Licorice acts like cortisone and reduces testosterone. In its chemical structure, licorice is so similar to many hormones that it can amplify or interfere with their functions. Thus, since it acts like cortisone, it can cause retention of excess salt in our tissues (if we use enough licorice), causing ankle swelling and puffy eyelids, raising our blood pressure (possibly with headaches), and bringing on heart failure. The more you consume, the greater are these effects.
Italian researchers have recently shown that licorice also reduces production of testosterone (a male hormone). This could explain many cases of impotence in young men who habitually consume a lot of licorice. In this context, we wish to remind readers that licorice is to be found in many things, including some brands of chewing gum and most types of chewing tobacco. Since chewing tobacco contains more licorice than do most other things, just think of its effect on those constantly tobacco-chewing, baseball players!
It is also present in many brands of breath freshener, candy, and beverages (especially imported beers, pastis, and anisette). Even some so-called health products, such as herbal teas, cough mixtures and throat lozenges contain enough licorice to cause salt retention. However, since not all brands of these products contain licorice, read their package labeling and buy one that is licorice-free. If you find licorice hard to resist, avoid its regular daily use, and take a piece of it just occasionally. Sources: NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE (341:1158,’99