Recent Advances in Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice)-Containing Herbs Alleviating Radiotherapy-and Chemotherapy-Induced Adverse Reactions in Cancer Treatment

Kai Lee Wang, Ying Chun Yu, Hsin Yuan Chen, Yi Fen Chiang, Mohamed Ali, Tzong Ming Shieh, Shih Min Hsia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Cancers represent a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. They also impose a large economic burden on patients, their families, and health insurance systems. Notably, cancers and the adverse reactions to their therapeutic options, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, dramatically affect the quality of life of afflicted patients. Therefore, developing approaches to manage chemotherapy-and radiotherapy-induced adverse reactions gained greater attention in recent years. Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice), a perennial plant that is one of the most frequently used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, has been heavily investigated in relation to cancer therapy. Licorice/licorice-related regimes, used in combination with chemotherapy, may improve the adverse effects of chemotherapy. However, there is little awareness of licorice-containing herbs alleviating reactions to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, or to other induced adverse reactions in cancer treatment. We aimed to provide a descriptive review, and to emphasize the possibility that licorice-related medicines could be used as an adjuvant regimen with chemotherapy to improve quality of life (QoL) and to reduce side effects, thus, improving compliance with chemotherapy. The experimental method involved searching different databases, including PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and Wang Fang database, as of May 2022, to identify any relevant studies. Despite a lack of high-quality and large-scale randomized controlled trials, we still discovered the potential benefits of licorice-containing herbs from published clinical studies. These studies find that licorice-containing herbs, and their active ingredients, reduce the adverse reactions caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and improve the QoL of patients. This comprehensive review will serve as a cornerstone to encourage more scientists to evaluate and develop effective Traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions to improve the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number535
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • adverse effects
  • cancers
  • chemotherapy
  • licorice
  • radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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