Licorice Before Surgery May Stop Sore Thoat



NEW YORK (ASRN.ORG)- One annoying consequence of surgery is the painful sore throat that follows recovery from anesthesia, but a small study suggests a simple and cheap way to reduce the risk: gargle with licorice just before going under.

Licorice has been used for thousands of years to treat inflammation and allergies, so a group of Indian doctors decided to test it for treating postoperative sore throat. In their study, they divided 40 patients undergoing an elective spinal operation into two groups. Twenty patients gargled with a licorice solution five minutes before anesthesia, and 20 gargled with plain water.

There was no difference between the groups in age, sex, weight or duration of anesthesia, but only 4 of the licorice group reported soreness on swallowing right after waking, compared with 15 from the group that gargled with water. By the end of 24 hours, nine water garglers, but only two in the licorice group, still found it painful to swallow.

The study was not double-blinded - that is, the patients knew what they were gargling with, even though the operating room personnel did not - and that as a practical matter, gargling just before anesthesia could be problematic. Still, they conclude, the risks of the practice are very small, and the benefits may be significant.


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