Also known as glycyrrhizic acid or ammonium glycyrrhizinate
Glycyrrizin is a triterpene glycoside. It is extracted from licorice root.
Glycyrrhizin has a sweet taste with a characteristic licorice taste sometimes described as "cooling." The potency is about 50 times that of sucrose. The sweetness is slow in onset and tends to linger.
Glycyrrhizin does not provide significant calories.
Glycyrrhizin is reported to be relatively heat-stable. Glycyrrhizin is not very water soluble. It is usually used as the ammonium salt, which has good water solubility.
Glycyrrhizin comes from the root of licorice, Glycyhrrhiza glabra. The plant is native to Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Greece, and northern China. Glycyrrhizin (as a component of licorice root) has a long history of use as a sweetener and as an herbal remedy. Studies have demonstrated that glycyrrhizin inhibits an enzyme that normally inactivates cortisol, so that consumption of licorice or glycyrrhizin in excess can raise the level of cortisol in the body above normal levels. Cortisol has anti-inflammatory properties, so glycyrrhizin can be beneficial in treating some conditions, but excessive cortisol can cause water retention, hypertension, and loss of potassium and calcium.
While glycyrrhizin has regulatory approval throughout the world, most regulatory agencies recommend limits to daily consumption.
Glycyrrhizin is an excellent example of the toxicology adage that "everything is a poison, depending on the dosage." It is useful, but at high consumption levels, there is considerable risk of adverse effects.