Some people believe that licorice root may reduce your chance of cancer and even aid in reducing menopause symptoms. However, researchers have found that licorice may be linked to a reduction in fertility for women. Studies show that licorice decreases the expression of genes linked to sex hormones in females and thus reduces the amount of estrogen. The compound in licorice that this is linked to is called isoliquiritigenin. Although studies have not shown that this decrease in estrogen is linked directly to low fertility rates, researchers say that this reduction in humans may have a link to reproductive health.
Although most people know licorice in the form of candy, it's been known to be used in medicine for centuries to treat colds, ulcers, indigestion, and much more. Isoliquiritigenin, the compound that is linked to a reduction in estrogen, is used in herbal supplements, tea and used to flavor tobacco.
A study was done using antral follicles in female mice to show the link between isoliquiritigenin and sex hormones. Researchers exposed antral follicles, found in the ovaries and express genes that produce estrogen among other hormones, to different levels of isoliquiritigenin and it was shown that exposure to high levels of isoliquiritigenin resulted in a reduction in genes linked to sex hormones. There was a 50% reduction in a specific gene responsible for turning testosterone into estrogen.
Researchers still need to do this study using live animals, however, they stick to the assumption that isoliquiritigenin has bad effects on reproductive health.
As research improves, I hope they are able to prove how affective this compound is at reducing fertility. I also hope they are able to show how much of the compound isoliquiritigenin is in candy licorice and if it is a dangerous amount, they can work to stop producing it.