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Are there any specific guidelines for using licorice root in children or infants?


Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has a long history of medicinal use and is considered safe for adults in moderate amounts. However, when it comes to children and infants, extra caution is necessary due to their developing bodies and increased susceptibility to potential side effects. This article aims to provide comprehensive guidelines and considerations for the safe usage of licorice root in children and infants.

Licorice root has been used for various medicinal purposes, including soothing respiratory issues and alleviating digestive discomfort. However, the safety of licorice root in children and infants is a topic of concern. Given the differences in metabolism and physiology between adults and young individuals, specific guidelines and considerations are essential to ensure safe use.

Potential Risks of Licorice Root in Children and Infants:
Before exploring guidelines, it is crucial to understand the potential risks associated with licorice root use in children and infants. One of the main concerns is the presence of glycyrrhizin, a compound found in licorice root that can cause mineralocorticoid excess in high doses. This can lead to sodium retention and potassium loss, potentially affecting blood pressure and electrolyte balance. Additionally, the immature liver and kidney function in young children may impact the processing and excretion of licorice root compounds, further increasing the risk of adverse effects.

Age Restrictions and Dosage:
Due to the potential risks, it is generally recommended to avoid giving licorice root to infants under the age of one year. For children between one and six years old, licorice root should be used with extreme caution and only under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Children above six years may be considered for licorice root supplementation in limited amounts and for specific purposes. Any usage in children and infants should be accompanied by strict adherence to appropriate dosages, ensuring it falls within safe limits.

Avoidance of Long-Term Use:
Licorice root should not be used continuously in children or infants. Long-term use may increase the risk of adverse effects, such as hypertension and electrolyte imbalances. Short-term usage for specific health concerns should be the primary focus, with careful monitoring of any changes in health status.

Form of Licorice Root Preparation:
When considering licorice root supplementation for children and infants, the form of preparation is crucial. Avoid giving them the raw root or chewable licorice candies, as they can contain high levels of glycyrrhizin. Instead, choose safer alternatives, such as licorice root tea or specially formulated pediatric licorice supplements. The controlled form of administration will help reduce the risk of accidental overconsumption.

Medical Conditions and Drug Interactions:
Children or infants with specific medical conditions or those taking medications should avoid licorice root supplementation altogether unless recommended by a healthcare professional. Licorice root may interact with certain medications or exacerbate existing health issues, especially in vulnerable populations.

Hypertension and Cardiovascular Health:
Considering licorice root's potential to affect blood pressure, children and infants with hypertension or cardiovascular conditions should refrain from licorice root usage. For those with heart issues or compromised cardiac health, glycyrrhizin may pose significant risks.

Use under Professional Supervision:
The safest approach to using licorice root in children and infants is under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. They can assess the child's specific health status, age, and any potential risk factors to determine if licorice root is appropriate and at what dosage.

Monitoring and Side Effect Recognition:
Parents and caregivers should closely monitor children and infants who are using licorice root. Any adverse effects or unusual symptoms, such as increased blood pressure, fluid retention, or abnormal behavior, should be reported to a healthcare professional immediately.

Licorice root can offer potential health benefits for adults, but its usage in children and infants requires cautious consideration. Due to their developing bodies and increased vulnerability to potential side effects, strict guidelines must be followed to ensure the safe use of licorice root in young individuals. Avoiding licorice root supplementation in infants under one year, using controlled dosages for children between one and six years old, and seeking professional guidance are essential steps to promote the well-being of children and infants while harnessing the potential benefits of licorice root.

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