Licorice is an herb that grows in parts of Europe and Asia. The root is used as medicine. Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which is also called glycyrrhizic acid. Glycyrrhizin can cause adverse effects when eaten in large quantities. Many "licorice" products manufactured in the U.S. actually don't contain any licorice. Instead, they contain anise oil, which has the characteristic smell and taste of "black licorice".