black licorice with poop smells like licorice in white text

Poop Smells Like Licorice: Common Causes and Solutions

Do you ever find yourself experiencing unusual odors in your bowel movements?

Perhaps you’ve noticed a licorice-like smell that seems out of place.

This can be a concerning and uncomfortable experience, leaving you wondering what could be causing it and if it’s a sign of a more significant health issue.

But fear not, as there are several potential causes for this phenomenon, and we’re here to help you understand them.

Our article explores the relationship between diet, digestion, and our olfactory experiences, offering insights to better understand the origins of this unusual smell.

We’ll delve into the possible causes, including specific foods, medications, and supplements, and provide you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your health.

So, keep reading to learn more about the potential implications of poop that smells like licorice and take control of your well-being today.


Factors Affecting Poop Smelling Like Licorice

woman in white shirt holding nose from licorice smelling poop

There are several factors that contribute to the smell of poop, and sometimes, it might even resemble a licorice odor.


Potential factors include diet, overall gut health, and medications.


Consuming certain plant-based foods like sweet cicely and American licorice can leave traces of their smell in feces.


The health of an individual’s gut, including the microbiome, might also play a role in the odor of feces.


In such cases, specific bacteria combinations can generate different smells.


Licorice Poop Smell – The Chemistry and Bacteria Behind It

licorice powder with licorice roots by it

The primary driving factor behind the stinky smell of feces is the presence of chemicals and bacteria in the gut.


As humans digest food, enzymes break down the remaining proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the intestines.


This process releases various gases and odor-causing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and short-chain fatty acids.

  • Hydrogen sulfide is responsible for the rotten egg smell.
  • Ammonia produces a pungent, unpleasant odor.
  • Short-chain fatty acids, like butyric acid, can create a rancid smell.

Different bacteria present in the gut can also affect the resulting smell of feces, breaking down food remnants and producing distinct odors.


For instance, the licorice-like smell some people experience can be due to specific bacteria that produce a smell akin to licorice.


Overall, understanding the factors and chemistry behind poop smell helps us in developing a better understanding of how various aspects, including diet and gut health, interplay in generating the distinctive smells that may sometimes resemble licorice.


Common Causes of Licorice Smelling Poop

The smell of licorice in feces can occur for a variety of reasons. Some potential causes include:

  • Consumption of licorice-flavored foods or supplements, which may have a passing influence on stool odor.
  • Ingestion of certain medications or herbal supplements with a licorice component, which can cause a licorice scent to be present in the stool.

Licorice Smelling Stools And Gastrointestinal Disorders

woman in red shirt plugging nose from nasty smelling licorice gas smell

The licorice smell in feces could also be indicative of underlying gastrointestinal issues. Some disorders that may be associated with this odor include:

  1. Celiac Disease: This autoimmune disorder causes inflammation in the small intestine when gluten is consumed. It can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and produce changes in stool odor.
  2. Crohn’s Disease: This inflammatory bowel disease affects the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. It can cause complications like ulcers, abscesses, and fistulas, which could contribute to an abnormal stool odor.
  3. Ulcerative Colitis: Another form of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis specifically affects the inner lining of the colon (large intestine). It can cause diarrhea with blood or pus, and changes in stool consistency and odor.

It’s essential to consult with a doctor if you consistently notice a licorice smell in your stool, as it may be indicative of an underlying health concern.


A healthcare professional can determine if further tests or a referral to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist, is necessary.


In some cases, fecal odor can be influenced by factors like liver, bile duct, or gallbladder issues.


Problems with these organs can affect the breakdown of compounds in the digestive system and alter the smell of your stool.


Again, it is crucial to seek medical advice for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


Although a licorice smell in feces can be harmless and related to dietary factors or medication, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional if the odor persists or other symptoms accompany it.


Common Foods and Spices that Can Cause a Licorice Smell In Your Poop

licorice spice powder on a plate

Black licorice has a distinctive taste and smell. This particular smell can sometimes be found in human feces, especially if the person has consumed a significant amount of foods containing anethole.

The main component responsible for the specific taste and smell of black licorice is a compound called anethole, which can also be found in aniseed, fennel and other foods and spices.

This compound can influence the smell of feces, making it reminiscent of licorice aroma. Below is a list of anethole containing foods which can make your stools smell of licorice.

Foods and spices that are high in anethole:

  1. Anise seeds
  2. Fennel seeds
  3. Star anise
  4. Basil
  5. Licorice root
  6. Tarragon
  7. Oregano
  8. Sage
  9. Nutmeg
  10. Cinnamon



Intolerance and Sensitivity to Foods

Lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity are two common types of food intolerances that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including changes in the smell of bowel movements.

In some cases, certain foods or additives may lead to a licorice-like smell in feces.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a condition where an individual’s body cannot properly digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products.

The undigested lactose leads to the production of gas and inflammation in the intestine, which can alter the smell of bowel movements.

Symptoms may include bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten sensitivity, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), is a condition in which individuals experience symptoms like those of celiac disease yet do not have the autoimmune response typical of celiac disease.

This sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, can cause inflammation in the gut and affect the smell and consistency of bowel movements.

Common symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.

Inflammation and Food Sensitivity

Inflammation in the gut, often caused by food sensitivities or intolerances, can play a role in the smell of feces.

For example, some individuals may have a sensitivity to certain additives or spices such as aniseed, which is commonly found in licorice-flavored products and may cause a licorice-like smell in feces.

If you suspect that your diet might be contributing to unusual bowel movements or smells, it may be helpful to keep track of the foods you eat and discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional.

It is essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to manage food intolerances and sensitivities effectively.

Careful monitoring of your diet, working with a nutritionist, or seeking medical advice can help you identify and avoid specific foods that may cause inflammation or trigger unpleasant symptoms.

Poop Smelling Like Licorice Diagnosis and Treatment Options

licorice piled on top of each other with black tan and white licorice

Below are some of the diagnosis and treatment options available to help with a licorice smelling stool or gas.


Diagnostic Processes

To determine the cause of poop smelling like licorice, a doctor will perform a thorough examination and review the patient’s medical history.

This may involve conducting several tests, including:

  • Stool sample analysis: A sample of the individual’s stool will be collected and sent for laboratory testing, which may reveal the presence of pathogens, inflammation, or other abnormalities.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests may be performed to check for signs of infection, inflammation, or other underlying conditions that might be associated with gastrointestinal discomfort and an unusual smell in the stool.

If necessary, the doctor may also perform additional tests, such as endoscopy or imaging studies, to further investigate the cause of the licorice-like smell in the stool.


Treatments for Poop Smell

Once the underlying cause of the licorice-like stool smell has been identified, a doctor will recommend appropriate treatments.

Some possible treatment options may include:

  • Antibiotics: In cases where the smell is caused by an infection, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the pathogen and alleviate symptoms.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, can help restore the balance of gut flora and may be helpful in addressing the smell, particularly if it is related to an imbalance in the gut microbiome.
  • Dietary changes: In some cases, making dietary adjustments, such as reducing the intake of certain foods (e.g., licorice), may help mitigate the smell in the stool.


Discomfort Relief

In addition to treatments specifically targeting the cause of the licorice smell, the doctor may suggest ways to address associated gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating.

Some strategies to alleviate discomfort may include:

  • Over-the-counter medications: Antacids, gas-relief medications, or anti-diarrheal medications can provide short-term relief for symptoms like bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.
  • Dietary modifications: Implementing a high-fiber, low-fat, and well-balanced diet can help provide relief from gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help promote healthy digestion and reduce symptoms of bloating and discomfort.


When to See a Doctor For Licorice Smelling Poop


If your poop consistently smells like licorice, it’s essential to consider a few factors before determining whether it’s time to consult with a healthcare professional.

These factors include the possibility of an underlying health condition, the frequency of the foul-smelling poop, and any accompanying symptoms.

An isolated occurrence of licorice-scented poop may not always warrant a doctor’s visit.

However, if this becomes a recurring issue, it’s advisable to consult a medical professional.

Certain underlying health conditions could potentially contribute to changes in the odor of your feces.


Some symptoms that may accompany licorice-scented poop include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Changes in the appearance or consistency of your stool
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue or weakness

In cases where you notice a sudden change in the frequency of your bowel movements alongside persistent licorice odor, it’s essential to seek medical advice.

A health expert can rule out any potential causes and provide recommendations to manage or treat the issue.

Discussing your concerns with your doctor is always the best approach to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.