Licorice Gargle Can Cut Postoperative Sore Throat

Incidence, severity of sore throat reduced up to 24 hours after procedure; cough also less likely
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- A licorice gargle just before induction of anesthesia may reduce sore throat after surgery, according to research published in the July issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Anil Agarwal, M.D., of the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, India, and colleagues analyzed data from 40 adults undergoing lumbar laminectomy who were randomized to gargle either water or licorice in water for 30 seconds shortly before anesthesia.

The researchers found that the incidence of postoperative sore throat (POST) was significantly lower in the licorice group at zero, two, four, and 24 hours postoperatively, both at rest and while swallowing. The severity of POST -- assessed by visual analog scale -- was reduced in the licorice group at all time points while swallowing, and up to four hours while at rest. Fewer patients in the licorice group had postextubation cough (two versus six).

"A number of active ingredients have been isolated from licorice," the authors write. "Licorice has been reported to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties due to glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizic acid has been demonstrated to retard the inflammatory process by inhibiting cyclooxygenase activity, prostaglandin formation, and inhibition of platelet aggregation. Liquilitin and liquiritigenin have been reported to have peripheral and central antitussive properties. Glabridin has significant antioxidant and ulcer-healing properties."

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