Dermatitis

The anti-inflammatory effect induced by GA provides a theoretical basis for its use as a topical anti-inflammatory agent (much like hydrocortisone) in the treatment of dermatitis.

In practice, GA has been used to potentiate the effects of weak steroids (such as hydrocortisone) in order to increase pharmacological effects without the need for stronger corticosteroids (Teelucksingh et al 1990). It is assumed that increasing corticosteroid activity in this way will not attract an increase in adverse effects; however, no studies have yet confirmed this.

An early study comparing the effects of hydrocortisone- and GA-containing ointments in dermatitis found that hydrocortisone was usually superior in acute and infantile eczemas, whereas GA was superior for chronic and subacute conditions (Evans 1958).

It should be noted that GA is many times more powerful an inhibitor of 11 HSD than GL and therefore should theoretically induce far stronger anti-inflammatory effects. GA is not present in licorice but is produced in the gastrointestinal tract from GL; therefore, it is uncertain whether topical preparations containing pure licorice are likely to produce significant anti-inflammatory effects.

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