Using licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) as a topical treatment for vaginal dysbiosis

Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has many demonstrated activities that benefit the vagina topically, including as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and steroidal. The steroidal action is similar to the effect of hydrocortisone, which can help to calm and soothe cells, while the other active constituents can act on the microbial issues in vaginal dysbiosis.

When the vagina is battling with an infection or overgrowth of the wrong sorts of bacteria, inflammation can be the natural result. This inflammation may appear as itching, soreness, rawness or unusual discharge. Licorice root extract can soothe the vaginal mucosa in several ways, reducing itching and discomfort.

This list will increase over time as we come across the scientific research, but so far this is what we have in terms of microbes licorice is effective against in some form (in the lab). Licorice root has been demonstrated effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative microbes.

Microbes that licorice root extract (in some form) has been demonstrated to inhibit or kill include (genitourinary tract-related):

  • Actinomyces viscosus
  • Aspergillus niger
  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Enterococcus faecalis
  • Escherichia coli
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus mutans
  • Streptococcus sanguis

Licorice root has also demonstrated antiviral activity, and can put a damper on some viral replication, possibly reducing the impact of a viral outbreak or reducing the risk of initial infection (HIV, HPV, herpes, etc.).


Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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