Licorice Oil for Eczema

When my daughter was born, she had very severe eczema. Eczema is almost always related to food allergies, and hers were gluten and dairy. Giving up food allergens is important, but skin issues, especially long standing ones, take a while to resolve. Here’s a simple topical that will cut your waiting time: Licorice oil!

When she was small, I used every herb that had ever been mentioned for dry skin. I tried them all – but nothing would touch her eczema. It seemed like the only option left was hydrocortisone cream, but I didn’t want to try that. One day I was thinking about licorice – which slows the body’s breakdown of cortisol. Although at the time I couldn’t find any information talking about the topical use of licorice, it seemed to me that if I could slow the breakdown of cortisol in a local area, that would effectively yield a buildup of cortisol – it would have the same effect as hydrocortisone. So I went to the stove to cook up a batch, and it worked great! Since then, I have turned to licorice oil again and again for everything from basic dermatitis to psoriasis, and it’s never let me down! Of course, you still need to address the root causes, but while you wait, nothing hits the spot like licorice!

Make licorice oil just like any other herbal oil. You can fill a jar with licorice root and pour olive oil over it, then let it sit covered for 4-6 weeks. To be honest, I’ve never made it that way, because I always am in too much of a hurry. Instead, I put a few handfuls of licorice root (I prefer the cut-and-sifted to the slices or sticks for this use) into a pot, and pour in just enough olive oil to cover all of the root bits. Put the pot over very low heat and stir it regularly. Generally I leave it on the stove for about three days, turning the heat on very low anytime I’m in the kitchen and can watch it – it’s important not to let the oil boil. (Many people will tell you it’s important not to let the oil get over 120 degrees, but if that does happen, don’t panic! I’ve had good results with licorice oil that got a little warmer than I intended. Try it before you throw it out and start over: if it works, it works!)

Once the oil is ready, whichever method you used, strain the root bits out of the oil and set the oil aside for whenever you need it. You can add beeswax to the oil to have a salve – often easier to transport than oil that might spill in your bag. You can also make it into a lotion by using equal parts rose water and licorice oil, and blending it up in the blender (add the water first, get it going, and then slowly add the licorice oil in until it gets nice and lotiony.) Usually I just put the oil into a dropper bottle, drop some on to whatever dry eczema spots there are, and rub it in.

You could certainly use a liquid extract of licorice to do the same job, however, in a dry flaky kind of condition, having the oil is quite soothing!


  1. Jennifer Patterson on 9 September, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I am highly allergic to EVOO, actually olive oil in general. Can I replace it with coconut oil or grapeseed oil?

    In advance, thank you for your time and help.


    Jennifer Patterson
    Mother of Twins & Nurse to all in my care

  2. katja on 10 September, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Hi, Jennifer!

    Absolutely! You could also use almond oil, jojoba, or rosehip oil would be nice too!

  3. Jennifer Patterson on 10 September, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you!

    I am so excited to try this!!! Where do you purchase bees wax?

  4. Jennifer Patterson on 3 October, 2012 at 10:17 am

    My friend has a 17 month old who has bad Eczema. How old was your daughter when you used it on her? I haven’t found any information on topical licorice root and toddlers.

    In advance, thank you for your time and help.

    PS> I LOVE this stuff! Thank you so much for posting the recipe!

  5. katja on 3 October, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Hi, Jennifer!

    You can get beeswax online at, or from local honey producers, or probably at your local coop. If you’re local to Boston, Harvest Coop in Central Square has the best prices – about $2 for a 2 or 3 inch “cake”.

  6. katja on 3 October, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Hi, Jennifer!

    Amber was less than 5 months old when I started doing this. She might have been only one or two months old, but I know she was less than 5 months, since that’s when we went gluten and dairy free, and I know I used the licorice before then.

  7. MUHAMMAD IMRAN on 14 May, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    i am 42 years old male, doctor suggest me use topical steroid in olive oil for hairs ,is there any side effects.

    muhammad imran

  8. YN on 30 September, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Hi there

    My 8 month old baby has terrible eczema and would like to make the licorice oil. However, I am not too sure how many hours in total I’ve got to put the mixture on the stove. Could you please give me some advice. Thanks a million.

  9. ryn on 30 September, 2013 at 11:50 pm


    using the stovetop method, the oil should begin to show some efficacy after about 45 minutes on very low heat, and will continue to gain strength over the next few days.

    these days katja prefers to make her oils in the oven – she plans to update this article with that method soon.

  10. Yn on 1 October, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Thanks a million Ryn. I really appreciate the advice. Warm regards, yn

  11. Meliss on 4 January, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I have ground up licorice root but have no idea how to make it into an oil. I would greatly appreciate knowing how you made an oil out of licorice.

    Thank you and have a blessed new year.

  12. katja on 4 January, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Hi, Meliss!

    The instructions for making an oil are in the third and fourth paragraphs of the article. The procedure can be done with powder, but it’s suboptimal: you’d really want to be sure you strained out every last bit of the powder so your oil wouldn’t be gritty at the end. It would be better to save your licorice powder, if that’s what you have, and use chopped up root instead.


  13. isi on 30 January, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    thanks for this info on home made licorice.
    what if i grind the roots in a blender first (rather than simply chop)?

  14. angela on 9 June, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I tried making the lotion with the rose water, but it seemed a little runny, is there anything i can add to make it have more of a creamy consistency? Thank you very much for posting this information!

  15. Beth on 14 June, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Have you tried making oils in a crockpot on low setting? I guess you’d have to be making a biggish batch…

  16. Courtney Fuchs on 1 November, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks for the great info on licorice and how to make your own oil. I wanted a simple way to maintain the temp of the oil/licorice root mixture and not have to have the stove on for three days so I pulled out my crockpot. I made a kind of ring out of a long piece of foil that I crinkled up and shaped. I placed it in the bottom of the crock pot then placed a stainless bowl containing the licorice root and the oil on top of the foil . I turned the crockpot on low and it worked great! The oil never started boiling, but I did see some bubbles starting after 24 hours so I now just leave the top slightly off to the side to vent it a bit. Now the oil is kept warm but no boiling – can’t wait to start using it in another day or so!

  17. katja on 1 November, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Hi, Courtney!

    That’s a great plan! If your crockpot has a “warm” or a setting that is low enough not to boil, that’s ideal! I’ve heard of some people putting a dimmer switch on their crockpot so that the low setting is low enough not to boil, but that seemed a little sketchy to me. My new method is to put it in the oven at 175. I leave the oven on for a while, then turn it off but leave the door closed, and cycle through that pattern for a few days. It’s been a great way to make oil from fresh plant matter too, since all the water evaporates off!

  18. katja on 1 November, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    oh dear, Angela!

    somehow i didn’t notice your post and now all this time has passed! but, yes, the lotion will be runny unless you use a thickener. i like beeswax! i make the oil into a salve first, then use the salve in place of the oil to make the lotion. i’m going to make a video with these instructions this winter and i’ll post it in the blog!

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