similar results with LDL cholesterol reduction.

The  researchers of  this study concluded, “that the observed reduction in body weight and fat could be caused by increasing energy expenditure through the enhancement of beta-oxidation and inhibition of lipogenesis.” Further studies are always necessary.  But the researchers also remarked “ that supplementation (with licorice) may prevent or ameliorate obesity and metabolic syndrome when combined with lifestyle modifications including diet and exercise."

Although this may not be a definitive way to lose weight Chinese herbs prove again to be superb health supplements. Whether you are trying to reduce cholesterol or lose weight, Chinese herbs have benefits you may never have thought about.  

I always provide links to the original studies so take a detour here if you want to see the whole study.

2 thoughts on “Licorice for Weight-Loss? I Am Skeptical

  1. Cathy Margolin

    Bill, Licorice & high blood pressure is not a myth. Chen & Chen’s, “Chinese Medical Herbology & Pharmacology” the bible of Chinese herbal medicinal in the US say’s this about Licorice Root. “Dosage is 3-10 grams with a maximum of 15 to 30 grams.” “Overdose or chronic use of gan cao (licorice) may cause elevated blood pressure.” The dose used in the study was 300 milligrams so it’s actually a 100 times less than the maximum recommended dosage.

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