Glycyrrhetinic acid is a pentacyclic triterpenoid derivative of the β-amyrin type. It has expectorant and antitussive properties. It is widely used as a flavoring agent and is frequently employed to mask the taste of bitter drugs such as aloe and quinine.
Glycyrrhetinic acid has also been reported to possess anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed to inhibit the enzymes that metabolize the prostaglandins,to their inactive metabolites. This increases the level of prostaglandins in the digestive system. These prostaglandins inhibit gastric secretion but stimulate pancreatic secretion and mucous secretion in the intestines. This may be the reason that glycyrrhetinic acid is said to relieve peptic ulcers.