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What is Carbenoxolone?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Carbenoxolone, often called carbenoxolone sodium, is a medication derived from licorice root. It is used to treat sores in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach and is available as a pill and a liquid. It is also available as a topical treatment for sores outside the mouth. Some evidence has suggested that this medication may also have an effect on memory retention, especially verbal memory.

The primary use for this medication is to treat ulcers and sores in the digestive tract and in and around the mouth. A mild anti-inflammatory, this medication is used to relieve swelling and irritation. It is particularly useful for the treatment of stomach ulcers because it also helps neutralize stomach acid.

Carbenoxolone is created in the laboratory out of glycyrrhetinic acid. This acid is found naturally in licorice root. Although the source of carbenoxolone is a natural herb, the drug itself has been chemically altered and is not considered a natural remedy.

To treat sores in the stomach or esophagus, carbenoxolone is added to antacids and given orally, either as a pill or as a liquid suspension. Damage to the inside of the mouth can be treated by rinsing with a carbenoxolone-infused mouthwash. It is also possible to use the medicine as a topical treatment for lesions that are found around the outside of the mouth.

Research has suggested that carbenoxolone may have an effect on memory. Though studies are inconclusive, there is some evidence to suggest that it may slow memory loss and increase neural activity in the brain. The beneficial effects of using this drug are apparent after only a short duration of treatment. Regular use of the medication has been linked to better recall of verbal information.

Though studies have shown a correlation between the use of carbenoxolone and increased memory function, there is little evidence to suggest that it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. It seems unlikely that treatment with this medication can directly affect the brain. There are, however, methods by which it could affect brain function indirectly.

Use of carbenoxolone has been linked to a drop in overall levels of potassium. This condition can be dangerous in patients who have heart disease or issues with the kidneys or liver. A severe drop in potassium can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure, so patients with pre-existing problems in these organs are cautioned against taking this medication.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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