Gargling with a licorice solution before undergoing surgery could reduce postoperative sore throat, according to researchers from Lucknow.
Postoperative sore throat is a common and troublesome complication after general anaesthesia with intubation.
The new study by Dr. Anil Agarwal and colleagues of Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, India, found that patients who gargled with licorice before surgery had fewer problems with postoperative sore throat and cough.
The study included 40 patients undergoing spinal surgery, who simply gargled with a diluted licorice solution or plain water just five minutes before induction of general anaesthesia with an airway (endotracheal) tube.
The researchers found that patients receiving the licorice gargle had a lower rate of postoperative sore throat, including pain on swallowing.
Two hours after surgery, about 25 percent of patients who used the licorice gargle had a sore throat, compared to 75 percent of those who gargled with water.
Postoperative sore throat was also less severe in the licorice group.
In addition, patients who used the licorice gargle were less likely to develop postoperative cough- 10 percent, compared to 30 percent of patients who gargled with water.
There were no side effects of 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," wrote Agarwal and co-authors.
A number of active ingredients have been identified in licorice, including compounds with anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and anti-cough effects.
The researchers have acknowledged that licorice may not be appropriate for children, or for adult patients who are sedated or uncooperative.
However, for many patients undergoing surgery, licorice gargle appears to offers a sweet, simple, and effective approach to reducing a common and uncomfortable problem.
The study is published in the July issue of Anaesthesia and Analgesia, official journal of the International Anaesthesia Research Society (IARS).