June 22, 2009

Licorice gargle may help surgery patients

Surgery patients gargling with licorice solution were less likely than others to develop sore throat, doctors in India said

Sore throat is a common complication after general anesthesia. If coughing is also present, it can lead to further complications.

The study of 40 spinal surgery patients, published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, found 25 percent of those who used the licorice gargle five minutes prior to insertion of an air way tube to induce general anesthesia had a sore throat.

Among those who gargled with plain water only, 75 percent developed sore throat. Post-operative sore throat -- including pain on swallowing -- was also less severe in the licorice group.

Ten percent of the patients who used the licorice gargle were less likely to develop post-operative cough, while 30 percent of patients who gargled with water developed post-operative cough. There were no side effects reported for the licorice gargle.

Licorice, derived from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been used for many millennia as an alternative medicine for treatment of inflammation, allergies and gastric and duodenal ulcers, study leader Dr. Anil Agarwal of Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, India, said in a statement.