Red Licorice Versus Black Licorice

by Dave
(Fort Myers Florida)

Dave's Question:

How does red licorice affect your digestive system?

Suzy's Answer:

Hi, Dave,

Thanks for your question about licorice and digestion.

The simple answer is that red licorice is not really "licorice" and does not contain any of the plant root that gives it the name. For this reason, it is really not part of the discussion of digestive aids (other than to say that it is not one!) Oddly enough, even some black licorice candy does not contain any real licorice, so check the label if you are eating black licorice as a digestive aid. Also, be aware that eating too much black licorice can upset the fluid balance in your body, so when consuming real licorice made from licorice root, eat it sparingly (or not at all if you have heart disease or high blood pressure).

People who take licorice for digestion, often will use the tablet version that is specially formulated for that purpose. There is a product called DGL (Deglycyrrizinated Licorice), black licorice with the glycyrrhiza component removed, which is the component in large doses that could lead to high blood pressure.

DGL comes in chewable tablet form, which makes it easier to regulate the dose. For best results, DGL should be taken about 20 minutes before you eat, but you can take it whenever the symptoms of indigestion occur. Eating good quality black licorice, in small amounts, can also aid digestion, but you will be getting sugar and, depending on the brand, possibly some other less desirable chemical ingredients.

On the other hand, red licorice would likely not have a similar benefit. It is essentially a candy with no real nutritional value other than providing calories. (The high sugar and artificial chemical component of many candy licorices, black or red, may actually be detrimental to your health!)

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